The heat of this summer has created an exceptional success story in our garden. My dad would be proud of me. I’ve been able to grow a gladiolus and have it flower! This done whilst living in the shadow of the Rockies.
Dad was an exceptional gardener and gladioli were one of his favourites. They are popular as a cut flower and used in flower arrangements. When we lived in Regina, he grew several rows of beautiful gladioli in our garden every year. He didn’t do flower arranging, but some of his friends did. When the flower arranging competitions came around every year in late summer, Dad would let them come and cut the flowers they needed, happy to see them go to good use. What’s more, he knew that his flowers were going to be seen by many others at the exhibit. Sort of like a painter’s art being seen in an art gallery.
When we moved to Calgary he made a disappointing discovery. Glads could not be grown to flower successfully in an outdoor garden. The reason, he figured out over a couple of years of failure, was that there was little or no night growth.
With Calgary being so close to the eastern slopes of the Rockies, the temperature in the evenings falls, thus, no night growth. On top of that, surprise frosts can happen in June or late August, thus curtailing the growing season for the flowers. Glads grow so high that they can’t be conveniently covered.
Dad built a greenhouse at one of our homes where he could keep the flowers safe from frost. That worked, but I guess it just wasn’t the same for him, so he dropped gladiolus from his yearly list for bulbs and seeds. He enjoyed putting his order together every year during the Christmas holidays when he would sit in the living room, poring over the seed and bulb catalogues rom MacKenzie Seeds in Manitoba.
In the last home we lived in, Dad had a smaller garden, accepted defeat with glads, but made up for it with delphinium and his beloved tea roses. The delphinium grew well and flowered easily, even with the short growing season; however, the tea roses were not intended for our climate. He babied those along by planting them close to the house and covering them every winter with bales of straw brought in from my uncle and aunt’s farm. Every rose bush that bloomed would be celebrated.
Hopefully this explains why I’m delighted to have success with at least one gladiolus plant this year. I don’t hold out any hope for repeating this feat next summer. Actually, I hope I can’t, because I don’t want to live through another stifling summer like we experienced this year. Normally, the growing season in Cochrane is even shorter than Calgary’s. If Dad wasn’t successful in Calgary, I don’t think I should be optimistic about regularly growing glads here.
For now, I’ll accept this summer’s luck. When I know the first frost is coming, I’ll cut the glad and enjoy it for a little longer in our house. That day isn’t too far away as it got down to +1°C other night.
* My title for this essay gives a nod to the Dave Clark Five’s hit of 1964, ‘Glad All Over’.