Gladiolus murielae (Acidanthera bicolor)

August this year in the UK Midlands has been almost tropical; energy sapping temperatures, steamy humidity and torrential downpowers of rain. Despite the heat it has been clear that the garden is now entering a new vibrant phase. A new combination of late summer flowers is beginning to emerge and many of the repeat flowering roses are now creating a second flush of colour.

In my opinion one of the most elegant mid-summer bulbs is Gladiolus murielae (which we have always known as Acidanthera). Growing to around 1 metre in height these corms produce a succession of flowers over a number of weeks. Each white, six petalled flower is presented on a delicate arching stem and has a purple throat in the centre. Unlike many gladioli which produce one dramatic show, Acidanthera flowers open one at a time. Each flower has a lovely scent which makes them ideal for including as a cut flower in table arrangements brought into the house.

Acidanthera originates from Eastern Africa from Ethiopia and Somalia to Tanzania and Malawi. It grows on grass and on damp hills at 1200-2500m. Here in Warwickshire it rarely survives the winter in the garden and so we plant fresh, new corms each year. They are not expensive to buy and we have found the best approach is to plant them in groups of 5-8 corms in a medium sized pot of compost and start them off in the greenhouse. When the weather warms up and we can see gaps in the borders we plant out the whole pot without separating or disturbing the corms.

The foliage is very well behaved growing up straight and true and they seem to need very little staking. They really are such a lovely addition to the late summer border and something that I would highly recommend.

Further Reading

“Bulb” by Anna Pavord (ISBN 978 1 84533 415 4)

Suppliers

J. Parkers (dutchbulbs.co.uk)

Tulip celebration – mixtures and combinations

The tulips are at their most spectacular at the moment and I thought that it would be appropriate to celebrate them as part of Six on Saturday this week.

I have pulled together pictures of six combinations and mixtures that have worked particularly well for us this year. All were purchased from Parkers and planted in the autumn of 2019.


One: Ronaldo and Grand Perfection

Tulip Ronaldo came out slightly before Grand Perfection but the latter has now caught up and grown to a similar height.

P1040065 Ronaldo & Grand Perfection


Two: Pink Blend

This is one of Parker’s off-the-shelf mixtures so I am not entirely sure of the names of each of the varieties included.

P1040068 Pink Blend


Three: Purple Prince and Princess Irene

Princess Irene was much later and shorter than Purple Prince and initially we thought that this combination was not going to work very well. However they have now grown to a similar height and are looking lovely together in terracotta pots backed by a perennial planter of blue-grey foliage and purples.

P1040067 Purple Prince & Princess Irene


Four: Merlot, Marilyn and Maytime

One of our own combinations that we have used over a number of years in the old rose garden.

P1040070 Merlot Marilyn & Maytime


Five: Van Eijk Mixed

P1030974


Six: Apricot Pride and Stunning Apricot

These are two varieties that we have not tried before and they have proved to be lovely together sitting amongst the blue forget-me-nots.

P1040074 Apricot Pride & Stunning Apricot


The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.