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.


January 2005

2004! What a year!

Shortly after the Albany convention I received a call asking if I would be a 'paper' candidate for the Maine state legislature. No real responsibility. Just get the required 50 signatures to hold the seat open until a 'real' candidate was found.

Never agree to such an innocuous-sounding proposal because the political bug is very contagious! Soon good political friends were saying, "Why don't you go for it? You'd be great!" and I thought, "I'm retired from teaching, so why not?"

If you think you can do a political campaign with your left hand while your right hand is doing all the planting, weeding, flower-sales, etc., think again! Politics is time-consuming. Still, the glads and other flowers got planted and all the other work got done because of one resolution: no door-to-door campaigning until Sept. 15th, when sales will be winding down. Also, two very dependable high school age weeders and our family pitching in were a godsend.

Then, right in the middle of a season in which I had not focused quite as much on flowers, my attention was brought with a jolt into strong focus on the glads. The reason: Deanna. Surely we had never seen a more beautiful glad: an exquisite multi-toned rose with wonderful substance, placement, and ruffling. It opened four the first day, so we were not surprised that sixteen were open before fading began.

Of course, an old-time grower has to ask, "How will this cultivar hold up? Does it have the stamina to resist all the health-related pitfalls to which glads are subject? As of now, Deanna is as near perfect as one could ever imagine, and we will do our best to keep it that way. A sincere 'thank-you' to Lyle Madeson!

2004 was a good year for our commercial cut-flower sales. Even white glads, a perennial favorite, saw sharply reduced demand. The deep violets -- Purple Haze, Violetta, Violet Queen, and Astro -- were a sellout. Bright yellow glads -- Golden Star, Golden Age, and an excellent Summerville seedling -- were always in more demand than we could supply.

I lost the election, though 42% isn't bad for a challenger to a popular incumbent!

I'm not sure how we did it -- it was mainly the achievement of our son Chris -- but we had the corms dug on time and all were cleaned and in storage by early December.

This year we are picking up a number of old-timers to try out and are buying a few interesting newer cultivars.

We have passed the autumnal equinox and now have 9½ hours of daylight. Spring is coming, and I'm looking forward to energetic summer work in our flower fields. And guess what: there's no election this year!

Do I plan to run again in 2006 at the tender age of 81? Time will tell!



Previous Letters

2001: "We feel a strong sense of loyalty to old-time glads..." [READ MORE]
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]