The Golden Gladiolus
Gladiolus aureus is a very special plant, known from a single locality on the Cape Peninsula, where it is highly endangered by encroaching alien vegetation. It is in limited cultivation outside of South Africa, but I got seeds years ago from Kirstenbosch when they sent free seed to members of the Botanical Society of South Africa. I kept these seeds refrigerated for many years, and was able to get three healthy plants from the packet. One bloomed this year, and I traded pollen with someone in California who had one clone only (and he reported it is self sterile). I was unable to set seed with the pollen I got, though I hope he was more successful. In any case, it is likely that the other two plants will flower next year, then I should be able to set plenty of seed. It is a diminutive plant, not even a foot high, but the flowers are eye catching and charming. I grow it in a cold garage under lights but it can get some winter sun for part of the day as well. I noticed that my winter growing plants did very well in the cold garage this year in our new home, better than they did in warmer conditions in the apartment atop my parents house where we were before. However I also found out one bad thing, Uncarinas (a genus of mostly large growing caudiciform plants from Madagascar) do not store well cold and dry, they don't mind the dry so much for winter (I've kept them in my classroom in past years, often dormant) but they hated the cold and I lost several to rot and they will be hard or impossible to replace. Ditto for adeniums, cold=death, but at least they are common enough. Yet summer growing bulbs stored very well, and the winter growers which like cool temperatures anyway thrived.
Saturday, February 9, 2013
|My maternal grandmother's grave|
|Grace and I on East River Mountain, Bluefield West Virginia|
She told me the night before that she didnt feel well, she thought she had a bad cold, though she had no temperature. I suggested that if she felt really bad, she should call emergency, but she thought it was not that important and in any case I would be down the next afternoon to visit anyway.
My mom was a strong person that was the matriarch of the family, my dad depended on her in so many ways. She was fair, but could be feisty, but we all knew that she loved us and that she would have wanted to go fast as she did not like hospitals nor doctors. While we knew her health wasn't great, especially due to her shortness of breath which we presumed was brought on by a lifetime of smoking, a habit she could not quit though she tried, she did beat early stage breast cancer last year and till the end was always up and about, going shopping, making dinner for dad, etc. Her death was a shock to us all, and came at a particularly bad time for me as I was already grappling with an anxiety disorder recurrence after several other stressful events in the last few months.
I can't say I got my love for flowers from my mom, it was her grandmother that really inspired me in my early youth. Mom was not much for gardening, she liked simple things like hostas and azaleas, and certain other flowers she considered pretty. When I lived in the same house as my parents I got much flak from my mom over "tall" plants, she particularly didn't like lilies (reminded her of funerals), a tall Helianthus giganteus hybrid I grew from seed, and also when we moved she made me dig up all of the Zingiber mioga and take it to the new house. She thought it looked like corn and hated when a stalk or two would hang over the sidewalk. She did not appreciate botanically interesting/plant geek type of stuff but she did like colorful flowers. She liked peonies and tulips, and liked when I would cut some for her table. She also liked roses, especially a pink Mary rose I planted for her in the backyard.
I wish she was less reluctant to travel far in her later years, many times I invited her to come to Bluefield with Grace and I on our summer drive down south, but she was afraid of bridges, fast moving traffic, and always worried about dad. She did have a nice weekend just before she passed, when one of my three sisters brought down some good food. All four of us spoke with her often, and Grace and I also visited frequently since we got the new house (and invited them to come live with us if they ever wanted to). I wish we had a chance to say goodbye, but Grace and I will get to fulfill her last wish, which is to take her ashes back to Bluefield and intern them next to her mother's plot in the cemetery in nearby Bluewell. Unlike many New York cemeteries, it is not particularly crowded, quite beautiful and the hillside she will be in faces east to catch the rising sun.
Like the photos on my blog, the past lives on in our memories. I trust my mom is in a better place where sickness and worries are not found, and she still lives on here in our memories and in ourselves, for we would not be who we are without her having been such an important part of our lives. RIP mom, we miss you.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
There are named cultivars of this that are propagated from cutting, I did get a couple of these from Forest Farm and am curious to see how they compare to the seed grown plants. Right now neither of the two plants from FF is in bloom, but I anticipate they will do so in about a month or so.