Delphinium ‘Pacific Giants’ is a old distinguished variety that produces strong spikes of semi-double blooms in a dreamy blend of colours. They are clump forming perennials, with fleshy crowns and tall spikes of closely grouped cup shaped flowers with prominent eyes (or bees). Their palmate and lobed leaves are usually below the spikes.
They are excellent for cutting, ideal as feature plants, they add structure and presence to the back of any perennial border or cottage garden. Bring a touch of nostalgia back to the garden, they are worth almost any effort to grow because they are so beautiful.
The ‘Round Table’ strain is an advance so far as colour is concerned, for apart from the many blue shades, there are purples, pinks, lilacs and whites, many with a dark central ‘bee’. The Round Table series contains nine colours, and a mix each with a cultivar name relevant to Camelot.
Astolat is a rare and unusual delphinium colour; it blooms with spires of soft blush to deep rose-pink flowers. It is a stunning delphinium that looks gorgeous planted in bold clumps for a dramatic statement.
The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is the most powerful and enduring in the western world. King Arthur, Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot did not really exist, but their names conjure up a romantic image of gallant knights in shining armour, elegant ladies in medieval castles, heroic quests for the Holy Grail in a world of honour and romance, and the court of Camelot at the centre of a royal and mystical Britain.
Astolat is a legendary city of Great Britain named in Arthurian legends. It is the home of Elaine, "the fair maiden of Astolat", daughter of King Pelles. The city is called Shallott in many cultural references, derived from Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "The Lady of Shallott". It is also named Ascolat in the Winchester Manuscript and Escalot in the French Arthurian romances.
Elaine of Astolat, was deeply in love with Lancelot, one of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. Elaine has captured the minds of many artists, becoming one of the most recognisable tertiary characters from the Arthurian legends.
Most famous from Lord Tennyson’s poetry she is a representation of unrequited love as Lancelot is in love with another, Queen Guinevere. Sadly Elaine of Astolat dies of grief and heartbreak that her love is not returned from Lancelot and is placed on barge to sail towards Camelot.
Sowing: Sow seeds in January to July or sow in September to October.
January to May is the best time for sowing, the early you sow the better chance of planting out in summer. Use a clean tray or pot with a good quality peat based seed compost. Lightly firm the compost. Scatter the seed lightly on the surface. Cover the seed with a thin layer of vermiculite. Water in lightly. Keep in a place with a temperature of 15 to 18°C (60 to 70°F), a propagator with bottom heat is ideal. Alternatively cover the pot with a plastic bag and turn the bag inside out every 3 days to prevent excessive condensation. Place on the windowsill out of direct sunlight. Keep on the dry side and seed should germinate after 15 to 21 days. Remove from the propagator or plastic bag once germination has occurred.
When seeds are big enough to handle, generally around four weeks after sowing, transplant into a small cell tray with a peat based compost. Water carefully. Once big enough pot into a 9cm (4in) pot with a peat based compost. Liquid feed as required. Harden off and plant out from May until July.
If you have sown your seed late then grow your plant on in pots until it goes into winter dormancy. Keep dry and frost free in a garage, greenhouse or a porch over winter. Once green shoots appear water your plant and keep in a well lit, frost free area ready for planting out in May.
Before planting out your young plant choose a site which is not waterlogged during the winter, sheltered from strong winds and which receives plenty of sunshine.
Water your plant well and soak the rootball in a bucket of water. Prepare the ground thoroughly by incorporating organic matter or compost as delphiniums enjoy rich soils. Small plants are best planted in the summer months.
Give your plant plenty of space as a fully mature plant will easily fill a 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) space and delphiniums are best not crowded in the border. Plant at the correct depth so that the compost is level with soil. Firm the plant in securely so that the roots can establish quickly. Water in well and try not water the leaves if possible. Delphiniums grow in most soils but need plenty of food and moisture to perform well so make sure you water regularly until the plant is established and feed this plant heavily, every season.
Stake plants when planting. Do not leave it for another day. That is not an option. The gardener that ignores this step will be heartbroken. The stems of the Delphinium will be broken, as well.
Staking is necessary on a windy site and with larger varieties. It is best to start when plants are still small and use a square or triangle of 120cm (4ft) canes close to the plant and tied together with twine. Place the canes 30cm (1ft) in the ground taking care not to damage the crown or the roots of the plant. This allows the spikes some movement. Twigs can also be used successfully and are less obtrusive. Start tying the plant at about 15cm (6in) with the final tie just below the florets. Tie firmly but not too tightly and always allow the plant some movement so that spikes do not snap in the wind.
