It’s Dahlia a-go-go in my garden at the moment and these blowsy beauties are providing sought after late summer colour.
I’ve not featured six of one type of plant in previous Six on Saturdays, but with my garden overflowing with dahlias, this is the week. I’m growing almost twenty types this year, some new tuburs and some which I overwintered in the ground.
Picking six has been harder than picking favourite tracks for Desert Island Discs but here goes…
First time growing this one and it’s unusual but alluring. This Cuban dance-hall name conjures up exotic nights and flouncy dresses and this dahlia has a form to match. The overall shape is quite a stiff multi-pointed starburst but the petals congregate closely towards the centre of the flower, creating a circular ruffle. These central petals are a black-currant squash pink, edged in gold.
I’ve found it doesn’t mix visually with some of the other dahlias planted nearby but I can forgive its individuality – it’s great for flower arranging – the stiff stem and upright flower are very easy to handle.
Another Dahlia, another party-themed name. This one is a prolific flowerer and has a lovely antique pale burgundy colouring and classic shape.
It’s probably just my imagination but there’s something about this one that conjures up images of a well turned out older lady. It’s understated and traditional. As the flowers tend to point skywards they appear rather aloof, as if thinking themselves superior to the brasher young up-start dahlias nearby.
As a result the name Bacardi just doesn’t work for me. It’s more drunken teenager on the town than tea at the Ritz.
Dahlia ‘Blanc Y Verde’
This was an unusual purchase for me as I don’t have much white in my garden and I more am attracted to the brighter end of the colour spectrum.
I bought this thinking I’d put it in the veg patch for cutting but ended up planting it in the new borders either side of my greenhouse, where I thought it wouldn’t jar with the baby pinks and pale yellows of other plants nearby.
This is a very compact plant, not very tall and with bushy leaves. It’s therefore been swamped by the sunflowers and cosmos I planted alongside. This has certainly compromised the quality of the flowering and I have overlooked these flowers all summer.
Picked and placed in a vase alongside some white Michaelmas Daisies though, it’s easier to admire this flower. For people with small gardens and a penchant for pale tones, this is a good choice.
When I potted up my new dahlia tuburs last spring this one was the first to sprout. I did chuckle as the name suggested to me a cheeky street urchin – eager to find a way in the world. Certainly the flowers have a raggedy, shredded clothing appearance.
Having now given the matter a little thought, I’m wondering if the name is designed to describe a sea urchin as the petals are so spiky in appearance.
Either way, this is a fun dahlia, with a joyous bright colour and one that mixes well with other dahlias in a flower arrangement.
Dahlia ‘Sam Hopkins’
Of course I searched online to find out who Sam Hopkins is or was. He could be a welsh international rugby league player, or a photographer, or a business consultant or someone else entirely.
I suppose the origins of this dahlia’s naming are irrelevant because it’s beauty creates it’s own identity. It has a very blowsy, large open shape, the flowers being 15cm across. The petals are luminous pink at the edges with more raspberry centres.
It’s a good example of a dahlia with an incredible texture, difficult to capture on camera. Velvety is half way there as a textural description but when you stroke the petals, they feel cool and up close they simply glow.
Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’
I am fairly certain that this Dahlia led the charge in the resurgence of popularity in dahlia growing. I remember lots of chat about it on Gardeners World in the 1990s, the open face and attractive bronzed foliage were a point of difference between this plant and some of the less tasteful dahlias on the market.
I don’t know why I consigned these tuburs to the veg patch but they have performed spectacularly up there, smothered in flowers and loved by the bees. The pillar box red is my favourite thing about this variety and I think next year I will be brave enough to move it somewhere where it can be seen more often.
You can probably tell that Dahlias are my favourite flower – they are varied and colourful and provide so much material for flower arranging. If you’ve never grown them before, and you’re tempted to try, click here to read how I go about growing dahlias. I’ve also written about how easy it is to multiply the number you have by taking cuttings. Click here to read this.
Six on Saturday is a weekly meme – take a look at the comments at the base of host The Propagator to see more ‘sixes’ from other keen gardeners from all over the world.