This is one of the old fashioned annuals not often seen in today’s gardens. It is Rocket Larkspur -Delphinium ajacis-, and in the South it blooms in spring and gives us the happy illusion that we in Middle Tennessee can grow delphiniums.
But not for long, for it fades and dies in summer, and anyone who plants it must have a plan to replace it with something that has a longer season. (It is then that we find the true delphiniums of the South, which are Salvias.)
Once when I went on a tour sponsored by Nashville’s Perennial Plant Society, I visited the garden of a wealthy socialite. Her gardener had dropped pots of perennial delphiniums into empty spaces in her border. They would not bloom for long, nor would they live for long in our tropical heat. This past spring Kroger was selling some of the shorter delphiniums on the sidewalk outside the Bellevue store. They were a magnet for the innocent and the unwary who may now tell their neighbors”I can;t grow anything. Every thing I put in dies.”
In spring,however, one can find larkspur seed in any good garden center. The trick then is to bring it home, put it in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. Then, in November, after a few hard freezes, you broadcast sow it into your garden.
This takes planning. Planning is a good thing for gardens, and it is as important as planting.
And when your larkspur is through, there will be awkward empty spaces, but you will not worry about those, for you will fill them with mealy cup sage or Salvia coccinea or Salvia “Indigo Spires”. And then you will have blue and pink spikes of flowers until November.
When you will toss out the larkspur seeds again.
*Two weeks ago I tossed out larkspur seeds in the West Meade garden I work in. Now, I wait for spring.