Gladiolus callianthus is a pretty plant that emerges from a corm – a bulb-like underground stem. Its long, slightly pleated deep green leaves provide a lush foil to the white flowers with a chocolate throat; these flowers also have a delicate perfume. The buds appear almost unnoticed before the flowers emerge. The plant grows around two feet high, and likes to be planted deeply in a warm spot with moist, well-drained soil. A sunny spot is best, particularly if it catches the evening sun.
It’s a good idea to plant them near a path or doorway so you can enjoy the gentle perfume. The corms are not generally hardy in the UK, as the plant originally comes from Ethiopia. They are inexpensive to buy in the spring and flower in the same year. Plant the corms in late spring, then lift them in late October when the leaves have died down and store in a cool, dry, frost-free place before replanting in the late spring. You can see them growing in the Provost’s garden of Queen’s College.