Lower front, Candlelight’s orange aurora varies in its location and intensity; the orange deepens as the blossom ages. This is not a huge dahlia but it’s one of the best dahlias for cutting, lasts forever and just gets prettier.
This blossom of Gloriosa had more red highlights than most. I like!
This is Kelvin Floodlight; normally a huge plant. I pulled it with several non-performing tubers after they had been in the ground for a few weeks, when most of the dahlias had good sized plants. I noticed a tiny sprout that had done nothing on this tuber and stuck it in a ten inch pot, intending to find a place for it later if it grew. It did grow and I never did find a place for it. Now it’s blossomed; still in the small pot, much more than I deserve.
Also a bonus shot. One of my Croydon’s Masterpiece plants is blossoming too yellow. It’s still a pretty color but not what I get normally. Evidently, all the better to give some intense sunset effects, streaks of purple.
Patches (two shots) is still an early favorite for it’s clown like irregular coloring. Each blossom is different and the blossoms fade from white/purple to pink/purple.
The delicate blush water lily is Yvonne.
Lemon Kiss is next, the plant is a bit tall for the front of the bed unless you put it in front of a really tall dahlia like Bonaventure; it would be a nice combo but I didn’t grow Bonaventure this year.
Then a shot of Pooh at the top left; a very tall plant for such a small flower but he’s so cheerful. I can’t resist growing at least one plant of him. To his lower right is Gloriosa, shyly turning her head.
Then Esther. Perfect for the front of the bed or in a pot but I don’t know if it’s possible to buy those tubers any more.
No pictures yet this year of Croyden’s Masterpiece or collaret Cherubino who have also blossomed. The firsts were not great because of the summer heat. Dahlia season’s just begun.
I’m starting out with a bit of a cheat. Citron de Cap did not do well for me last year, although the one or two blossoms that opened were beautiful, that was it. I was going to discard and a friend said she’d like to try with a few of the ones that weren’t doing well for me. She sent me a picture when it was first showing color and I wondered if I’d sent her the wrong tuber because it there was so much pink. But it’s opening now and the fine, lacinated petals are unmistakable. She says there are more fat buds. I am very jealous.
The next two pictures are new dahlias for me. Candlelight is a medium sized plant, good for the front or middle of the bed and Swan’s describes it as a good cutting dahlia.
The lemon yellow is Ferncliff’s Lemon Kiss and it’s another keeper for the front of the bed.
Yvonne, is always a favorite; such a delicate lady.
And the last shot is of Art Deco. I’ve been growing it in the deck boxes for years. This year, I found a lantana on sale during late spring and planted it, hoping that my color memory was good and that it would work with the dahlias when they opened. I think it works.
I’ve been looking forward to this dahlia opening since I saw it at Dahlia Hill in Midland, MI, last summer. Although described as a lavender, I remembered it as a day-glo pink and this could fit both descriptions, sort of. Big and beefy, the petals twist; adding even more interest.
While not completely organic, I do make it a practice never to spray insecticides on blossoming plants to protect bees and other beneficials so you will see the occasional hole or half eaten petal. One
morning though I came out to a just-opening Kidd’s Climax with a hole that looked like it had been gouged out with a sharp ice cream scoop. I was looking for caterpillars and instead, found several huge Katydids with enough droppings nearby to convince me that they were the culprits. They met an abrupt end. I did some research and yes, they do eat dahlias and no, there’s not a good control for them this time of year. There are some that I might try earlier in the year if the problem repeats, but after my search and destroy efforts, I’m not seeing much more damage.
Pooh, and other collarettes are the best for attracting bees as their centers are so open.
Croyden’s Masterpiece is still the very best blend of sunset colors. The first one of these to open this year was also the largest dahlia I’ve ever grown. Not really working at that; I don’t disbud, for example, it’s still awesome to see. I’ve already started labeling the plants that are performing early and well to save only those tubers for next year.
Devon Excel, below, will turn more pink/lavender as it develops. I love the delicacy of these colors.
The dahlia garden is still pretty green, with some notable exceptions. The smaller varieties have been blossoming for a few weeks with Susan Komen being the first to put on a display. It is the smallest plant of all of mine, a gift from a neighbor who didn’t want to over winter the tubers from a late season purchase.
Dahlia Binky is generous with its blossoms and and easy to grow, one (picky) undesirable habit is that the blossoms tend to be hidden in the new growth.
Binky fronts large-flowered dahlia Patches, which was the first of the large varieties to open. It’s purple and white markings are more irregular than this picture would indicate and the white tends to fade to pink as the flower ages, for a unique blend of pink and purple.
