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Delphiniums and Cosmos Run Wild!

Posted Aug 21 2009 11:43am

In the spring I posted about the beautiful delphiniums available from Dowdeswell Delphiniums in New Zealand. I used their pictures with permission, and after reading the post they sent me a free packet of their 'Pagan Purples' delphiniums. Woo-Hoo: that's the only free anything I've ever received from blogging!

I diligently started the seeds and had MUCH MORE success than the year before, when my faulty seed starting methods yielded a little over a dozen plants per seed packet. I ended up with 47 baby delphiniums . . . oh, dear, what would I do with them all? I gave a bunch away, and crammed the rest into any spare soil in my sunny backyard holding area.

In my climate, delphiniums bloom first in June, then you cut them back to the ground and they'll bloom again in September. None of mine are growing in full sun, so they tend to get more floppy and most need staking to stay upright. The plant in the photo above will probably need staking next year when it grows taller and wider.

You can see in the photo above that the delphs put on a great show this year ('Green Twist' is the white delph in the background). What you can't see in the photo is all the dead leaves at the base of the plants that were caused by overcrowding. And this was before the cosmos really took off . . .

This year my garden has also been a victim of my success starting cosmos seeds, in this case, Rose Bonbon Double Click cosmos. They're fancier than other cosmos, with extra rows of petals that make them look like roses.

I only had about 15 cosmos seeds germinate, but by that time my garden was already crammed full of delphiniums. The seed packet said they'd grow to 4 feet tall by 2 feet wide, but I didn't really believe it. I'm used to crowding slow-starting perennials into beds, then transplanting in a few years when they fill in, so I forgot that annuals like cosmos reach full size in a season. Or maybe I didn't forget, I just ignored reason and shoved them into every last gap in the soil.

So you can see that the cosmos have reached their full stature - maybe even a little more, despite overcrowding. This picture doesn't show the young english rose bushes languishing below the cosmos shade, and it doesn't show the oriental lilies that have been consumed by cosmos foliage (they're in there somewhere, I can smell them). Last night I finally went nuts and dug up a bunch of delphs and cosmos. The cosmos got tossed, and the delphs were plunked into pots while I try to figure out which local friends have a good spot for delphs and might like my castaways.

So what is the moral of this story? When starting seeds, hope for mediocrity but plan for resounding success, just in case? Sharing makes the world a better place, and your garden less crowded? Pots are good in desparate times?

Anyway, the fun side to all this excessive growing success has been all the arrangements made from the delphs and cosmos, which look especially perky with some golden coreopsis mixed in. The photo above shows a simple vaseful of flowers put together by my daughter, who is on track to become a great gardener and florist someday. And she'll have fun making her own mistakes and learning from them.
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