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It’s that time of year when children countrywide  troop into primary school clutching a present for the teacher as they wave good bye to one school year  and look forward to six weeks of free-range life. Mine are no different – and thus far we’ve  always managed to make it ourselves. That’s part of the fun. In the recent past we have stashed chutneys, jams, lavender sugar, homemade lemonade, and homemade fudge into the basket on the last day but this year we’ve plumped for something homegrown instead – due mostly to a distinct lack of time

Gladiolus callianthus  or Acidanthera (peacock orchids are what my granny called them) are elegant,  late Summer flowering beauties. with an alluring scent. I have to thank  Laetitia Maklouf for reminding me about them in her latest book *Sweetpeas for Summer*. – and also for the generous use of the picture. There was usually a pot hanging around our house in the Summer but I have to admit to labelling anything with the name gladiolus as not for me and orchid as too much faff. These couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s how….

Take three children on a rainy day at the end of May with a small budget, little time and a ready-made supply of compost and terracotta pots.

Add in an ability to search on ebay for corms and a mum with a paypal account. Ask Mum to complete the transaction.

Wait for the postman to deliver.

Open up the parcel. Plant corms in pots in the usual way. You can pack  7 corms into a 25cm pot. Water well and place in a warm, sheltered spot outside. Allow the rain to water naturally over the next few weeks.

During the last week of term bring inside. Wrap pots with hessian and string. Write a special message for your teacher on the label and deliver to school.

Guaranteed to cheer up a hardworking teacher when they bloom just as the ‘back to work blues’ set in at the end of the Summer hols – perfect in every way.