I've always like Dahlias. It started with the little Figaro dahlias that are grown as annuals. These grow quickly from seed but don't store real well (because they are small tubers) for the next season. Thus it is easier to pick them up in six packs every year and start over. When I began to think of Dahlias as a more long term investment, the natural choice was the dramatic dinner plate sized flowers. I started with those back in 2018, just ordered a couple of mixed bags from various large scale flower catalogs. I still have a few from that first, random selection, but, like a wine drinker, my tastes have evolved.
|Noordwijks Glorie, Lady Darlene and Kelvin Floodlight|
Over the past few years I've gotten better at caring for and storing Dahlias so I feel more confident in spending some money to develop my collection. And while dahlia tubers can multiply out of control I have learned not to save everything just because I can. I cull tubers quite cold heartedly to keep the number manageable both in storage and in replanting.
I used to never bother to cut the blooms and bring them into the house. I enjoyed them more outside in the landscape largely because I spend so much time out in the garden each day. Then I started cutting them before a change in the weather so the blooms wouldn't go to waste when I was not out in the garden as much and so large, wet blooms would not break down the plants. Now I am learning to enjoy the cut flower goal, it has influenced my choice of varieties.
Firstly, dinner plate sized flowers aren't easy to arrange. They have, by necessity, much shorter, thicker stems. And they tend to shoulder out the smaller flowers and overwhelm a bouquet. They are still nice to bring in one at a time just to admire, but they don't play well with others. For this reason I am more interested in the mid-sized blooms, as well as a wider variety of shapes and textures.
|Longfield Gardens example bouquet|
Dahlias come in so many forms from tightly arranged ball shaped blooms to wide open blooms with a structure similar to water lilies. Some are small with open centers. Some are irregular or have rolled petals that look like a prickly cactus flower. Growing a wide variety of bloom shapes and textures makes them more fun to arrange into a bouquet. As well as more challenging. I need to hone my flower arranging skills.
I also prefer varieties with blooms that have a lot of shading or which change in color as the bloom matures. And I gravitate towards the bronze or copper color palette or the juxtaposition of pink with orange or yellow on the same petal. With these things in mind, I am slowly revamping my dahlia collection. These are some of the new varieties I have ordered for spring with those colors in mind.
|Groovy, Mai Tai, Cornell Bronze|
Crazy Legs, Iced Tea, Oh Honey
|A-Peeling and Center Court|
|Summer's End, Rawhide and Lights Out|