But then something changed that made larkspur fail year after year. Maybe it was warmer winters, or lack of moisture, or earlier springs — or maybe some combination of those and other factors. Other growers nearby and across the Midwest also complained that they couldn't grow larkspur anymore.
I kept trying, for several years continuing to direct seed a few beds in fall, with no luck. The last time I planted larkspur was in the fall of 2009, and that was really with no expectation of getting a good crop. The following spring, there was nothing. Some of the seeds germinated, but never produced the 4-foot stems we used to get. So I accepted defeat and stopped buying larkspur seed.
Here it is, the spring of 2012. A bed that was left untended over the winter — filled with last summer's annuals and this spring's weeds — has produced larkspur. It's not an abundant crop but the stems are tall and strong. It's reappearance suggests my previous theories were off the mark; winter was warm and spring was earlier than ever.
I don't know why larkspur has returned. I'm just happy to see it and encouraged enough to plant again this fall.