The A to Z of TV Gardening – Letter D: Carol Kirkwood takes an alphabetical journey through the world of television gardening, getting inspiration and advice from some of the BBC’s most popular gardening presenters and programmes.
The A to Z of TV Gardening – Letter D
Delphinium is a genus of about 300 species of perennial flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae, native throughout the Northern Hemisphere and also on the high mountains of tropical Africa. The genus was erected by Carl Linnaeus. All members of the genus Delphinium are toxic to humans and livestock. The common name “larkspur” is shared between perennial Delphinium species and annual species of the genus Consolida. Molecular data show that Consolida, as well as another segregate genus, Aconitella, are both embedded in Delphinium.
The genus name Delphinium derives from the Ancient Greek word delphínion which means “dolphin”, a name used in De Materia Medica for some kind of larkspur. Pedanius Dioscorides said the plant got its name because of its dolphin-shaped flowers.
Dahlia is a genus of bushy, tuberous, herbaceous perennial plants native to Mexico. A member of the Asteraceae (formerly Compositae) family of dicotyledonous plants, its garden relatives thus include the sunflower, daisy, chrysanthemum, and zinnia. There are 42 species of dahlia, with hybrids commonly grown as garden plants. Flower forms are variable, with one head per stem; these can be as small as 5 cm (2 in) diameter or up to 30 cm (1 ft) (“dinner plate”). This great variety results from dahlias being octoploids—that is, they have eight sets of homologous chromosomes, whereas most plants have only two. In addition, dahlias also contain many transposons—genetic pieces that move from place to place upon an allele—which contributes to their manifesting such great diversity.
Narcissus is a genus of predominantly spring perennial plants of the amaryllis family, Amaryllidaceae. Various common names including daffodil, daffadowndilly, narcissus and jonquil are used to describe all or some members of the genus. Narcissus has conspicuous flowers with six petal-like tepals surmounted by a cup- or trumpet-shaped corona. The flowers are generally white or yellow (also orange or pink in garden varieties), with either uniform or contrasting coloured tepals and corona.
Narcissus were well known in ancient civilisation, both medicinally and botanically, but formally described by Linnaeus in his Species Plantarum (1753). The genus is generally considered to have about ten sections with approximately 50 species. The number of species has varied, depending on how they are classified, due to similarity between species and hybridisation. The genus arose some time in the Late Oligocene to Early Miocene epochs, in the Iberian peninsula and adjacent areas of southwest Europe. The exact origin of the name Narcissus is unknown, but it is often linked to a Greek word for intoxicated (narcotic) and the myth of the youth of that name who fell in love with his own reflection. The English word “daffodil” appears to be derived from “asphodel”, with which it was commonly compared.