|Delphinium Blue Bird (Pacific Giants) sown Feb 2019|
|Delphinium Black Knight from Seed (2012)|
Time for it's triumphant return! Tall Black Knight seeds went in the online basket, then some other lovely looking Pacific Giants: Cameliard, Blue Jay, Blue Bird, King Arthur, and Summer Skies.
Imagining a swathe of delphiniums gently swaying in the breeze, I germinated the seeds by chitting them in the fridge sealed in bags with some just-damp paper towels. Meanwhile: to the Internet! to read about my lovely seeds while waiting for them to germinate.
That search uncovered something unsettling; Pacific Giants are supposedly not what they once were. The strains, so they say, have become "a shadow of what they once were". My poor seedlings, dissed before they've even germinated.
I joined the Delphinium Society (DS) to get my hands on their precious Elatum Hybrid hand-pollinated seeds. While waiting for them to arrive, I read some more about Delphinium Society seeds and discovered Dowdeswell Delphiniums of New Zealand. Starting from Delphinium Society seeds, Dowdeswell set out to create better seed-raised strains of delphiniums. Turns out the seed can be ordered direct from New Zealand! Hello there, cobalt dreams, sunny skies, black eyed angels, purple passion, pagan purples and blue lace.
Of course, I now had an appetite to see some of the famous AGM delphiniums listed by the Delphinium Society. There are a couple of sites listed in Yorkshire as good places to see them. The DS had even donated delphiniums to the refurbished delphinium beds in the walled garden at Castle Howard. Seems that 2018 was a really bad year for Delphiniums leading to the demise of many. By July 2019 there were only 3 on display at Castle Howard. At a nursery 40 minutes up the A1: perhaps half a dozen. Temple Newsam still holds a National Collection, but they moved their delphiniums from the dedicated bed (google for pictures of it, it was beautiful), into the mixed herbaceous borders in the walled garden, and they were rather struggling, and less impressive dotted about. There were perhaps 12-15 to be seen in June.
If I wanted to see the elite delphiniums growing at their best, without the train fair to London or Wisley, I'd have to get hold of them myself. A fine excuse. So, now there's another 9 young delphiniums; Pandora, Blue Lagoon, Jill Curley, Pericles, Amadeus, Nobility (powdery mildew already!), Strawberry Fair, Purple Velvet and Faust (this latter bought in bloom from the garden centre).
Now I've got dozens of seedlings, young plants, and flowering-size plants (from the early Pacific Giants sowing). At least I'll be able to compare them. Do the Pacific Giants deserve to be shunned? Will I fall in love with Dowdeswell's Delphs? Will I be awed by the English style hybrid elatums? I should keep some records. And breed my own of course.
Black Knight (pacific giants) sown Jan/Feb 2019
July 2019The first one has oddly, but not unappealing hairy flower buds. They are less well filled than my first Black Knight, but they are still currently in 2 or 3L pots and it's their first year. So, maybe they will fill out. Flowers are a single or semi-double. The colour is an intense dark blue in shade and a dark purple in full sunshine.
Blue Jay (pacific giants) Sown Jan/Feb 2019
Two different plants of Blue Jay, pictures 1 and 2 are the same plant in different lighting, the first picture best represents the colour in sunlight. The first plant seems to have well filled spikes, the other has much wider spacing between the flowers. I don't know whether this will persist in next year when the plant is more mature. It's an intense mid-blue double flowers with hints of lavender purple.