Hello there, welcome back to my blog! After my long break, I am happy to take up blogging again and share my love of flowers with you. Today, I am taking you to my dahlia garden and I think it’s about time! We have been back from our summer holiday for two weeks now. Those weeks rushed by unpacking and doing the laundry. I have been trying to catch up in the garden and my boys have been getting ready for school.
This week is the first week of school for my boys. The two youngest are starting secondary school (or high school). It’s a big step, not only for them but for me too. Before the holidays, I said goodbye to the primary school where my eldest started 12 years ago.
After three weeks in Italy, it felt good to be home again and to see what was flowering in my garden. I was especially anxious to see how my dahlia garden was doing. As you may have read in this post, I joined a Dahlia association close to our home where I have a small plot to grow my own dahlias.
Due to the sunny, dry and cold spring, nature was running almost a month behind. I planted my dahlias at the end of April. When we went on holiday, in mid-July, not even all my dahlias were flowering! When we came back from our holiday all my dahlias were in flower but also full of spent flowers. Some plants had fallen over due to a storm in July, so there was a lot of work to be done. I started by dead heading my dahlias, removing spent and fading flowers.
You may, or may not, know that dahlias can bloom all summer and autumn until the first frost. To keep them producing blooms, you need to remove the spent flowers and, like sweet peas, the more flowers you cut, the more flowers you will get. My sweet peas, by the way, aren’t flowering at all at the moment. I removed all faded flowers and seed pods when we came home, hoping to get them to bloom again, but maybe they are done for the year. It’s sad.
So I cut off all the spent flowers off my dahlias, staked the plants in need of support and also picked lots of flowers for friends and family.
Dahlias come in different shapes and sizes and all colours, except blue. There are many varieties divided into types called decorative dahlias, cactus dahlias, ball dahlias, pompon dahlias, peony flowering dahlias, collerette dahlias and anemone flowering dahlias.
When I was looking for dahlia tubers last spring, I really didn’t know which ones to buy and what to expect. I never grew dahlias before. I did, of course, visit the cutting garden that inspired me to start a dahlia garden in the first place a year ago. In spring there was not a dahlia in bloom, so I had to rely on the pictures and descriptions on the dahlia growers sites. I bought most of my dahlia tubers online, some at the market and my mother gave me her Bishop of Llandaff dahlias. I was looking for dahlias in pink, orange and everything in between: peach, salmon, coral. I did know I wanted the Café au Lait dahlia, a very popular dahlia I was drooling over on Instagram last year. And I must say: it is gorgeous! I will do a full review of my dahlia garden somewhere in September, but now I will just share my favourites with you.
Café au lait
Prize-winning dahlia of the decorative type. Because of the size of the flowers, this is also called a dinner plate dahlia. The blooms on my Café au Lait dahlia are more breakfast plate size. Colours vary from soft pink to subtle shades of creamy coffee. There are lots of flowers to pick and they are big and strong! I love the wavy petals, the colour, the size, I love everything about it!
This is a peony flowering dahlia, meaning they have open centres and two or more rows of petals. The petals are a beautiful pink-orange-salmon and contrast well against the dark brown stems and foliage. It flowers abundantly and has nice long and sturdy stems which makes it a great cut flower.
This is a dahlia of the ball type and probably the best cut flower producer in my dahlia garden. The balls are very firm, the stems are long and sturdy and have a good vase life. Flowers are a light orange that goes well with most other colours. It’s a keeper!
Planning for next year’s dahlia garden
To me, dahlias are like hellebores, I can’t grow just one. Now I am growing dahlias, I want more. And like hellebores, there are endless varieties to keep me happy. Growing dahlias is easy and rewarding and I can’t wait until next year when I can try out new forms. I am not growing any anemone flowered or collerette dahlias right now, but I desperately want to! If you have a favourite variety you think I should be adding to my dahlia garden, I would love to hear!