Friday, July 7, 2017

Cades Cove Heirloom Gladiolas 2017

Bolivian Peach Heirloom Gladiola 

Cades Cove Heirloom Gladiolas 

Friday June 30, 2017

Dana Koogler 

Pictures are here starting with frame 44 

 I have gotten more and more interested in heirloom flowers  in the past few years.  
Heirloom flowers are old varieties of ornamental flowering plants that are very old. 
They are often found continuing to bloom at home sites.  Sometimes the houses and buildings
still stand, but quite often flowers continue to bloom yearly long after the structures have 
totally disappeared.   I love the sense of history they convey. I also love the fact they have managed
to endure and continue to be beautiful long after the people who planted them are gone.
I am not sure how old a flower type has to be in order to be considered an "heirloom". 
I do know there are different schools of thought on the topic.  One group holds to the idea that
1945 the end of World War II is the cut off point since after that marked the widespread use of
garden hybrids.  Another group says 1951 is the absolute latest a flower can be from that can 
still be considered an heirloom. After that date marked even greater use of hybrid cultivars in
ornamental plants and flowers.   Growers and sellers of flowering plants develop their own
standards for what they will accept and consider an heirloom variety.  
First gladiola location around the Cades Cove Loop Road

This color is supposed to be Bolivian Peach. It IS but I have found a good bit of variability in the type.  Some are a darker more orange shade. Others are true peach. These have a flash of red down the throat.   I wondered if they were hybridizing? The answer is yes. They could be!  An heirloom has been naturally pollinated. On its own by bees or insects and not messed with by man. So that is very possible especially in the field where there were several shades that are both the true originals and then every shade between them!  
   Heirloom flowers or vegetables are pure genetically. They produce the same resulting 
flower bloom or vegetable consistently.  They have not been modified genetically. Consequently
they are going to perform or fail on their own merits.  They will either be hardy and strong or 
have failings and not do well.   I have personally tried growing heirloom pumpkins and tomatoes.
I have had success with some and failure with others.  They can be frustrating to grow.
Attempting to grow heirloom vegetables in particular is a good way to be reminded of WHY 
they hybrid species were developed to start with!  It is generally to overcome the weaknesses 
of the breed.  For example a certain type of tomato may be prone to blossom end rot. 
Hybrid types are mixed breeds that have resistance to such diseases.     
Wild bergamot and Black eyed susans are other pretty Summer wildflowers in bloom now.
Another beautiful Summer wildflower that is great for the butterflies is the orange and yellow butterfly weed. It is a species of native milkweed.   If you see this growing in a field near your house 
you could dig up a little start of it and almost certainly get it to grow in your flower bed.  It is very hardy and will set seed and spread. It is mentioned in the Best Garden Plants for Tennessee book.
   The focus today is the heirloom gladiolas in Cades Cove.  I have managed to 
identify four  of them definitively.  Many of these varieties of gladiolas are from such old stock their heritage has been lost. I am not sure in looking at the largest patch in Cades Cove that they are not hybridizing  on their own.  They are starting to remind me of the native hybridizing azaleas on Gregory Bald!    Growers of newer varieties of gladiolas know that the bulbs need to be dug up and placed in storage each Autumn before the first frost. We used to dig ours up each Fall. We'd let them dry a little and then put them in a paper bag in a dark shed or in the refrigerator drawer at home.
The old type gladiolas in Cades Cove are resistant to the cold and especially hardy.  They are mostly Abyssinian and tough as nails! (Abyssinia is the ancient name for Ethiopia on the continent of Africa)  They don't have to be dug and stored and replanted each Spring. They have multiplied and
spread on their own  because they bloom in zone 7.   Anything more northerly than that and they'd still have to be dug and stored and replanted to ensure they did not freeze and die.
I have seen them persist at old  home sites in zone 6 though.   I cannot help wondering if out in the woods in the park are more undiscovered home sites with these blooming?  It is fun to imagine. 
Below is a shot of the second location around the loop.  



Above is the largest patch of heirloom glads in Cades Cove and that I have ever seen anywhere.
The old time name for them was Sword Lilies.  They are quite tall. I'd say these are  3 1/2 to 4 feet tall from the ground to the tip.  They are supported and protected some by the surrounding vegetation especially the blackberry brambles.   You see represented here bolivian peach, boone, maid of the mist, carolina primrose, some I don't know the names of. Among them are many shades that are only a slight variation on the cultivar which I believe are naturally occurring hybrids.  It will be interesting
as I study them to see if the ones I believe natural hybrids produce the same colors and patterns year after year.  

the most amazing shades of coral
Shades of pink and peach tinged with yellow.


Sword lilies indeed!  

    Back during the time these bulbs were planted there was not as many kinds to pick from or outlets to buy things.  Folks didn't have a lot of spare money to buy pretty and un-necessary things like ornamental flowers.   These were probably someone's pride and joy back during their lifetime. 
Nearly all types of hardy plants that come from bulbs will multiply and need to be separated out 
at some point.  Doing this helps propagate them and preserves the species.  It is a good way for neighbors to give each other a nice present.  My great grandmother grew these every year. One of her favorites does not appear in Cades Cove. It is the old heirloom cultivar "Atom" which is fire engine red.   She had them growing at the margins of her vegetable garden.  Somewhere I have a photo of her standing by them wearing her poke bonnet.  She had a white father and a Native American mother.   She grew lots of the same sorts of things I see in the Cherokee Gardens on the Qualla 
Boundary.    She was a German Anabaptist..also known as  Brethren.  The Love Feast--Foot Washing in the Brethren Church 


Carolina primrose is the name of this cultivar.
One of many spots around the front of the loop road.  Across the road in the field were more of the same type.   I have placed GPS coordinates on all these locations and submitted them to Dana Soehn
the head ranger with the National Park Service for the Smokies.  She asked me to remind her each June 1st and she will see to it that the mowers do not cut these down.  

Yet another type on the way to the Elijah Oliver cabin.  
This is a one of a kind in the cove to my knowledge.

Bonnie's Favorite Cascade on Mill Creek. Right next to Forge Creek Road.
I stopped here to enjoy the view. Near this spot are more heirloom glads!

Above and below are the two colors that grow near the cascade. A pink form and
a white form.  Both beautiful and both covered in rain drops.  The pink one may be one called Old Fort hardy gladiola cultivar. I have seen it in Old Fort NC and it can be purchased from Plant Delights Nursery and a few other specialty places.

  I spent half a day hiking in the rain hunting these.  I was soaked to the skin by the time I was done.
I went to Dollar General and bought a pair of shorts, a t shirt, a rain poncho and an umbrella.
I drove out to Caylors Chapel and pulled into the parking lot. I changed clothes. I put on the poncho.
I drove out to The Lily Barn and finished up my day with my poncho and umbrella and dry clothing.
I will write up The Lily Barn entry next.  It was a rewarding and colorful day!

And of course since I purchased rain gear .. while at The Lily Barn the sun came out
and I was the proud owner of a sauna suit!   

  I wanted to include a groovy tune with this blog entry.  I could find nothing that pertained to gladiolas or heirloom flowers that I liked.  I added a favorite tune from a favorite band.
Stephen Stills of CSN& Y 1974... singing Johnny's Garden.  It suits the mood of the day perfectly.
Mellow and happy.  Enjoy.

**If you know of any heirloom flower locations in the Smokies within the park or in our area.. please do not hesistate to bring them to my attention.  I'd love to get some photos and learn more about them.   You can email me dkoogler@gmail dot com 

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