About Good Scents

The cut flower business ended in 2011 but I continue to post other items about gardening.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

2009 Delphiniums

I just took the delphinium flats out of the fridge where they have been for the past 3 weeks. This year I am growing 200 'Aurora' as well as 200 of a new one called 'New Century'. I'm not sure they are any better than 'Clear Springs' which is what I usually grow. Both 'Aurora' and 'New Century' are hybrids so all the plants of a particular color should look identical. On the other hand, because 'Clear Springs' is open pollinated, each plant is slightly different and that means you sometimes find interesting surprises like nearly turquoise blues or whites with faint green markings in the bees.

I recently read the delphinium section of Hardy Perennials by the English garden writer Graham Rice. In most parts of the USA, delphiniums are short lived perennials so our only option is to obtain seed grown plants. In England it is a different story. England's climate allows delphiniums to be long lived perennials so many individual cultivars (i.e. clones) of delphiniums are available, with names like 'Giotto', 'Summerfield Miranda' and 'Tiddles'. There is a Delphinium Society, special RHS medals for delphiniums and annual RHS trials at Wisley where you can view all the latest delphimiums. I don't know why this seems so eccentric to me, it is really no different than our Hemerocallis, Dahlia and Hosta societies which also have display gardens, medals, and so on. I guess I'm just not enough of a fanatic about any one plant to want to belong to a society devoted to it.

Nevertheless, if I ever have some spare time and space (I can dream, can't I?), I'd like to order some delphinium seed from New Zealand where some of the recent English medal winners have originated. You can check it out here: New Millenium Delphiniums. Of course, these New Millenium delphiniums will not be the dwarf 3-5 foot varieties I grow for cutting, but the 5-8 foot monsters which require a stake dedicated to each flower spike. If anyone decides to grow some, please send some pictures and I will post them here.


TerryD said...

Great to see an article about delphiniums Kirk! I'm Terry Dowdeswell and I produce the New Millennium series that you mentioned. Thanks for the plug :-)

Actually, not all of our seedlines are 8ft giants and we do produce some for the cut flower market. The best of these, Green Twist, is a white tinged with green on the young flowers and grows to about 3 ft. In New Zealand this variety produces flowers almost constantly from November until the following June.

Thanks again for the mention.

Kirk said...

Uh oh - Green Twist was the one I was already most intrigued by. Looks like I'm going to have to order some seeds!