“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.”
– Georgia O’Keeffe
Are you ready for some serious eye candy? If you didn’t already love dahlias, I am sure you will become smitten after reading this post. Before we get to the gorgeous flowers, a bit of background information on these outstanding plants.
Dahlias are native to Mexico and were discovered by the Spanish Conquistadors. They are members of the same family as daisies, asters and sunflowers and are the national flower of Mexico. With more than 20,000 species in 12 categories which include the pompom, cactus, single anemone or peony forms, there are dahlias for every taste. Dahlias come in a multitude of colors: from white and pale yellows to oranges, reds and deep magentas and burgundies. They are exhuberant flowers from a few inches in size to the famous dinner-plate sized beauties. Dahlias are popular for flower arranging and for wedding bouquets. Some varieites have streaks, spots, stripes, variegation or frosted tips on the flower form keeping the flowers interesting with equally amusing names such as Wildman. In fact dahlias are the most popular flower for competitive growers. For the best growing success, The American Dahlia Society recommends buying tubers that have been tested and grown for your climate and soil type.
This summer I had the pleasure of returning to the Endless Summer Flower Farm in Camden Maine.
Owners Karen and Phil Clark graciously gave my husband and me a tour of the farm and shared their infectious enthusiasm for these flowers. In spite of the rain and the delayed growing season, the dahlias were dazzling.
The farm boasts 4500 plants and features 193 varieties of dahlias. All tubers are sold fresh and have all been tested in-ground on the farm. This year alone, the Clarks have added 20 new varieties. Join me on a tour of the Endless Summer Flower Farm and be dazzled too!
As every gardener knows, it will soon be time to dig up the tubers for winter storage. Dahlia tubers are frost sensitive and will rot if left in the ground. Even if you live in a warmer climate, the tubers will produce better flowers if they are dug up and divided. There are many methods suggested for storing the tubers and I have had various success with them. Essentially, the tubers are dug up after the first frost. The foliage is cut back and the tubers hosed down to clean off the dirt. They are left to dry overnight or up to a week. It is best to divide the tubers before storing. Make sure an eye is left on each tuber division. They should be marked with the name of the species, for identification purposes, once dry. You can use a sharpie marker to write directly on the tuber or label the storage container if single varieties are stored together. Some gardeners store the tubers in peat moss or wood shavings. Others wrap them loosely in newspaper to let air circulate. The 2 main problems are rot or dessication and I’ve experienced both. At Endless Summer Farm, I learned a new method of storage that Phil Clark assures me works best: storing the tuber wrapped in plastic cling wrap. This is the method I will use this year.
SARAN WRAP METHOD OF WINTER STORAGE:
Last fall I dug up some Carolina Burgundy tubers and stored them in newspaper. I did lose several tubers to dessication but was rewarded with some beautiful reblooms.
Captured in bloom this week at Chanticleer Gardens in Wayne, PA were these show stopping beauties:
I hoped you enjoyed visiting Endless Summer Flower Farm with me. You can visit their site to place mail orders for tubers, here. A very special thank you to Karen and Phil Clark for sharing their warm welcome to the farm. Happy dahlia gardening!