Tuesday, 6 July 2010
I asked the local flower stall holder we patronise ('tell me, my good man...') why you get so much for your money when you buy glads. He reckoned it was because they are unfashionable. Still? They seem to have been unfashionable for as long as I have been noticing flowers.
It would be easy to blame their status on Dame Edna, who for decades now has cast armfuls of the things into her audiences, making them her signature flower. And yet the meticulous Barry Humphries must have been drawing on an existing naffness when he chose them.
Even without knowing anything about suburban Melbourne and its floral tastes, a critical, rather puritanical eye might see something flashy about them, a touch of grossness, a primped bourgeioserie. They have a rather stately, self-regarding look, which one might wish to deflate. Perhaps it should have been Gladiolus Bucket rather than Hyacinth?
But, thankfully, we don't have a critical, puritanical eye: a bit of exuberance and colour are always welcome.
Looking up the etymology, it turns out that the word 'gladiolus' references the sword-shaped leaves and presumably the long pointed flower-stem; hence its other name, the sword-lily. So not a bad flower to put in the hands of a formidable old bag who regards her audience as adversaries: a comic gladiator armed with gladioli.
Well, whatever its fashion status, we don't care. After all, they were good enough for Van Gogh (above). And long may they remain unfashionable; long may they remain a bargain.