[From a Greek word signifying a dolphin, on account of the resemblance be tween the shape of the flower and the imaginary figures of the dolphin.]
The French call it Pied d' alouette,-which is the same as the English, Larkspur, and it is also called Lark's-claws, Lark's-heel, on account of the spur shape projection at the back of the flower. The species are showy annuals or perennials, valuable as border-flowers. The leaves are much divided, and the flowers in terminal spikes, blue, purple, white or red; never yellow, or any shade of that color.
There are many species and varieties of the perennial Larkspur, which are indispensable in a collection of plants; all hardy and easily propagated from seed, or by dividing the roots of some of the double varieties which produce no seed. The brilliancy of the blue color of some of the flowers cannot be surpassed.
This is one of the most magnificent of herbaceous plants. It can be propagated only by dividing the roots, as it does not produce seed; it is perfectly hardy, enduring the coldest weather without protection; it is best to give a little, however, as it will flower stronger for it. The flowers, are of a most beautiful lively blue, in long open spikes, upon graceful, slender, purplish stems, three feet high. From June to October it displays its beauty, and is indispensable in the formation of a perfect bouquet. Foliage palmate, many parted.
So called on account of the hairy petals, in the centre of the flower, having a fancied resemblance to a bee.
This species, from its height, which is from five to seven feet, is well adapted to the shrubbery; its long, clustered spike of fine blue flowers making a fine appearance in that department. It is also suitable for the border, but should be planted at the greatest distance from the walk. Leaves downy, five-lobed; lobes wedge shape at the base, trifid cut. Propagated by seed or divisions of the roots.
The plant is covered with soft green down. It sports into many varieties, from pale-blue to dark, sometimes to blue with a white centre, which is very beautiful.
A garden variety, apparently intermediate between the Great-flowered and Bee Larkspur. It sends up a stem from three to five feet, high, much branched at the top, covered in June and July with innumerable dark-blue flowers, partaking somewhat of the character of the Bee Larkspur. Propagated by divisions of the root.
One of the most showy of the genus, sporting into many varieties. Its height is from two to three feet, and continues from June to October to give a succession of flowers, which are large, of a fine light or dark-blue, purple and white, and often spotted or shaded on each petal with copper color on the dark varieties, or with green on the white. Leaves palmate, (hand-shaped,) many parted. It is propagated by dividing the roots in the spring, about the time it begins to vegetate; or it may be divided with success in August. By sowing the seed, new varieties may be expected, which," planted early, will flower feebly and show the character of the flower in autumn. Nothing is more pleasant, than to originate a new variety. It must not be supposed, however, that there will be much chance of any improvement in more than one or two in a hundred plants. It has flourished with me in a great variety of soils. It will, in fact, grow anywhere without difficulty, only requiring to be divided every few years, when the roots become large. This species is a native of Siberia. A seedling of this species was raised by the late Wm. E. Carter, of the Botanic garden, which was named in honor of him D. Carr-terii, and is now in my possession. The flowers are double, sky-blue, a very fine variety. I wish I could say the same of my much admired seedling D. Breckii, which I fear is lost. It was perfectly hardy for many years, and at one time I had a large stock of it; it was also extensively disseminated, but now I fear, it is numbered among the things that were, as mine are all lost, and all in my neigh-' borhood have died also. Formerly I had large stools of it and planted it in masses, producing flowers of a dazzling' blue color. There was no blue flower that produced so' brilliant an effect. It was more dwarfish than D. Sinensis, growing about two feet high, the stems not so flexible, and color much finer; the flowers being double, I could never obtain seed. Another seedling, called Breck's No. 2, color purplish blue, with semi-double flowers and inferior to No. 1,1 did not care to propagate, and let it die. I believe the destruction of this beautiful variety was caused by little maggot-like worms, which worked in the roots.
D. Heildersoni is a beautiful variety, raised by Mr. Henderson, a nurseryman of England; probably from D, elatum, which it very much resembles in growth and foliage. The flowers are sky-blue, with white centre, and are arranged in long spikes.
This is a splendid species or hybrid variety, with large lively blue flowers, with the centre white, shaded with reddish-purple; one of the most desirable hardy herbaceous plants in cultivation. It blooms from July to November, giving a supply of the most brilliant blue throughout the season. A. coelestinum is a variety, of formosum, or a hybrid of elatum, with sky-blue flowers, equally hardy. There is also a large number of hybrid Delphiniums, partaking of the habit of elatum, which are beautiful; but these described, will be sufficient to make up a good collection.
D. cardinalis is found in Southern California. - I should doubt its existence, had I not seen specimens of the dried plant, which were of a brilliant scarlet. I saw it in the herbarium of a gentleman, the editor of a paper in Los Angelos, who gathered it himself. It was advertised by some of the English and French nurserymen at about five dollars a plant. I ordered one from each place, when, to my great disappointment, it turned out to be D.puniceum, a plant from Siberia, which has small dull brick-red flowers; very different from D. cardinalis, which had flowers the size of those of D. elatum. I also imported seed of it, and had a hundred or more plants, which all turned out to be the common D. elatum. After this experience, who can blame me if I did feel a little waspish.
The annual Larkspurs are familiar to almost every one. Some of the species and varieties are among the most common ornaments of the garden. They are all hardy, and flower stronger when self-sown in summer, or planted in beds or borders in August or September. There are two distinct species of Annual Larkspur: D. Ajacis, or Dwarf Rocket, with a variety called the tall German Rocket; and D, consolida.
This species grows from two to three feet high, producing its flowers in spikes, which are continually pushing out from the main stem and branches, affording abundance of bloom through the season. The double varieties are the most desirable. Masses of the different colors appear to great advantage. There are the double white, rose, pale-blue, dark-blue, lilac or ash color, striped red and white, blue and white, and variously mottled.
A bed of the double varieties of this species is almost equal in beauty, when properly grown, to a bed of Hyacinths; early sown plants are in bloom in June and July, but do not continue in bloom so long as those of D. consolida; grows a foot high. We import them in packages of ten to fifteen varieties. To have them in the greatest perfection, the seed should be sown in autumn.
Appears very much like the last described, except the flower-stems are a foot and one-half to two feet high. In flower at the same time; perfectly hardy like the others. This is imported in about ten varieties; colors similar to the last, viz: pink or rose, white, grey, violet, blue, striped, spotted, etc.