The biggest and the showiest of the cool colors this year is Kidds Climax. I grew all of these last year but this is the best performance that I’ve had from this dahlia.
In the warm colors side of the bed, Croydons Masterpiece, the one that motivated me to grow these myself, is not a disappointment this year. I love its subtle blends of yellows, pinks and purples. It’s described as an orange blossom but it’s much more colorful than that.
The new and much anticipated warm color dahlia this year, Lady Darlene, has also opened to meet all expectations. Although at first I thought she was too red, as she’s opened, she’s showed more yellow and I like the blend with the red petals, most. She’s only showing one other bud at the moment so I don’t know whether I will have much opportunity to judge whether this is typical this year. I’m just enjoying what she’s showing now.
I am not the only one. This small fellow lived in her for a couple of days. My guess is an immature grey tree frog. I read they have chameleon tendencies so are rarely grey. But if anyone can ID him for sure, I’d be interested in knowing his variety.
I was worried about whether he could really get enough food and water there, as well as fluctuations in temperatures; our nights have been almost cold. So was fine with him moving on.
[oqeygallery id=35]On this winter day when once again my eye sees nothing but white covering the neutrals of bark and evergreens, I decided to share pictures of a dahlia garden in France. I was told it was one of the oldest Dahlia expositions in France; located just outside the town of Coutances, near the west coast of France. The town itself is has a historic cathedral and town hall, and living up to the town’s three flower Ville Fleuri status, it was well decorated with plantings when I visited.
But I chose to stay in Granville, on the ocean. My room had a view of a bump in the ocean that I undertstood to be Mount Saint Michel. It was off season and inexpensive except my weekend corresponded with a fleet of sailboats from England, an annual sporting event, and the restaurants were full of English speaking people with wind burns.
The location of the dahlia exhibition is a gardening school, Lycée Agricole de Coutances. In addition to the dahlia display, which is only worth visiting in late summer or fall, the students have well-landscaped exhibition gardens, and the commercial greenhouses were impressive.
The gallery starts with two pictures in the town of Coutances, the cathedral and the town hall. Then shots of the dahlias. As I looked at my pictures, I realized that the majority of my favorites were in the warm colors so I pruned down that collection. It was hard. Lilac Times is one of my favorites in cool colors, enhanced by the dark stems on the plants. The last two shots are of Granville. My hotel is the closest one high on the right and my room was one of those with the ocean colored balconies. I’d thought I might visit Mount Saint Michel on my unplanned day during my stay but with such a nice situation, it seemed silly to go get in my car and drive to another place to see the ocean. I wandered around the town; walked a cliff walk to Jardin Christian Dior; took pictures; walked back along the ocean; watched people sail the sky. Lovely day; lovely memory for a snowy New England weekend.
Dahlia Bodacious, still not as full as they should be but they definitely make me smile. The frequent rainy weather has caused most of the larger dahlias to hang their heads but since Bodacious is about seven feet tall, and the bed is on top of a slope, it doesn’t matter.
Clockwise, Bodacious, hy Mom (white cactus), Kidds Climax (pink/yellow blend), and Devonne Excel, which goes from lavender to pink for me. Devonne Excel has been a wonderful performer. The plant is covered in blossoms, which is the way a dahlia plant should be in October.
Another group shot from a different angle, more to the right of the camera shot above and toward the front of the bed. Clockwise again, Bodacious, Yvonne (peach waterlilly), a buried and underloved Twister (fuscia). I planted too close, especially for my sun conditions and some of the middle plants did not perform. The white blossoms, center front, are Gitt’s Perfection; they haven’t turned pink yet and should get much larger, too.
To the left are the same Devonne Excel, a small Croyden’s Masterpiece and up to hy Mom again.
Below is Gitts Perfection; starting to realize it’s pink.
This dahlia was mentioned in a few of my posts last summer, it’s so much prettier than the pictures that when I ordered it; I wasn’t planning to write about it this year. But it’s still my best performer in the warm colors end of the bed. The clump has been blossoming cheerfully for weeks now and with all of the buds, it looks like it keep blossoming until frost, like last year.
I also wanted to share this photo, taken by my Ohio friend. I sent her a couple of tubers and she’s growing them in a container, in full sun. The blossoms have almost twice the petals. I’m not even very jealous. Not very.
I do have more than just dahlias going on in the garden, still lots of food coming in, and today I planted hydrangea Pinky Winky in between the stumps of the arborvitae that was trying to eat the house. I had a landscaping service come out earlier this summer and clean them out along with layers and layers of vining plants that had filled in as undergrowth. Ivy competed with Perrywinkle and various other vining weeds. The worker spent all afternoon just clearing and clearing. He said he kept thinking he was at the bottom of it and then would find another layer of vines and roots. After he did as much as he could, I haunted the place where my Company puts computer boxes to be thrown away and brought home big boxes to cover the area and hopefully smother most of what’s left.
