It was 25 years ago last week that Jim and Jenny Archibald flew into Denver on their first expedition to Western America: how do I know this so precisely? Because the arrived the day my daughter, Eleni, was born (June 17, 1987)...we shall not dwell on a few of the amusing and not so amusing ramifications of this conjunction.
Suffice it to say that I was rather torn, shall we say, between my fatherly responsibilities and my pressing desire to host the premier plant explorers of the last half of the century. I couldn't WAIT to show off Denver Botanic Gardens to Jim and Jenny. And when I finally managed to shepherd them down there, I remember only two things: it took them forever to get down to the Rock Alpine Garden because Jim was so entranced with our Spuria collections (which we subsequently flushed), declaring it the best thing we had at the time...and seemingly the only plant in the Rock Alpine Garden which captivated Jim was Delphinium semibarbatum (better known by the zippy name Delphinium zalil) which I had obtained from Index Seminum. I had a stand of a couple plants forming astonishing golden candelabrums. These persisted for a number of years and they were at their apogee for Jim and Jenny exactly a quarter century ago...they persisted a few years and one day I realized they were gone....I regret that there are quite a few sad stories along these lines in my resume...but this one has a sort of happy sequel. Read on!
So once again, the zany, zesty, and yes--zippy--Zalil is back! Why do I not hear clarions blasting? Drums rolling? Why is the world so much more interested in Angelina Jolie's anorexic midriff than in the moonlight (and sometimes golden) larkspur of the wild, windy Steppes of Asia?
I will tell you why, friends....the vast unwashed οι πολλοι (hoi polloi) are hopeless!
(P.S. We still need and want the deep golden form: help me get it Puhleeaase!)