Wish I had weeds like this...

Driving to a clients place a few years back, I was all but blinded by this outrageous garden en route, bursting at the seams with Gladiolus dalenii.  I had to stop and take some pics.

(Apologies for the pic – my camera went into melt-down trying to process that colour, creating the distortion equivalent of turning speakers up too loud.  Having said that, my eyes had the same response).

Now I think of it, I remember a garden somewhere in the far eastern suburbs of Melbourne with a similar display.  I was heading back from the old Din San nursery as a young apprentice with the head gardener at Ripponlea, when we were similarly – and literally – stopped in our tracks.  There was absolutely nothing else in the garden, other than solid borders of this gladiolus.  We had a chat to the owner of the house who promised us bulbs when they were dormant, but this was never followed up. We should have just taken some at the time.  Strange – I’ve never put those two incidents together until just now.

The first few times I went back to visit the client of the earlier story, I’d cruise around this gently curving road, waiting for the visual slam.  The experience was never repeated.  At first I assumed that it was just a matter of not returning at the same time of year.  Then I started to wonder if I was driving the opposite way around this circular road to my destination and tried to identify the garden from the vague memory I had of these pics.  Eventually my client told me that the owners had removed every last bulb.

OK, they must have been an absolute pain to garden around, and no doubt their tall annual growth would have made compost of any other young plants in their midst, but once I did manage to identify the garden, it was clear that nothing else worthwhile had taken their place.  Why didn’t they just leave them?  They were, in a word, hilarious – and how many gardens achieve that?

Clearly you can have way too much of a good thing..

(for those interested, it appears that G. dalenii = G. psittacina = G. natalensis.  My irrelevant favour falls to G. psittacina, as it’s latin for parrot, which refers to the parrot-beak shape of the hooded upper petal.  But G. dalenii it is)

Hey, since writing this, I’ve become aware of Ambra Sancin’s post on gladdies at http://ambradambra.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/i-gladiolus/.  It’s got me thinking about what to stuff ’em with.


  1. I hate to use these three letters, but OMG. Those gladdies look pretty impressive. I’m starting a movement to champion their cause, and wrote a blogpost about it not so long ago. Cheers http://ambradambra.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/i-gladiolus/

    1. I’ll check out that post immejetly.
      Of course, not all gladdies could manage this. G. dalenii is obviously pretty vigorous, to put it mildly. Any day now i’m expecting the first flowers on a local colony of the deliciously evening-scented G. tristis along our railway line. I keep meaning to collect the seed and try and establish it in grass at home. (Actually, I live in terror of the local landcare group recognising it as a weed and removing it – there’s only about half a dozen plants there, which haven’t increased in the ten years I’ve been watching them, so they clearly don’t pose a threat. Unfortunately, weed police don’t recognise any shades of grey..)

    2. Oooh, let me know about the progress of the G. tristis. Didn’t realise there was a scented gladdie.

  2. You know even full on weeds can have some lovely qualities… there’s a little bronze leaf clover that blends so beautifully around the edges of my box hedge I’m loathe to rip it out… and looking at some amazingly formed leaves of a dandelion right at my front gate post… I nearly hesitated with the roundup in hand.. isn’t the definition of a weed just a plant in the wrong place at the wrong time? Somewhere someone is mowing up the lilly of the valley …”What’s this wretched thing doing back here?!!” or some housewife in Tibet ripping out bunches of those Blue Alpine Poppies we’d give our eye teeth for!

    1. And she’s clearing them out to stop them overshadowing a sickly little grevillea she’s been nurturing there for a decade..
      Your little bronze leaf clover is actually an oxalis, and it seems to have come to some agreement with box hedging. It’s where you see it most. As for the dandelions, the french grow them in rows, feed ’em up and tie their outside leaves up around the crown in order to blanch them (like endive, radicchio and chicory), and add them to salads

  3. Bill and Ben said “WWWWEEEEEDDDDSSS” I suspect they only knew their impact as individuals. When I see a hillside swathed in Patersons Curse I confess to a guilty pleasure.In spring when forgetmenots caerulean haze calms the seasons forceful energy I know I can whippersnip them quickly or pull them from the crown in an afternoons weeding and they are eradicated all too soon. Over winter they have smothered the more pernicious weeds , the flick weed and wintergrass(Poa annua). Forgetme nots are not just pretty; in my garden they have a purpose. Yet despite brutal treatment they always come back. Some weeds only have nuisance value, some catch our attention having achieved a perfect picture without our interfering hand.

  4. […] I’ve just read the latest post on one of my favourite blogs ‘The Gardenist’. Yes, it’s all about the gladdie! Share this:TwitterFacebookGooglePinterestLike this:Like […]

Leave a Comment

More Blog Posts

A Pinch of Floral Spice

One of the really big questions is how much garden space should be allocated to good, reliable plant matrix, and how much to seasonal, colourful, ephemeral blast.  It’s sort of the same as when you ...

Would someone please tell me what to think?

I think I’m past the plant snobbery phase.  You kind of have to let it go when you observe yourself starting to really enjoy plants again that you once dismissed, and so accept what you’ve suspec ...

PLANT OF THE WEEK #19: Kniphofia sarmentosa

While the sun has just broken through the cloud this afternoon, most of today has been cold, wet and gloomy.  The garden is looking sparse, partly because it’s winter and partly because I’ve just ...