Spikes at risk Posted on December 2, 2011

So many plants have reacted strangely to this endless autumn that one more may seem inconsequential. It is sad to see Japanese maples standing with shrivelled brown leaves because there was no cold to trigger their abscission process, no autumn colour and no leaf fall, but they will rearrange themselves.

I’m not so sure about my favouritedelphinium, which looks set to flower in December. It is one of the noble named varieties that seem to be gradually disappearing from nurseries, their propagation (by cuttings in March) being a chancy business. My ‘Clifford Sky’, the purest blue with a white eye, came as a rooted cutting from the admirable Kevin of Beeches Nursery at Ashdon. In its first season it sprang from the border like a rocket. Last year it produced nine splendid spikes. Perhaps I dead-headed it too enthusiastically: back to one foot from the ground. Now it has gathered all its forces to flower again. A bad freeze and its strength will be sadly depleted; small chance of many cuttings or a good show next year.

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