The gem of the Great Plains

Submitted by Kelaidis on Mon, 03/01/2010 - 23:47

Delphinium geyeri is still very common around Denver, especially in the hogbacks just West of the city. There are incredible stands near Fort Collins and Boulder as well. For almost a month in June this blazes the most amazing blue color. It is a dryland plant that must grow in sparse prairie grasses, preferably on clay soils and have a relatively dryish summer to really do its thing. It can get 4' or more tall--so rock gardeners may think it's too big...but every rock garden should have a wild garden and meadow nearby!

I have seen much dwarfer forms of this in the Wyoming steppe: sometimes barely a foot tall. Of course that may be environmental. It is not an easy plant to grow in containers and takes several years to reach its full glory.

This is a plant that has established in the Plains Garden at Denver Botanic Gardens. I have two good specimens I keep forgetting to photograph in my Westridge garden...

Just look at that blue....aaaaah! Only a few penstemons and meconopsis can match that piercing color!


Submitted by Weiser on Fri, 05/21/2010 - 12:49

I like the blues of the Delphiniums a lot. The west has so many to choose from.  I was not familiar with this species. At four foot tall it must stick out like a bright blue beacon for some distance. The shorter populations sound very garden worthy! I'll keep an eye out for seed.

Does this species go dormant in the summer?

Submitted by Kelaidis on Mon, 05/24/2010 - 12:02

It's not one of the tuberous kinds like Delphinium nuttallii, bicolor or menziesii. it stays fairly green until midsummer, but does eventually turn yellow and brown (especially in dry years).

Love them larkspurs!