Many of us remember larkspur growing in our Grandparents gardens, they are truly an old fashioned favourite that for some reason went out of fashion in the 80’s and 90’s. Well now it’s back…well…it is in the Higgledy garden at least.
Our friend the Larkspur is a member of the Delphinium family, named by the Greeks because it resembled a dolphin’s snoz. They have been reclassified as ‘consolida’ which effectively means, ‘we don’t know where to file it’…it’s latin for undetermined. I rather like that….little renegade.
They come in a variety of colours and heights. I find them most useful because if we plant them in Autumn then they will give a really early show in Spring when most other flowers are a few weeks away.
Larkspurs are poisonous to cows…just so you know…just in case you have a cow wandering around your flower beds.
How to grow Larkspur.
To get the best results I have found sowing them in rows that are a foot apart and thin them out to a foot apart within these rows. If you haven’t sown them in the Autumn then sow them after the last frosts have wobbled off up north.
It is said that Larkspur are easy to grow but I’ve found them hit and miss, much depends on your soil and position etc. They like full sun but will handle a bit of shade without too much grumbling. I add plenty of organic matter into the beds before sowing and you MUST make sure they are kept moist whilst they become established.
I have also found it is worth while staking the taller varieties otherwise they throw themselves to the soil in a girlie tantrum in the slightest of storms.
Larkspur don’t like to be transplanted but can be sown in two or three week successions with favourable results.
In the garden these give a brilliant ‘cottage’ display which will have your neighbours chanting your name and doing a little dance on the village green. In the vase it will offer a height and elegance that very few annuals can offer.
I sowed some yesterday. (24th August) which may be a fraction early but we are due lots of rain so it will save me a job watering. I will keep you updated of it’s progress throughout it’s flowery little life and come the spring…(look into my eyes) you will have the uncontrollable urge to buy some off me.
…meanwhile here’s a pic of an empty bed…the seeds are in it…honestly.
Larkspur get’s it’s common name because it resembles the spur, or claw of the Lark…though I imagine our ancestors were on the ale and mouldy grain when they coined that name.
In days of old when everything was spooky and better, larkspur was used to ward off witches. Though the three rows in my garden don’t stop that cantankerous old bat next door complaining about my dog barking…when I haven’t even got a bl^^dy dog.
Larkspur is happy to reseed…wonderfully through decay and wind and rain and gravity, the tall stems eventually touch the earth and the circle is complete, the seeds reach the earth and the whole schbang goes around again. Happy days.
Where can I buy Larkspur seeds?
I think the best larkspur seeds you can get for cutting are Larspur Giant Imperials…see these in the Higgledy Garden Shop. :)
Let us know how you get on.
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August 26, 2011 @ 7:21 am
I remember these from my childhood. I also know some ‘cows’ who frequent flowerbeds ;) I’ve decided I want more cutting flowers next year so I’m planning a bed and I might just be tempted to try Larkspur. I like flowers with a story. Then again, given their waywardness i might just have them in an unruly border.
August 26, 2011 @ 8:05 am
Let them rock out for the free world!
August 25, 2011 @ 5:30 pm
I’ve never grown larkspur or tithonia, but you make it all sound so easy so think I will give them both a go, especially as I now have a cutting garden with a few gaps in it (some of my flowers sown as seed didn’t come up). Obviously the tithonia will have to wait till next spring, but I have some larkspur seeds that came free from Amateur Gardening, so if they don’t come up, I won’t have lost anything and can try again next year. Do you save any seeds to resow?
August 26, 2011 @ 8:07 am
Funny you should say that Jan…I was thinking about that yesterday…I’ve ben saving calendula seeds from my fav plants….I’m thinking I might learn how to save seed from as many as poss….not that seed really costs that much….compared to the fuel costs I have driving to the field…grrrrrrr
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