Friday, April 8, 2011


best guess zigzag larkspur
best guess Delphinium patens ssp. patens
Ranunculaceae

Here's my heart photo (in response to a comment made by Jeannette of Bread on the Water)... The first time I heard the word Delphinium was several years ago when a good friend from college asked me to do her summer wedding flowers. I am by no means a florist, gardener, or an expert in anything botanical, but she gave me a wonderful gift of special memories. We poured over flower books for months beforehand, calling and e-mailing, picking good color combinations and shapes of flower arrangements. The day before her wedding we visited the Columbus, OH morning flower market to haul buckets and buckets of flowers home. I spent an exhausting 28 hours straight prepping and arranging roses, delphiniums, bells of Ireland, and numerous other flowers in the cool of her basement. However, she insisted on making her own wedding bouquet. After I noticed she was too busy accommodating her guests, I made a bouquet for her as a just-in-case and hid it in the fridge. She was in tears as she was desperately trying to get ready for her wedding ceremony and never got around to making her own bouquet. I said, "Never fear, my dear." Then, I showed her what I made for her all wrapped up neatly in a large satin ribbon. She burst into more tears. While I understood her appreciation, I hadn't meant to cause her more tears... plus, her eyes would be puffy for photographs. That moment was one of my favorite memories of a friend, gifts to each other of the heart. Thank you, Paula.

So, onto the ID stuff... This is my best guess. The other possibility is the Parry's Larkspur (Delphinium parryi ssp. parryi). Delphiniums are nowhere to be found on the 2006 CNPS plant list for Garland Ranch. It's thanks to my handy-dandy, brand new Wildflowers of Garland Ranch - a field guide by Michael Mitchell and Rod M. Yeager that I could even begin to narrow down the 57 species and subspecies of Delphiniums found in CA and 22 found in Monterey County alone. It's not a terribly uncommon flower at Garland as I have photos of this beautiful purple from past anniversary hikes, unfortunately not posted on Nature ID. I usually associate delphiniums with Pinnacles National Monument where some years they grow in impressive patches along the little creek. I was surprised to discover this flower is related to the buttercups.

7 comments:

Jeannette said...

And a lovely picture it is!

Allison said...

Purple like the ring my father once gave me.

What a sweet and kind friend you are, Katie!

Jennifer said...

Great story. I love Delphiniums. I have a really nice one in my garden that gets bushier and bushier every year...Delphinium Elatum

Cindy said...

After you mentioned the new Garland Ranch field guide, a friend had it today on our Earth Day wildflower census and we used it several times as a companion to the more staid dichotomous key. I like it, thanks for mentioning it. We had fun today imagining the insects and hummers probe the spur part of the larkspur flowers for nectar.

Nature-Drunk said...

Love your story and although the occasion wasn't as personal as yours, I can sort of relate: I was asked to donate bouquets for my son's 8th grade graduation a few years back. Everyone loved the "wildness" of the flowers I chose: yarrow, grasses, and yellow something or others I didn't know how to ID.

This year IDing will be easier as I just found a California wildflower field guide in my late father's mounds of books. That, and "Notes on Journeying in California's Northern Mountains," by John Muir. I see these as gifts from my dad.

Blessings to you, Katie.

Out on the prairie said...

A favorite I will see in a month.

Nature ID (Katie) said...

Jeannette, I'm not sure I captured your intent of a "heart photo." Interestingly enough, I have only one actual paper photo from the entire experience.

Allison, I'll have to look around your blog to see if you posted about the ring given to you by your father.

Jennifer, I hope you're taking pics of your garden as it has changed so much in a just a few years.

Cindy, Carol LeNeve told me tidy tips and tansy phacelia were blooming profusely along Hwy 25, north of 198 last week.

Amber, that's nice you're finding gifts from your dad. I hope you're doing well.

Steve, I look forward to seeing your pics.