One of the most dramatic flowers of the early summer border is the lovely delphinium. While the rose has always been the ‘Queen of the Garden’, delphiniums quite rightly have the accolade of ‘Queen of the Border’.
The delphinium belongs to the buttercup family and from its wild ancestry, many hybrids have been cultivated for our gardens with two varieties, the Elatum and Belladonna being the most popular.
Theatrical in statue they make a stately impact with their showy spikes of colourful blooms and command a real presence in the back of our borders. While there are many colours such as white, pink and deep purple, it really is the blue varieties, ranging from the palest shade to the deepest royal blue that are the real charmers of this flower.
Yes, they are quite quite beautiful and yes they have their downside. They are very demanding and need much care and attention so do not take lightly if you want to grow them. Best grown in a group, they prefer a sunny site. Although they sulk if it is too hot, and so will tolerate dappled shade. You will also need to protect them from strong winds and they will flatly refuse to grow in clay soils as they crave moist loamy conditions. See how difficult they are? Want sun, but not too hot. Want sun but not too dry. Want shade but not too much. And that is not all. Delphiniums are also fervent feeders.
Protect against slugs and snails
In late spring top dress with manure and as soon as they begin to grow, feed them with a liquid fertiliser once week. If the leaves are pale and yellow you are not feeding them enough. The blooms are top heavy so need supporting. Once they are they about a foot high, stake them. Then there are the slugs and snails! You need to protect them as soon as their heads pop above ground level. If you do not like using slug pellets place cinders from your fire around the stems or a jam jar filled with beer. Despite the tender stalks of delphiniums, they prefer beer.
Demanding? Most definitely! Beautifully breathtaking? Most definitely! Worth every minute spent on raising them? Most definitely!