New Varieties of Gladioli Produced
By Frank S. Morton
in Portland, Maine, Evening Express and Advertiser
THE revival in interest in the Gladiolus seems to be permanent and shows no diminution. The most marked indication of its popularity is shown by foreign growers, especially in Holland, where this flower is now growing in large numbers in fields where the tulip and hyacinth have for years had full sway. Two years ago one of the new American varieties was exhibited abroad for the first time and 40 cables were received by the grower here asking for all that could be had at the seller's price. This craze has resulted in the production of many new varieties and an increased interest in the older ones. The Gladiolus is a flower that lends itself easily to the cross breeder and every seed thus produced gives a different flower. But the major portion, of course, are very much the same as the parents and it is still quite rare that a flower is produced that shows new characteristics enough to be considered worth while. The old saying that many are called and few are chosen applies in this case as while the market is yearly flooded with new varieties, very few survive, as they generally develop weak points that later condemn them. There are only about half a dozen of distinct families and nearly all of those are of foreign origin. Lemoine of France originated a family to which his name was given, which has characteristics so distinct that there is no mistaking its members. Later he further experimented with the result that another race was named after his native town of Nancy. His son is still carrying on the work in that town today.
Luther Burbank has cross bred the Gladiolus in recent years but the result of his work has so far only shown new variations in colors and combinations but no new type. All over the United States and Canada hybridizers have been at work and many beautiful flowers have resulted. But only one man has succeeded in producing a new type, possessing characteristics entirely new. This is the new ruffled Gladiolus produced by A. E. Kunderd of Goshen, Indiana, and named by him Kunderdi type. The petals of this flower are ruffled and fluted like the petals of the newer sweet peas. The first variety put out was named Glory and was a creamy pink with a narrow line of darker pink through the lower petals. Since then it has been produced in many other shades and colors including yellow, salmon and white. His new white Glory is solid white with an Iris blue throat, as fine as a delicate Iris. White King is a rich sulphur white with throat markings.
The results of Mr. Kunderd's work are very gratifying to Americans as heretofore all the honors have been claimed by foreigners. The only family given an American name was originated in Germany and purchased and named by an American firm. But Mr. Kunderd has produced a sturdy race and there is scarcely a list offered anywhere in the world to the general public, excepting those, of course, offering exclusively the growers own bulbs, that does not contain some of his origin. Not only the ruffled type but many of the leading varieties in the other types are of his origin. One of the most popular and striking Gladioli of the present day is Mrs. Frank Pendleton, Jr., which was originated by Mr. Kunderd and the first stock sold to a Boston dealer who had a branch at Bar Harbor. A contest among the Bar Harbor ladies resulted in giving it the name it bear's but for some reason the stock was not increased as it should have been and it went into the background temporarily. Mr. L. Merton Gage, secretary of the American Gladiolus Society, recognized its worth and gathered in all the bulbs he could find and has increased the stock so that now it is quite generally raised and is considered one of the very best grown. Rajah was another variety that has always held top place and was sold to Mr. Montague Chamberlain of Boston. Last year Mr. Clark W. Brown of Ashland, Mass., swept away first prize on a new yellow named Mongolian, also originated by Mr. Kunderd.
The efforts of all hybridizers seem to be at present centered largely in an endeavor to produce a yellow that answers all the requirements. The yellow exists in smaller flowers in perfect shades but success in producing the same color in a large and healthy flower has so far met with only partial results. In England the Kelways claim success but the bulbs of Golden Measure, their best yellow, sells at such a high price that only the millionaire can afford them. In Holland two or three years ago over $8,000 was paid for about two pounds of bulbs of a yellow variety which was named Glory of Noordwijk. This has been increased so that at present the bulbs are quoted as low as $6 each. These two varieties seem at present to be the best yellows although an American grower, Mr. G. D. Black, of Independence, Iowa, has produced a fine yellow which he calls Golden King. This, however, has a dark colored blotch in the center which detracts somewhat from its value.
The quest for a yellow has been aided by the discovery five years ago, growing near the falls of Zambesi in Africa, a wild species, of a clear, pure yellow. This has been given the name of Primulinus, or Maid of the Mist. It is a very small flower, quite hooded, with the blossoms quite widely apart on the stalk. Outside of being novel, these characteristics are all against it in breeding. A large quantity of hybrids have appeared but they seem to be in a class by themselves so far, being very pretty and delicate, but the yellow color when transferred to a hybrid has so far taken with it faults of size or shape that have generally kept it in its own class. Crossed with reds the results have been a variety of delicate orange, salmon and variegated colors that are very beautiful.
While a bouquet of Gladioli made up of the modern shades and colors will attract attention anywhere, those who grow them have found that a blue flower seems to be the greatest novelty. Those who have never seen any but the old fashioned red and yellow flowers are generally surprised to see a blue flower in the collection. Yet the blues are getting quite common now although the best ones are still regarded choice. A pure blue is still to be found as those called blues are more likely to be violets and purples. The best blue yet found is Blue Jay, originated by H. H. Groff, a banker of Simcoe, Canada. This gentleman and his American associate, Mr. Arthur Cowee of Berlin, N. Y., are to be credited with some of the finest of Gladioli. Another blue that is very striking is Baron Hulot, originated by Lemoine of France. This is a deep violet and purple with white marks. The blue flowers are generally smaller, but a bouquet of Baron Hulot and one of the yellows, mixed, is worth seeing. The blues owe their parentage largely to another wild African species known as Papilio major.
The old standard kind known as America, is still one of the most popular although its originator has introduced an improved and deeper pink which he calls Panama. This is the variety that was the cause of so many cablegrams as mentioned above. Niagara by the same producer is one of the finest of the light yellows and this trio from one breeder is hard to excel.