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Graham Rice on Trials

Updates on trials and awards from the Royal Horticultural Society by Graham Rice

Dazzling delphinium from seed

Posted by Graham Rice on 24 Apr 2009 at 09:32 PM

Delphinium 'Sweethearts'. Image ©Terry Dowdeswell/New Millennium DelphiniumsThousands of miles away on the other side of the world, near the shores of North Island New Zealand, Terry Dowdeswell who runs New Millennium Delphiniums is working away producing superb new varieties. He's the finest delphinium breeder in the world and we saw some of his plants in last year's trial of delphiniums from seed at Wisley.

And that's the key: "delphiniums from seed". The RHS, in conjunction with the Delphinium Society, runs a permanent trial of traditional delphiniums, raised from cuttings. The finest varieties in the world are of this type. The problem is that plants produce so few cuttings for propagation that most gardeners never get the chance to grow them. It's just not possible for nurseries to produce enough plants.

Terry Dowdeswell, over there in the foothills above Wanganui New Zealand, produces varieties which are intended to be raised from seed. By diligent hand pollination of specifically chosen parent plants he produces a wide range of varieties in a fantastic range of colours ensuring that variations in colour and quality are eliminated so you can really depend on the results. One of his varieties was awarded an Award of Garden Merit at last year's trial and seed is now becoming easy to buy.

‘Sweethearts' is such a gorgeous colour, as you can see from the pictures. And one of the particular features the trials assessors picked out, which is also obvious, was the "bloom architecture". That is, the elegance, the shapeliness and evenness of the spike of flowers and the way in which the flowers are held - after all, that's what determines whether a delphinium spike looks good or it doesn't. ‘Sweethearts' is one of the best of its kind.

You can order seed of Delphinium ‘Sweethearts' from New Millennium Delphiniums or from Jelitto Seeds or from D'Arcy and Everest. And check out the New Millennium Delphiniums website and take a look all the other impressive Terry Dowdeswell delphiniums.



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