Delphiniums Down Under

Delphiniums, family and fun

Friday, December 10, 2010

Breeding Season

Yahoo! the delphinium seed trials have begun to flower and it looks like we are in for a very exciting season.

First up are some trials for shorter flowering delphiniums. For height reference bear in mind that I'm all of 5'5" tall. In shoes.

I'm really pleased with these as we have several colours showing good compact and even growth. All without any growth regulators

And a view along the house

Contrast these with some cut flower trials where the delph are taller

Then there are the general trials outside which are just begging to flower. Here we have a good contrast between the tall and the short.

Heres a very deep pink we are using, catching the morning sun.

All in all a good start

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spring in the Nursery

Right, the nursery and nursery business is what's been keeping me from working in the garden as much as I'd like but boy, is there a lot to do in the nursery. Growth is very fast right now and plants are racing out. Here's Debbie and Edita doing the job.

But we have another job too. When we built our new growing house in 2007/8 I put white weed matting on the floor to reflect light. This weed matting was laid over black weed matting which in turn was laid over something we call crushed shell rock (hard stuff). We did this because it worked so well in the old house when installed a few years before. Well it worked well in the new house too, until it began to break down last summer. It turned out that the manufacturer had neglected to put the UV treatment into this batch. The suppliers in New Zealand replaced the material but we have, of course, had to lay it again.

To lay the weed matting we had to first remove corrugated iron troughs that we stand our plants on and then remove the old matting - above. This done the installation was be a piece of cake, or would have been but for the support posts for the wire netting that in turn supports the delphiniums. Argh, all those posts!

The posts were hammered into the shell rock (hard stuff, remember) after the original matting was laid. Well, there was no way I was going to remove those so we had to work round them and fortunately modern sealing materials have made a reasonably tidy job possible. It all took time but is now three quarters complete.

And a quarter to go.

This week will be the big plant send  out. These plants are just about ready to go. We try to make most of our sales while the plants are small because that is by far the best time for planting. Unfortunately many gardeners like to see them in flower before they buy. We leave that market to someone else!

And below are some plugs waiting for planting in the trial grounds. Each year we plant five to ten thousand plants for evaluation and breeding purposes.

 The trial grounds are not quite ready yet though. The ground is tilled and we're simply waiting for dry weather to cap it with compost which we will plant directly into, then mulch with wood shavings.

And here are some of  last season's trial beds waiting for new plants. The plants in the foreground are daylilies

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


It is clearly spring now. These delphiniums will soon be jumping out of the pots, which is just as well as we're scheduled to begin shipping them to our mail order plant customers next week.

And the new season's plugs are going crazy too:

And the early planted pots as well!

But while its spring in Wanganui its Fall in Colorado, and what a sight our delphiniums make in Ruda's garden

Sunday, July 25, 2010

More Time in the Garden

Janice had a quilting workshop this weekend so I took the opportunity to attack the garden again.
The hard frosts last weekend dealt to a lot of plants that normally over-winter well and I was particularly disappointed to see the thumbergia (Black-Eyed-Susan) completely collapsed, having only planted it a few months ago. It was doing very nicely too. Likewise a poinsettia that I finally got around to planting just a few weeks ago received similar treatment. Both plants were protected by trees but unfortunately the air temperature fell to -2C so that was that.
We only have killing frosts every several years so we get away with growing many tender plants. I just chose the wrong year to get them established.
Some things are growing though. Like these sweet peas:

Of course there is an good side to frosts as soft weeds and nasturtiums (that were rampant)  get zapped too. So do some of the lazier insect pests. Perhaps we'll have fewer paper wasps this summer. I doubt if I've ever seen the gardens looking so bare and it sure makes tidying up easy. Frosted nasturtiums make good mulch too!
Talking of paper wasps, a considerable number had buried themselves beneath the bark of some dry eucalyptus logs that I had piled up for firewood this winter. I had taken to bringing the wood inside and stacking it close to the fire so that it was nice and handy but quickly had to revise the plan as the wasps were thawing out and having a go at the kind people who had warmed them up. That's fixed now. I leave the wood in the cold porch until it's time to stoke the fire. No more wasps. No more stings.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Delphiniums will reflower again, again and again

As a breeder of delphiniums and producer of seed I often receive mail either directly or via mail lists, groups etc; from people wanting advice on aspects of growing these wonderful flowers. By way of making this blog a little more interesting, perhaps helping a few folk out and (no doubt at all) causing a little controversy from time to time, I will post some of this advice herein. If you disagree I invite you to post a comment about it. Disagreement promotes discovery!

And yes, I do grow delphiniums in my garden.

And no, you can't see any right now.

The last rose

There have been a couple of questions in the past few days about how to get delphiniums to flower a second time in the season. I referred to this briefly on our Dowdeswell's Delphiniums Facebook page and am posting a fuller comment below:

The Question

ok so now that my delphiniums are done blooming and have seedpods on them should i cut  them down to a couple inches above soil level to let them regrow and bloom again in the fall
should i fertilize them with dried cow poop also to get them growing again
any advice would be helpful.

Just a lonely little mammilaria in an alyssum patch

The Answer

The most reliable way to get a second flowering from you delphiniums, provided you are not bothered about saving seed, is to cut them back early, say just after the best of the flowering is passed. The key is to get more light into the base of the plant and to remove the older stalks and leaves which are taking energy from new growth (rather than sustaining it). This is fully understood by delphinium cut flower growers who cut the stems right back to the ground as they harvest the half open flower spikes. It really works.

Another good thing you can do is to commence feeding again as the flowers pass their best. This also promotes new growth. The combination of extra feed and more light boosts the growth of new stems tremendously. I strongly suggest feeding well and cutting right down to the ground asap.

Naturally, where you are in the world also influences how many flushes of flower spikes your beautiful delphiniums will produce for you. Here in New Zealand I can confidently expect three flushes if I use the method outline above.

You will find much more information on growing delphiniums here

Why not become a follower of our Facebook page about delphiniums?

Yes, Alcea in mid-winter

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gumboot and petals

It's been a great week or so with plenty done in the garden and a good amount of real work done too.

One of the most interesting things for me was seeing how the trials we are conducting to test our breeding for short delphiniums are looking. These trials were planted in the autumn. It is unusual for autumn planted delphiniums to flower during the winter but that is what a number of them are doing, showing that as well as being likely to be very short (judging by growth so far with one flowering at under 30cm tall) they are also likely to be very fast from seed to flower. This is very encouraging as the market for these plants will demand both of those criteria. We hope to have a range of good cultivars for pot production by the end of this summer.
The image above shows two short delphiniums from the same cross. The image below shows the same short delphinium with a taller one (test for cut flowers - yet to flower) in the background left. The gumboot is 29cm tall.

We have more trials than usual under-way this coming season so will have some really interesting looking fields of delphiniums this summer. We're looking for the short delphiniums mentioned and also to trials of several cut flower varieties too as well as more varieties for the home garden. There is one other category of delphinium attributes we are testing but we're saying nothing about that until we have something really special to announce....or not.

Watch this space over summer!



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Facebook for Dowdeswell"s Delphiniums

Janice has constructed a Facebook identity for our Dowdeswell's Delphiniums business and we're in the process of attracting followers. The page will be a place where we can showcase our delphiniums, offer seasonally timed growing tips etc. and keep in touch with our customers and friends.

Come and join the fun. Click on "like" beside our name on the Facebook page to become a follower.