Country Gardens

When you look outside of Mom and Dad's kitchen window in midsummer the view is breathtaking. Delphiniums spiking toward the window dazzle in shades of mauve, blue, purple, lilac and white. For most people the Delphinium is the stately queen of the herbaceous border. When grown by an experienced gardener the spikes of large flowers on top of leafy stems tower above the surrounding plants. Unfortunately it is not an easy plant to grow really well. You will have to ensure that the soil is fertile and well-drained, and you should plant good-quality stock in April. You will have to take measures to control slugs and to keep powdery mildew in check. You must not neglect watering in dry weather and staking with strong canes is needed with tall varieties. Pinching out the tips when the stems are one to two feet high results in bushier and shorter plants. When the main flowering season is over in July cut back the spikes to induce another flush of flowers in autumn. The plants will deteriorate with age, the answer is to lift the clumps in spring every few years and divide them, replanting the most vigorous sections.

Delphiniums Bullet Delphiniums

The most popular varieties belong to the Elatum group which have D. elatum as the parent species. These plants have the classical Delphinium shape and flower form with upright spikes bearing large flat flowers which may be semi-double or doube. They attain a height of four to five feet.

The tall ones grow to six feet and include 'Gordon Forsysth' (blue), 'Bruce' (purple), 'Fanfare' (mauve), 'Faust' (blue), 'Michael Ayres' (purple) and 'Nimrod' (purple).

The medium varieties are numerous, look for 'Blue Nile' (blue), 'Royal Flush' (pink), 'Sungleam' (pale yellow), 'Min' (pale purple), 'Spindrift' (blue/lilac) and 'Turkish Delight' (pink/mauve).

The dwarfs grow three to four feet high and examples are 'Lord Butler' (blue), 'Tiddles' (mauve) and 'Mighty Atom' (blue).

The second major section is the Belladonna group which attains a height of three to four feet with slender stems and branching flowerheads that are cupped not flat. The blooms are small and wide spreading. Popular varieties include 'Pink Sensation', 'Casa Blanca' and 'Blue Bees'.

The third section is the Pacific group. They are tall, large flowered plants which are grown from seeds as annuals or biennials. Look for 'Galahad' (white), 'King Arthur' (purple) and 'Guinevere' (pale purple).

Delphiniums require well drained fertile soil and thrive best in a sunny and sheltered site. To propagate divide clumps in spring. With Pacific Delphiniums sow seeds in March in gentle heat and plant out in May.

Country Gardens Index Page 12 Page 14 Home