I’ve raised the hydrangea from a four inch pot and it’s still pretty small to make any impact in the area. But I visited a good nursery yesterday and looked at hydrangeas in larger pots and decided that I’d rather work with a small one, even if it takes longer to make an impact. So next I’ll cover the cardboard with maybe a little dirt and the last of this spring’s mulch pile and think about what, if anything else, I want in that space.
I started my morning gazing at the dahlia bed with a cup of coffee in my hand and soon shifted to cleaning and weeding. In addition to removing older browned leaves at the bottom, which develop on the bigger plants, I decided to take out some of the shortest branches that were badly shaded or leaning into other plants. I took them out at the stem. They wouldn’t have produced blossoms and it will open up the plant for better air circulation, but never having read about doing that, I’m a little apprehensive. Hope that it won’t damage the plants.
One thing I didn’t do is cull the bad plant of Harvey Koop; after months of babying it and wishing it healthy while worrying that it was virused and would affect the plants around it, I cannot believe that it’s not even the right color. Harvey Koop is variagated and this is a deep reddish purple. Because of the shape and because the darkest color in its variation may match this, I expect that the grower cloned a plant that was reverting. Reversion to a solid is often a problem with striped or variagated plants but when you buy from a reputable grower, you expect the plant to be true. It does such a nice job of bringing out the purple in Croydon’s Masterpiece, right behind it in the picture, I probably won’t pull and destroy until it’s done blossoming.
Another procrastination, Bodacious was not pinched back properly (my fault) and the blossoms, at the top of a too tall plant were first deformed (July heat was also a factor) and then the first one that I let blossom was single. This second one is fuller than the last but still not the dahlia that it should be. I should cut it off to give the blossoms lower on the plant a chance to develop properly. However, with it’s bright colors at the top of a slight slope up from the street and 7′ above the ground, it’s attracting attention from people on the street.
This is another well-performing dahlia that I’ll grow again next year. It has been blossoming consistently for weeks now and is still covered with buds.
However, if my plants are typical, once again Swan’s online catalogue picture was a little misleading. Showing a single blossom, they show a mostly white flower with touches of purple, even lighter than the photo above. My blossoms spend most of their life mostly purple with touches of white. Another very picky minus is the way that the blossoms open below and slightly obscured by the new buds.
But in my opinion it makes up for that with it’s compact size and exhuberance. Its dark stems add visual interest and the foliage is healthy right to the ground; without a touch of blight. It’s colors coordinate well with the bigger, darker purples like Patches and it’s just as early. This small, colorful, water lilly dahlia is perfect for the front of the bed.
Although I’ve visited many exceptional dahlia gardens, the photo gallery below is about the dahlia that turned me into a (rank novice) grower, Croyden’s Masterpiece. Years ago, I started with a mixed bag from a Michigan grower, because my main reason was to have some tubers to show as I talked to garden clubs about the dahlia gardens that I’d visited in France. Spring came and I stuck the tubers in here and there, with poor success. Croyden’s Masterpiece, however, bloomed long enough and beautifully enough that I was hooked. Toward the end of the season, the plants that looked healthy one day wilted and died the next. I have come to understand that too much nitrogen can cause weak stems and rotted tubers and I now suspect this was the cause.
However, the urge sort of simmered in my heart for a few years in spite of my failures. With my full time job, it’s hard to get away to see dahlias in public gardens and I missed them. After success with a container dahlia, Art Deco, I decided last year to try growing dahlias again. This time in a small dedicated dahlia bed. Because the bed was small, Croyden’s Masterpiece was planted in the front of the nearby rose bed that I keep richly fertilized, and the plants never did well. I got a few blossoms that I thoroughly enjoyed but the color was weak and they were never the size they should be. The tubers may also have been planted too shallowly; they didn’t look good when I dug them. With all that, I decided to purchase new tubers for this year. Properly planted in the dedicated dahlia bed, I think you will agree that I have my reward.
You may ask about it’s true color and all I can tell you is that these photos are true. While it’s classified as an orange variety, it really does vary that much depending on the light and the age of the petals. The last shot probably shows that variation the best. It’s like watching a slow motion sunset.[oqeygallery id=32]
Although a number of the larger, later dahlias have not even bloomed yet, many of them are doing very nicely. Yes, I know some of the petals look a little chewed. I’ve had a bad problem with Japanese Beetles this year; I pick them daily but they can do a lot of damage before then. I have decided the chewed petals are a badge that proclaims I like bees.
