Scottish Daily Mail


Bright, lofty delphinium­s will spice up your borders


WE SHOULD grow more delphinium­s. Years ago, you’d see these magnificen­t 6ft spikes in almost every front garden. They were always ramrodstra­ight, packed with flowers and came in every shade of blue from pearly aquamarine to intense sapphire. Delphinium­s are far too pretty to shove on the back burner just because fashion has changed. They’re brilliant for small gardens, and compact varieties look lovely in pots on the patio.

For a mixed border or bedded in semi-formal groups, choose non-branching Elata types for their tall spikes.

In more naturalist­ic planting schemes, go f or Belladonna varieties. These repeat flower, often during autumn, and have a more relaxed, branching habit.

There’s still time to plant them — but hurry. You’ll find a selection online or in garden centres. Go for the youngest specimens with the best roots, rather than those i n full flower, and plant the moment you get them home as perennials hate languishin­g in pots during summer.


DELPHINIUM­S are not hard to grow, given reasonably fertile soil that drains freely.

They’re hungry plants, so if you improve your soil with rotted manure or home-made compost they’ll grow taller, with fatter flower spikes. Back in the Sixties, my father became obsessed with his delphinium­s. He wanted them to be taller than he was, so he dosed them with fishmeal until they looked as if they were on steroids.

I’m less bothered about size, but want mine to produce lots of flowers over a long season. That’s achieved with a light spring feed and a good compost mulch.

Delphinium­s make terrific patio plants as long as you have a sheltered, sunny spot. The stems, though tough, can kink or break in a strong wind and will need support: canes and soft jute string or stouter stakes for the tallest varieties.

Slugs are the delphinium lover’s bane and plants are vulnerable at their early stages, in April and May. However mollusc-free your garden, you’ll need to take precaution­s. Nematodes are effective, but you can also use organic slug pellets.

Another scourge is mildew. This appears as greyish spots on the l ower l eaves and gradually spreads up the stems, weakening the plants. Prevent it by keeping your plants well watered and mulched and by not planting them too close together.

Fungicide sprays such as difenocona­zole can help, too, but prevention is better.


IF YOU’D like to grow delphinium­s but lack space, try them in big pots or half-tubs. The so-called dwarf varieties are excellent — but be aware that even these grow quite tall.

Suttons ( sell Magic Fountains — the perfect height, at just under 3ft for patio pots.

You can buy lavender or dark blue plants, but seeds f or flowering next year are available in eight different shades.

If you prefer full-height varieties, Pacific Giants come in lovely colours from pure white through to mauve and shades of blue from sky to navy.

Thompson & Morgan ( thompsonmo­ has plug plants at £5.99 for six.

And if you want exciting new varieties, they are advertisin­g Rising Stars f or £ 9. 99 f or four plugs.

A good alternativ­e is to buy from specialist growers. Blackmore & Langdon’s ( blackmorel­ has gorgeous plants in every shade of blue and other colours as well.

The company has been growing delphinium­s since 1901 and has won more t han 80 Royal Horticultu­ral Society gold medals.

 ??  ?? Garden giants: Delphinium­s bring height, colour and drama to borders or patio pots
Garden giants: Delphinium­s bring height, colour and drama to borders or patio pots
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