Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Gladiolus and Mums

Thirty or forty years ago the gladiolus was a stunning exhibition flower that engaged the best of growers in producing, propagating and hybridizing a truly noble species! The demise of the exhibition gladiolus, and its retreat to third rate florist varieties, is caused by and accompanied with, the demise of the home vegetable and cut flower garden. The gladiolus was never a suitable plant in a landscaping scene and landscaping is now all the rage. Landscaping sells! Zeitgeist rules! It's too bad and the end of an era. Sure, the fall fairs always have a few little exceptions but they really do not rate. In the days of yore my dad could buy large corms of Red Charm from Milton Jack for $ 4.00 a hundred and Elizabeth the Queen for $5.00 a hundred. and so on. With that volume you could produce champion specimens. The range of varieties was huge. Now the only class bulb farm I know of is Summerville's in New Jersey and similar bulbs are that much each. That price just reflects the market and the paucity of fanciers. It's the same with the Chrysanthemum aficionados. The Mum group in Lotus City are a small and talented bunch who grow the most beautiful muted Disbuds you ever saw, but their ranks thin every year despite the extraordinary attempts to recruit new enthusiasts. Again the popularity falls short, due to the need for a vegetable and cut flower garden for champion mums rather than everything dedicated to landscape. It is sad to see a skill sacrificed to the altar of landscape cosmetics. Surely there is room for both styles. If more people were encouraged to grow these flowers again, the cost would be affordable, and the beauty pageants would flower, and the standards would be maintained.

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