I am increasingly enchanted by the species Gladioli. Gladiolus papilio is a vigorous species with bell-shaped lilac flowers that are tinged with grey. In the wild the flowers are variable in colour, and I grow a beautiful red form that has butterfly-shaped markings on the inside of the flower. There is a pure red cultivar, G’. papilio ‘Ruby’ that is supposed to have retained the hardiness of the species. During the cold winter of 2010 both the species and the red form survived in my garden. Unfortunately Ruby died.
The species grows in Souith Africa; the hybrid was raised in New Zealand and grows to about 50cm tall.