Tag Archives: dahlias

Pale and interesting ?! 

20 Sep

I’ve noticed a bit of a floral shift over the last year – the well established trend for bold, dark florals seems to be facing a bit of competition from the pale end of the spectrum. 

For many years, the dahlias that you’d see everywhere were the dark, moody ‘Chat Noir’ and ‘Arabian Night’.

  
But this autumn, you’d have to have been going round with your eyes closed not to have spotted this years ‘must-have’ dahlia – ‘Cafe au Lait’ – a completely different kind of colour – pale, subtle, even maybe a little insipid ? 

Photo below courtesy of Cherfold Cottage Flowers – more beautiful homegrown flowers. 

  
I think some of this love for paler flowers has come from another trend I’ve spotted on Instagram – a very theatrical setting for floral arrangements, reminisant of Dutch Masters paintings. And with a dark background, the paler flowers really pop out ! 

  
   
 
The photos above are from the beautiful The Garden Gate Flower Company who specialise in homegrown British flowers – and who also take beautiful photographs ! 

Obviously these paler flowers also suit the bridal flowers market. 

So it is no surprise to see that this years bulb catalogues are also full of new paler varieties. 

I’ve always grown plenty of bright and bold tulips that look equally fabulous in the garden as they do in the house. 

  
But this autumn I’m keen to try a new palette of softer, subtler colours. 

The ones that have caught my eye include ‘La Belle Epoque‘, ‘Bruine Wimpel‘, and ‘Purple Tower’.

   
   
This last one , above, isn’t really pale and interesting but so unusual ! 

I’ll report back in May to see if pale is really interesting ! 

How will I ever choose ??!!?? – Dahlia dilemma

16 Jan

Its that time of year again when I realise just how indecisive I am ! Yes its time to order some new dahlias.

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I do just love Dahlias ! They’re relatively easy to grow – I hesitate to say that anything is easy to grow as I find I always seem to have problems with the plants that everyone says are so easy !! But once you’ve learnt the routine they are pretty simple.

In the past I always bought dry tubers that were delivered in early March. These are best potted up into large 10 litre pots, put somewhere out of the way where they will just get on with their stuff. By June you should have fairly substantial plants that can either be planted out into gaps in your beds or simply place the pots in the gaps. They then flower their hearts out till the first frosts.

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These days I mainly grow my dahlias on my allotment for cutting – with a small garden I’m always reluctant to cut blooms – and in my allotment I can also grow colours that I would be reluctant to have in my garden ( such as yellow !). I do find I want different colours in the house than in the garden so that’s where my cutting garden comes into its own – more on that another day.

I have also made the switch to rooted cuttings – these are delivered in early may ready to be potted up immediately and kept frost free for a few more weeks. They grow incredibly quickly and you will have a similar sized plant as one you’d grown from a tuber by June/July and then they go on to flower for the rest of the summer. For me, they have been slightly more reliable then tubers and have developed into bigger better plants.

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Given the slight unreliability of over wintering dahlias ( see previous post) I have decided to order a dozen rooted cuttings every year to maintain my dahlia bed and thereby lies the problem ! Halls of Heddon have simply hundreds of varieties on offer and it is really impossible to narrow it down to a mere 12!

Over the last few years I have grown the following varieties – New Baby;Jescot Julie; Minley Carol; Jowey Mirella; Rip City ; – a great selection of dark purples and oranges and a variety of shapes.

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So this year I feel I need to ring the changes a bit with perhaps some brighter pinks like Thomas Edison; Ambition and American Dawn

Or maybe even some more subtle colours , like the beautiful Blanc y Verde.

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I get lots of inspiration from Sarah Raven’s catalogue which has great photos but its also worth visiting a garden with a good test bed in September to select your favourites – Baddesley Clinton has a great selection, as does Rousham House and of course RHS Wisley.

There’s no easy solution – other than turning my whole allotment over to dahlias so I could grow one of everything !!

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Putting the Garden to Bed

19 Nov

What a beautiful day it has been today ! The weather men promised us snow but here in Warwickshire we had bright sunshine and blue skies !

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Today was a gardening day, so I was well wrapped up with my feet toasty in my new Ilse Jacobsen boots and a suitably tasteless woolly hat!

We had our first frosts this week , so several of the more tender perennials have been blackened, including the dahlias.

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Over the years I have tried all the different ways to try and save my dahlias – digging them up and storing them in a frost free place, tucking them up under a thick duvet of compost, and even just keeping my fingers crossed!

None of these methods have been wholly successful, so this year I have decided to take a slightly different approach.Having removed the blackened stems, leaving a good 20cm of stem -so you can find them again in the spring and carefully labelled them,  I have swaddled the base of my dahlias in a thick mulch of standard compost. this will protect most of them from a reasonable frost although not necessarily a fortnight of snow. Waterlogged soil will also do for them as they will simply rot away.

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This mulching will probably mean at least half of my dahlias will survive. So to keep the numbers up I shall be ordering some rooted cuttings from Halls of Heddon. I have ordered rooted cutting from Halls for the last couple of years and been surprised how big these cuttings get in their first summer and how many flowers they produce – just as good as a plant grown from a dry tuber.

Its one of my favourite jobs deciding which new dahlias to order and  almost impossible deciding which colours !

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