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.
On Thursday, I flushed a huge frog out of the Swiss Chard when I was watering. My guess from his size is that it would be a Bull Frog. I do live near wetlands but seeing a frog this far away from water is rare. Toads used to be common but not frogs. Worried about him, I moved a container of water that I keep, hoping that if the chipmunks are thirsty they will drink water instead of eat on a tomato — don’t ask how that’s working, and topped it off from the hose.
On Friday, when I went out to try to water the chard, again, I heard a splash coming from the vicinity of the waterbowl. Expecting to see Swamp Thang, I looked around for the source and found this sweet young thing, about a third of his size. I also saw some black threads wiggling around in the water and got excited about the possibility of tadpoles. But the timing worried me; how long to go from eggs to tadpoles?
I googled a bit and was becoming more and more convinced that they probably weren’t tadpoles, but mosquito larvae. But that night after work she was suspended in the water, nose and eyes sticking out, along with a number of the small black things. Would she really hang about with mosquito larvae? But the next morning, I didn’t like the way she looked, now resting at the bottom of the container in water that was now pretty yucky. She had turned a dark black, too. I tipped her out to see if she was living and decided to clean out the bowl. By the time I went to work she was back in the clean water and had returned to a more normal froggy color.
So now I have a frog living in my garden bed in less than three cups of water. Finally watering the Swiss Chard, I also flushed out a toad, who seems to be hanging about, so I put down a couple more containers of water that I’m cleaning and filling with the hose when I water the garden.
I think what has happened is that our warm and dry summer has dried out the vernal pools nearby and these wetlands creatures are under preassure to find water.