Dahlia Patches was initially a disappointment to me. The colors were not at all what Swan’s website shows, and I expected a pink/purple blend. I planted it at the end of the bed with other pinks and instead it’s a white/purple blend with more contrast than I expected. But it’s beginning to grow on me. It is a good size, it is early and the mix of purple and white does vary from blossom to blossom. As the blossoms fade, the purple does get pinker and the white does get a little pink so that I can ALMOST see the dahlia I thought I purchased. Almost.
Hy Mom is just what I’d seen in other gardens and Yvonne is a lovely waterlilly variety that I hope to grow year after year.
Dahlias Esther, Kasasagi, lil Scotty and Ellen Houston, all from last year’s plants are very happy. And I think that’s my lesson learned, in year three of dahlia growing (with a few years off between year one and two), people who save seeds say that the plants that do well in your microclimate adapt and do better, year after year. That may be especially true with dahlias and the tubers that I save. One can hope.
The colors of this collarette dahlia remind me of when I was a child and dad bought home color chips to pick out colors for his potentially two-toned Cadilac. We were actually dirt poor at the time as we lived on a farm so dirt was most of what we owned. Dad’s day job was for Cadilac Motors in Detroit. At that time the employee discounts were so good that he could buy one from the new models and sell it a year later at a profit.
Yellow and red, about these shades of yellow and red, were my favorites and I couldn’t see why the rest of my family couldn’t see it. At my insistence, I do think someone tried to explain the meaning of “resale value” to me but I was pretty young and these two colors were the very best!
I may never have seen a car in these colors, and with my well-trained adult tastes I would probably think it ugly, but I do have dahlia “Pooh” to remind me what it is to be a child.
I was evidently wrong when I opined that the dahlias wouldn’t take any harm if they waited for another week. I skipped out of the office on Friday night saying, “the dahlias are calling to me”; but when I got home and opened the box of tuber from Swan Dahlias, I saw a problem. The tubers were bagged together and had started growing. Many of them had long, ropey roots looping around the outside of the plastic bag. And the general rule is that dahlia roots don’t like to be disturbed.
I had planned on helping out at the Lancaster Garden Club Plant Sale Saturday (sorry friends) and maybe doing a little prep work, but most of the planting on Sunday. However, this was something that needed immediate attention.
Up at five, I quickly worked in another barrow of composted wood chips and placed the tubers and plants on top of the beds before the sun hit them. Then worked as fast as I could digging in the tubers and then the plants.
The plants are from Corralitos Gardens and I had missed the fact that I was actually buying plants. They’d looked pretty ratty when I took them out of their shipping package. Probably my fault because I hadn’t opened them the day they arrived. I was able to nurse almost all of them back to health, losing only one Harvey Koop and one of the bonus plants. Sad about Harvey as he was one of the biggest reasons for that order. It was named by/for the father of the woman who owns Hamilton Dahlia Farm that I visited in Michigan last year. I’d ordered two and the second one is still alive, although the weakest of the remaining plants. Fingers crossed for Harvey.
It was a little awkward to work with the mix of tubers and plants. They had different requirements for planting. But it will be interesting to compare performance in my garden. Some things I did differently this year:
Didn’t start tubers in pots. There were just too many and the tubers I direct planted last year were only a week or two behind when they blossomed.
Didn’t water in– the tubers, anyway. Plants I treated like tomatoes. I’ve come to respect how little water they need as evidenced by the way they sprout vigorously, wrapped in newspaper; or plastic for that matter.
The holes for the tubers are deeper than last year, 4-5″ and I’ve filled them in only part way. I’ll add dirt as I see the sprouts peek through.
One thing that made the task go quickly was the uncharacteristic planning work that I had done. With this many colors and sizes, I needed to be organized. All of my orders were documented in a spreadsheet where I captured key characteristics: height, bloom type, color and more. Then I used Visio to create a rough map of where I would put the dahlias, using cut-and-pasted pictures from the sellers. I had to make a few adjustments while planting because of bonus plants and plants from last year that I wanted to use, but having this Visio made the job go much faster. And it’s sorta pretty.
Traditions are important in France and change is slow in coming. I was made sad this year to find out that the very hotel that I was recommending when I surprised myself by saying the words, “whenever I’m in Paris”, has changed. It still lives on a tiny street near the Latin quarter and the Seine, but when I returned to it, trip after trip, it was a modestly priced hotel with tiny, indifferently decorated (but clean) rooms; plumbing that grumbled loudly to get me out of bed in the mornings; weak English-syle coffee with a roll, a croissant, butter and jam, for breakfast; and a friendly manager who spoke English and remembered her customers; even when it was years between visits. I usually booked with an e-mail saying, “can I still get the same rate?” and the answer was almost always yes. Sadly, a friend came back to me for another recommendation this year because the rates have more than doubled. It appears to have changed ownership and become part of a small luxury chain.
