There are many species and varieties of the perennial Larkspur, which are indispensable in a collection of plants; all hardy, flourish in almost any soil, and easily propagated by dividing the roots. The double varieties are in flower most of the sea son. The brilliancy of the blue color of some of the flowers cannot be surpassed.
Delphinium sinensis pleno. - Double Chinese. - 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.
Delphinium elatum. - (Upright.) - Bee Larkspur. - So called on account of the bifid termination of the nectary in the centre of the corolla, in connection with the anthers 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 cuneate (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, and blue with a white centre, which is very beautiful.
Delphinium Barlowii, - Barlow's Larkspur, - is a species or variety apparently intermediate between the Great-flowering and Bee Larkspur. It sends up a stem from three to five feet high, much branched at the top, covered with innumerable dark blue flowers in June and July, partaking somewhat of the character of the Bee Larkspur. Propagated by divisions of the root.
Delphinium grandijlorum. - Great-flowered. - One of the most showy of the genus, sporting into many varieties. Its height is from two to three feet, and continues to give a succes sion of flowers from June to October; which are large, of a fine blue, purple or white, double and single, 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, if done early, will 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 short of a hundred plants. It has flourished with me in a variety of soils. It will, in fact, grow anywhere without difficulty, only requiring to be divided every few years, when the roots become large. It is said to be a native of Siberia, and, of course, must be hardy.
Among a multitude of beautiful seedlings of my own raising, I have selected two as worthy of cultivation. The one named Delphinium Breckii, No. 1, has large double flowers of the most exquisite blue, which display themselves from June to November. It is generally acknowledged to be finer than the Double Chinese. The plant is more erect in its growth, from two to two and a half feet high; the color a clear, light, vivid, ultramarine blue.
Breck's No. 2, is darker colored than the last, and not quite so double, but makes a fine show.