I feel bad



Well, this should destroy whatever minimal shreds of confidence any of you may have had in my horticultural expertise. Last Saturday, I spent four hours at our local garden show, Plantasia, not because it’s such a fantastic show (it’s fine), but because my magazine is a sponsor and we have a booth there.

So here I am, hawking magazine subscriptions, enticing suc—I mean, potential happy owners of a subscription to Buffalo Spree with our great introductory offer of ten issues, medical resource guide, performing arts guide, holiday shopping guide, AND this fabulous free gift:

Eight (8) Orchid Glad bulbs in a Small Natural Cotton Bag and Two-Color Tag. Give the perfect green gift: Flowering bulbs in environmentally friendly packaging, an all-natural, unbleached cotton bag with cord drawstrings, customized with a two-color hanging tag. This gift will inspire customers, prospects and employees to go green, and remind them of your organization’s commitment to the environment every year when their plants grow, and flowers bloom! Cotton bag dimensions: 3” x 4”

I hadn’t bothered checking these out beforehand, so I’m babbling away talking about how great they are and how they will probably naturalize and all this crap—I think I had them confused with ipheion, which does spread (it’s practically a weed). Well, as you all probably knew from the instant you saw the image, these bulbs are gladiolus callianthus “Murielae,” hardy only in zones 7 and above, so they’re unlikely to naturalize in any garden around here.

Of course, Western Promotions did not bother to include this information when they sold these to our circulation director. Most bulb promotions are pretty much the same: no botanical information, no culture requirements, no nothing. Just a pretty name like “Orchid Glad,” “Lavender Mountain Lily,” Fairy Lily,” and “Queen Fabiola,” with the instructions “plant in the spring.”

It’s not that terrible. The bulbs were free, pretty, and they’ll bloom one season anyway. I kept a couple bags for myself.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. There are regular kind gladiolus growing here in a NC zone 6b/5a that have survived and multiplied for many years without winter digging and storage. They were left outside to die one year because it was just to much trouble to dig them up and they still haven’t years later.

    The “Lavender Mountain Lilies” you sent me have come up. Time will tell how they fare. All the bulbs I planted last fall are weeks behind the ones that have been in the ground for years. Is that normal?

  2. Chrisopher C, it’s totally normal for first-year bulbs to lag behind. I notice it with tulips–identical varieties, but the ones from the previous season come up a week or two earlier.

    Elizabeth, don’t feel so bad. Abyssinian glads are cheap enough to use as annuals and easy to dig and winter over.

  3. Don’t feel so bad about confusing them with something else, Elizabeth. If someone gave those to me at a show and called them Gladiolus callianthus, I’d have said, “Nuh uh… Acidanthera bicolor.”

    Damned fickle botanists and their name changes…

    Oh, and Dave’s Garden lists them as being hardy down to USDA 7a. That’s zero degrees F. Brrrrrrr.

    Mine come back faithfully every year in Carmichael/Sacramento. Not boasting… just stating a fact. 😉

  4. Yeah, well those hardiness zone temps are dumber than the name changes. Because it hardly ever gets that cold here and we are in zone 5 where this would not survive.

    Something I’m missing there.

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