This stately perennial has white, pink, blue, or purple flower buds that ancient Greeks called delphis or dolphin. They thought the flower buds resemble Flipper. We know theses plants as delphiniums.
This classic English cottage garden perennial makes a great backdrop in any flower garden. The tall, modern hybrids that we're most familiar with were developed by the English. I still remember going to the Chelsea Flower Show and being wowed by the massive display of colorful delphiniums.
In the garden, these Delphinium elatum types grow up to six feet tall with densely packed single or double flowers. Newer varieties from New Zealand, such as the New Millennium Series, feature longer lived plants, thicker flower stalks and better resistance to heat and humidity.
Shorter delphinium varieties are becoming more popular for their versatility. Diamonds Blue, Blue Butterflies, and Magic Fountains only grow one to two feet tall. These look great mixed with roses, salvia, and other early summer bloomers in the garden.
Delphiniums like full sun and moist, rich, slightly alkaline soil so mix a little lime into acidic soil. The flower stalks are hollow and very susceptible to breaking during windy days. So plant them in a protected spot out of the wind and group them together to support each other or support them with stakes, cages or plant rings.
Delphiniums make nice cut flowers. Recut the hollow stems underwater indoors for them to last longer in the vase. Also, if you cut back the flower stalks immediately after blooming, you may get a second flush of blooms later in summer.
Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about peaches. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.