Delphiniums usually flower May to July but young plants often have their first flowering in late summer after their roots have established. After flowering, if seeds are not required, cut the spike down to the level of the foliage. This stops the plant setting seed and directs its energy to the roots. In later years the fewer the spikes the better the flowers will be. The plants look their best by the second year and needs dividing by year three to assure propagation.
Protect from slugs and snails at all times.
Once the foliage has died back in the autumn stems can be cut down to ground level and all staking removed. On wet soils particularly slugs and snails will over winter near plants and eat the fresh shoots as they appear. These must be controlled with slug pellets or a range of other methods.
New growth should appear in spring and as soon as this appears plants can be fed with a good balanced compound fertiliser such as blood fish and bone meal.
Apart from protecting your plant from slugs and snails, pay good attention to glasshouse hygiene, using only fresh trays, pots, compost, water and clean bench tops to avoid damping-off diseases
Mildew (a grey mould on the foliage or flowers) can cause concern in humid weather when plants dry out. To guard against this you can make sure your plant does not get too dry and spray with a fungicide early in the season, as per manufacturer’s instructions.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Cut Flowers and Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds, Prairie Planting, Wildflower Gardens or Wildlife Gardens.
Note: All parts of delphinium are poisonous and may cause discomfort if eaten and the foliage can irritate the skin.
The Delphinium is a member of the Ranuculaceae family which contains almost 300 species of annual, biennial or perennial delphiniums. The plants are native to the Northern Hemisphere and some high mountainous regions of tropical Africa and are grown for their spikes or racemes of cup shaped flowers.
Today's Delphiniums are mostly hybrids developed from the early 1800's from the species Delphinium elatum, Delphinium grandiflorum, Delphinium exaltatum, and Delphinium formosum.
Delphinium is taken from the the Greek word delphinion, derived from delphinos or delphis for "dolphin" thought to be so named because of the similarity of the opening flower to the sea mammal.
In Tudor England some of the species grown were referred to as Larkspur and occasionally Lark's Heel (from Shakespeare), Lark's Claw, and Knight's Spur, apparently because the nectar sepal looked somewhat akin to a lark's claw. The common name Larkspur also applies to a similar looking but different plant called Consolida ajacis.
Delphinium x cultorum was formerly known as Delphinium elatum, the species name 'elatium' means 'taller, loftier or more exalted' while 'cultorum' means 'of gardens' or ‘cultivated’.
It is commonly known as the Candle Delphinium because of the shape of the blooms, or the Bee Delphinium, as many flowers have white or black centers known as "bees."
The history of the cultivated Delphiniums is extremely complex. As early as 1778, D. elatum and another form, listed as D. azureum were offered in the trade, and at least by 1824 D. two varieties of D.grandiflorum were offered.
Other species were rapidly introduced and by the middle of the century hybridisation was being carried on by a number of French growers, chief among whom was Victor Lemoine, originator of most of the first varieties of perennial garden Delphiniums.
English plantsmen were somewhat later in the field, but particularly since the 1870's, when the first varieties of James Kelway were introduced, a large part of the development of new hybrids has been carried out in Britain.
As nearly as can be ascertained, most of the present forms were derived from relatively few species. D. grandiflorum and D. elatum have chiefly been involved, although hybrids with other species, including D. tatsienense Franch. (Lemoine,1914), D. cardinale Hook. (Wilde, 1931), and D. nudicaule Torr. and Gray (Lawrence, 1936) have enjoyed some popularity.
Delphinium breeding occurred mainly in England (the famous Blackmore & Langdon selections), but in California, back in the 1950's and 60's The Pacific Giants series were developed. As relatively stable seed strains they became an instant industry standard.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 100mg Average Seed Count 50 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 500 seeds per gram Family Ranunculaceae Genus Delphinium Species x cultorum Cultivar Astolat Synonym Delphinium hybridum Common Name formerly known as Delphinium elatum Other Common Names Bee Larkspur, Candle Delphinium Other Language Names Pacific Giants, Les Dauphinelles ''Géants du Pacifique'' Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Pink shades, dark bee. Natural Flower Time June to September Height 150cm (60in) Spread 45cm (18in) Position Full sun preferred although they will grow in part shade. Soil Fertile, well-drained soil Time to Sow January to July or September to October. Germination 15 to 21 days at 15 to 18°C (60 to 70°F),