Notes from Up North

Although we're not the northernmost supplier of gladiolus in the Western Hemisphere, we're pretty far up there! With that in mind, the annual letter which appears in our catalog is called "Notes from Up North." Generally we convince Paul to write it while Elisabeth and the rest of the Cates Family Glads team work on inventory and creating the price list. It's our way of keeping in touch with our loyal customer base.


January2001

You probably know that we feel a strong sense of loyalty to old-time glads. Many of these have helped to support our family and continue to do so. Keeping some varieties going is a piece of cake. Others require some or even a lot of support.

Silver Dollar, Bibi, and Violet Queen go on from year to year with little or no special help. All three remain very popular with our customers. Early Highlight, Melodie (the old Dutch butterfly glad), Maybride, Spring Maid (Summerville's first introduction), Apricot Lustre, Party Pink, Empire Yellow, and Golden Star require a fall and/or spring disinfecting dip every few years, but all are doing very well. Friendship, considering its age, is amazingly robust.

Blue Smoke is well worth the extra effort needed to maintain its health. We have discarded Picardy, since a dozen or so blossoms this year were all virus-infected. We still have a few Tartarian, but will discard it since Stromboli and Pierre are similar in color but both are much better quality. A few each of King David, Frisky, and Black Lash are still in our collection and we have a good supply of Witch Doctor.

Of course we have discarded or simply lost a number of old-timers. Domino (the Statuette seedling) is barely holding on. We harvested one small bulb of Domino this year.

You have a real sense of achievement when you succeed in reviving a variety you had thought to be extinct. Two years ago we found a small bag of fairly ancient Little Mo bulblets. We planted them in 2000, and several germinated. This past summer we harvested several blossoms. Yes, these were really Little Mo, which I recall was high in its symposium category for a number of years.

Have you ever saved and propagated a "mixed in" variety, which you could never identify? We have several hundred 'Holland Red', a glad of modest form whose vibrant burgundy color makes it a favorite in our early collection. It appeared in a collection of Dutch butterfly glads which we purchased in 1970. Then there is a nice cream, burgundy and yellow variety which we simply call 'Butterfly'. It may be nameless, but we like it anyway.

About five years ago, a large plain-petaled glad of beautiful burnt-yellow color appeared in late August in a planting of First Pink which had long since finished blooming. I was very busy that day, thought, "Rogue glad!", pulled it up, and discarded it. Many times during that ensuing winter I thought, "What a great color! Why didn't I save that glad?"

I described the glad to a number of growers, including Melk, the source of the First Pink bulbs. Nobody could identify it. Last winter I resolved to clean all our First Pink bulbs myself, looking for mix-ins. Three healthy large bulbs were of a much lighter color than the others and were isolated. You can believe that last summer three glads got more attention from me than all our other glads combined. The first two bloomed mid-August and were of a beautiful light yellow color. They were either Aubrey Lane or a twin of Aubrey Lane.

Sadly, there was no burnt-yellow glad among them.



Previous Letters

2000: "This year I resolved to follow Botran directions exactly..." [READ MORE]
1997: "If you're selling glads commercially, color becomes your focus..." [READ MORE]
1996: "It always seemed to me to be a minor scandal..." [READ MORE]