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An interest they’re glad to have discovered

Sacia Lynn and Killarney gladiolas took form in the Honker Flats garden. The Wallaces began planting their first gladiolas in 1995. Today, they grow three acres of gladiolas, home to hundreds of varieties, including seedlings.

Tammy Wallace is pictured with her interpretive arrangement, “For Spacious Skies,” at the 2016 Honker Flats show, earning section champion for it. Winning many shows they’ve participated in, Lew and Tammy have also made flower designing a family affair, as their 25-year old son Marcus has been designing since age four. (submitted photo)

Lew Wallace holds some Kris Kringle gladiolas in his garden out at Honker Flats in rural Middle River. Honker Flats offers between 100 and 150 kinds of gladiolas in their catalog called “Gladiolus Exoticus,” introduced in 2006. (submitted photo)

Rows upon rows of rectangular black containers, labeled by variety, are filled with brown and red flattened onion-looking mother corms nestled in a building on the Lew and Tammy Wallace property in rural Middle River. The owners of Honker Flats Greenhouse, the Wallaces plant these corms, topped by little buds or eyes, by hand in their garden usually in the spring. Welcome to Gladiolus Exoticus.

These mother corms develop their own roots from their bottoms and eventually the buds from their tops are activated under the proper conditions. These buds continue to grow into plants, thanks to nutrients fed by the mother corm. When they become big enough, the plants eventually start to develop their own roots, as the mother corm’s role diminishes, and once their leaves emerge and absorb all that sunlight, these plants become their own entities. The mother corm is no longer important to the plants, having produced and given life to these plants, or what Lew called its identical selves. 

From planting to blooming, this process takes between 55 and 120 days and at the end of it comes flower spikes of various colors, sizes, and substance—gladiolas. 

Studying and training to be horticulture judges at the time, Lew and Tammy Wallace’s first experience with gladiolas came in 1994 when they attended a gladiolas show in Winnipeg. 

“We found the combination of beautiful flowers, that really just sort of inspired us, and people,” Lew said. “It’s still a people thing. We just enjoy… working and learning about the other people, gardeners and stuff.”

From that point on, they have become immersed in the gladiolus world. Lew discussed his and Tammy’s time within the gladiolus world, some gladiolus designing and planting tips, and briefly an award he and Tammy won.     

To see the full story, read the May 11 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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