Delphiniums, family and fun

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.



Frosty Mornings

Another frosty morning in Wanganui, that's four in succession, with beautiful, sunny and unusually warm days to follow.

While the staff are on holiday this week I'm having a good look around the nursery in the quiet and catching up on a few odd jobs....after the frost has gone of course. And while I'm waiting there are seed orders to get out.

But the frost soon goes so I have to too.



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Clean up time in the Nursery

We've had a few mornings of hard frosts followed by warm days so today I sprayed the weeds on our delphinium trial grounds and spent some time inspecting the potted plants on the holding pad for growth. These plants are mostly dormant now(see image with small pots below..not the still green plants in the seedling trays) but the weed seedlings are not so I will spray them off and put a pre-merge weed killer on to keep new weeds from germinating until the delphinium plants are filling the pots and ready to ship out - so the theory goes. Hopefully I'll have enough time to do that tomorrow. We''ll see.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Help in the Garden

Like delphiniums in New Zealand, orchard trees don't get a lot of rest either.

It is now getting on for Mid July (equivalent northern hemisphere January) and the last leaves have only just left the apple trees. They in their turn only beat the plums, peaches and nectarines by a couple of weeks or so. I know, I've been waiting for them to fall so I can get on with pruning, which I started a few days ago.

Yesterday and again today I had the help of a really enthusiastic granddaughter Jessica (age 5 1/2). So far she is the only one of my natural offspring to show even the faintest interest in gardening. Our adopted daughter Nadeeka, who recently started an organic garden on her section in Cherrybrook, Sydney, much to my considerable delight, is still ahead on points though, but only just. Watch out Nadeeka! Jessica is coming!

As can be seen from the images, Jessica's help was indeed both real and very useful. She clipped branches, helped me saw large branches off and painted the wounds on the pruned branches. She then helped cart the prunings off.

Of course, to do the job properly you have to be dressed right. The fancy shirt is one of my work shirts. A really big thank you Jessica!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Winter here. Spring here too!

ne of the great things about growing delphiniums in New Zealand is that by the time they die back for winter they are ready to shoot up again for spring.

In the nursery last season's plants are looking quite dormant but the seedlings sown in April are potted up and powering into spring. Also, close inspection of last season's apparent dormant plants outside reveals tiny new leaves starting to break from the crowns too.

We are now past the shortest day by over two weeks and sunset is 10 minutes later than June 21st. Cool! I swear the quality of light is different too and I'm loving being out in it, pruning our fruit trees.

Tomorrow is Saturday and we will take our granddaughters out for morning tea at a garden centre, maybe bring my mother home for lunch (or include her in the morning tea) have our kids arrive (parents of our grandchildren come to collect them after a week) and enjoy what promises to be a sunny day.

Gotta get the winter oil on the fruit trees.



Wednesday, July 7, 2010

School Holidays

We are looking after our grandchildren thisweekand today Janice and I took them to Kowhai Park which is simply the best kids playground in the country with lots of lovingly made items for children to play on and climb over.

We also walked to the top of the tower on Durrie Hill and took this image.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Delphinium Trial

Towards the end of May we had a few trials of crosses for short varieties begin to flower. These have since died down for winter but below is one that shows much promise as this, the first flowering was very fast from seed and already there is new growth beginning to come from the base.
It will be interesting to see how well it regrows in a few weeks time.

Mid Winter Christmas and other madness

Last Thursday night Janice and I, Robert and Jeniffer and a few others went to the Waverley Aotea Rotary Changeover function. Janice as a Christmas Tree and me as an elf.

The weekend before it was our own club's annual change of officers night too. Here are Robert and Jennifer, Janice and I being Bigger, Better, Bolder and Blue.....Bugger!