The Left Bank, while a good place for inexpensive hotels and restaurants by Paris standards, has never been the place where people would look first for true luxury accommodations. The historic old streets are small and noisy, full of the smells of diesel fuel and garlic. At night, the hawkers in the small streets will stand in the doors of the various ethnic restaurants, music blaring, to try to pull you in for dinner. The crowds are full of students, emigrants and budget tourists. But the location has its charms, especially for me. A short walk to the East, just past the Arab World Institute, and the small Park zoo, is the entrance to one of the most wonderful places in the world, Jardin des Plantes, Paris.
The people of Paris use this place (no entrance fee, except for the zoo and museums) as their front porch, their work-out studio, their alternate living room. Summer, winter, rain or shine, there are always people in this park. Jogging, walking, sitting, snacking in the cafes. Rows of benches under the Plane trees create a cool haven in the summer and a comfortable place to sit year-round, to soak in the beauty and the history. Kings and queens have walked here; in fact it was established as a medicinal garden for a king, hundreds of years ago. Sitting as close as it does to the historical center of Paris, it’s challenges, reversals and perseverance to become a world-class botanical and scientific resource could fill a book. But you can see it; soak up its essence, for free.
I highly recommend it as a cure for jet lag. The overnight flights often drop you off in Paris in the morning, with little or no sleep and an afternoon to fill. Take a book to the park, wander around and when you get tired, find a comfortable bench. The light of day will start to reset your clock and the beauties will sooth the soul.
There are a number of gardens, including one that organizes plants by their botanical characteristics; so read up on your interests before you visit or ask for a map at the small gate house. The rose garden is best in late May or very early June as it contains a number of once blooming varieties, but the main parterres have many roses that last most of the summer. Most of the pictures in the gallery were taken in the main parterres.
Notice the smoke over Buffon’s right shoulder in the long shot toward the front gate (fourth in the gallery). There were some particularly vehement protests that day; I saw worried police everywhere on my way to the gardens but I was oblivious to the cause until I heard the noise, and saw that night’s news. Explosions, smoke, screaming loudspeakers and sirens as the protests passed the park, but inside it was an island of tranquility.[oqeygallery id=20]
I’ve been wanting a hard frost to kill off the tops of the dahlias; I want to do some expansion of the bed and add a lot of compost to see if that will help with the poor (purchased) soil that I used to build the beds. However, mother nature over-acheived. As I was driving home from work last night what was rain in eastern MA started turning into sleet and then fluffy white stuff as I climbed in elevation near home. As the temps dropped, it continued and we have a measurable accumulation from overnight. Weather people are also talking about more of the white stuff this weekend so I will need to dig dahlia tubers quickly.
Things are actually not looking too bad this morning but when the frozen tissues thaw, that expansion will destroy the plants. Shots of a deck box and the garden follow. The Swiss Chard and parsley will probably recover. Not the nasturtiums.
[oqeygallery id=19]To someone starved to see dahlias growing as I was this summer, Hamilton Dahlia Farm in Hamilton, MI, is a Las Vegas sized, all you can eat buffet. Lots of variety, for every taste, and it goes on for acres. The difficult part of this post was selecting which of the many beautiful dahlias to feature in the gallery. The Farm is not a public garden where you might go to see how dahlias work in mixed borders, like the Peace Garden in Caen, France. You may see the occasional weed or stem from quick and efficient dead-heading. Don’t worry, the sheer vibrance of these beautiful flowers captures the eye and sends their charms straight to the heart. And, in terms of dahlias by the square foot, the Farm is actually several times the size of those gardens and other French dahlia demostration gardens like Orleans La Source, Coutances, and Parc Floral Vincennes. The Farm sells its dahlias wholesale; there were a couple of wedding parties there the same day that I was, picking them by the dozen, and also sells retail at two different farm markets in Michigan. On Saturdays they sell at Fulton Street Market in Grand Rapids, which is where the last shot was taken.
Most of my success has been with small varieties, starting with some I bought for my deck boxes a couple of years ago. So I made a beeline for the largest, bowling-ball-wanabees with beauty treatments. Most of the pictures I selected feature them. Where I could find the name tags, I’ve labeled them. The Farm’s web site also has many beautiful pictures, all labeled.