The gladiolus is the birth flower for the month of August. This beauty gets its name from the Latin word for "sword" due to the way in which its flowers emerge upward along a tall center stem, resembling a sword. This plant family, which includes over 300 species, is native to South Africa and boasts colorful blooms in various shades and tints ranging from white to deep red to aubergine.
In Latin/Greek cultures, the flower became associated with the Gladiators, and when given as gifts, reflected strength of character of the recipient. In some African communities, gladiolus are believed to have health benefits and medicinal properties, and have been used in some cultures to treat conditions such as upset stomach and the common cold, as well as hormonal imbalances in women.
These and other late-season bloomers are particularly appreciated by honeybees, as they can help ease the transition into the approaching fall season when blooms become more scarce as the bees busily prepare for winter. If you are gardening this fall, consider including some flowering crops, herbs or ornamental plants which attract bees and other pollinators. This gives our tiny helpers a little boost of nectar and pollen stores which they can use late in the season to help them survive over the coming winter.
Happy Birthday to all our friends celebrating life this month!