The Ghost Delphinium
By: Kate Tirion, Proprietor – Deep Dirt Farm Institute
Observation is key to understanding. This year, I witnessed the bumblebee interacting with the lavender blossoms of Delphinium wootenii, sometimes called the Ghost Delphinium. Despite many other flower species to chose from this particular Arizona native flower seemed to be their most popular. In response we are growing more of the Ghost this year so that we can provide seed for restoration & for gardeners who wish to crate pollinator oases.
In early spring, if the conditions are right (sufficient moisture) you will find these perennial plants already germinating, slowly expanding their roots in the soil. As the weather warms the soil, two foot tall flower stalks, covered in buds, emerge rapidly. Opening from bottom to top over several weeks, the flowers attract a host of pollinators in addition to bumblebees.
In a garden setting this orchid-like flower would stand out amongst blue or red flax (linum sp), amongst silvery Artemesia or sagebrush, or Erioginum, a light and airy, branching buckwheat. Give Delphinium full sun or part shade, some compost, and mulch well.
One of the best characteristics of the Delphinium is their willingness to self seed in a favorable environment, returning year after year and increasing with little effort.
During November & December DDFI hosted three school groups, local & visiting volunteers, who enthusiastically pitched in to increase our Delphinium seed growing bed from 36 to 220 square feet; erect a fence & extend the water mains to support the expansion.
Volunteers at Kate Tirion’s Deep Dirt Farm Institute (DDFI) have been hard at work preparing native plant beds. DDFI sows the precious seeds of plants that we collect within our watershed. These plants then go on to produce many more seeds that we use in restoration projects.
Volunteer & grower, Kelly Fleming, pitches in to line the seed bed with .5” aviary netting to exclude gophers; soil is returned to the bed below grade so that the bed itself catches and holds the rain, reducing groundwater needs during the rain seasons.
Group of international youth complete the job begun by two other teen groups. (Winding groups: Verde Valley School)
Excavation to Perfection. Students work hard & have a lot of fun out at DDFI. Here students show-off their sunken garden bed.
Ivan Mingura works with volunteer, Hari, installing a fence around the seed increase zone. The fence protects the beds from the various hungry wild critters that roam DDFI.
Snowfall makes a sketch line of the water line extension
Agricultural drip tape distributes water evenly over the entire bed. Easily removed to work the bed and long lasting this irrigation system works on as little as 10 Lbs of pressure. Now seeded and mulched we await the first tiny green growth of life.