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September 4, 2017 - Labor Day
George grows dahlias and other flowers and plants in raised beds that he started building in the early 1990s. For some views, please take a look at this link to pictures from early April 2017. We have pictures there going back to 1985, the year we moved into the property. The beds as they look now George built in 2006. In 2017 we replaced one, and we anticipate replacing another one or two in the coming year and adding a new one along the fence opposite the five beds we now have.
A welcome guest, eyeing the birdbath
In the garden
This year the plants came from Swan Island Dahlias in Canby, Oregon (see this link). They own “dahlias.com,” which is pretty good; call them at 800-410-6540; email@example.com.
George surveys dahlia offerings all year long and picks those we plant according to color and height. Blooming period is also a factor. We are learning to avoid those marked “late bloomers,” since, relative to other flowers such as zinnas, with which we have had great success, dahlias do not show color until late July or early August, and flowers that bloom later than that run up against an early frost date and so have a very short life.
This year we planted color groups together but have decided that it makes better sense to build contrast in each raised bed—yellow and red, white and purple, and so on. This was also the year when George started using tomato cages, inverted, to stabilize and contain each dahlia, and this has helped a lot. The plants are very tall, sometimes 4 or 5 feet, and they are very top heavy when they bloom, especially after rainfall or heavy dew. Stems break off and whole plants start to lean. The wide base of the inverted tomato cage has kept each plant stable, and this year some plants are about as big as any we have grown.
Our first dahlia year was 2012. The link for August 2012 shows some marvelous flowers, a mix of dahlias and zinnias that year. In 2013 we plants many more, and in every year since then George has refined the mix.
Dahlias grow naturally in climates which do not experience frost (the tubers are hardy to USDA Zone 8), consequently they are not adapted to withstand sub-zero temperatures.
However, their tuberous nature enables them to survive periods of dormancy, and this characteristic means that gardeners in temperate climates with frosts can grow dahlias successfully, provided the tubers are lifted from the ground and stored in cool yet frost-free conditions during the winter.
Planting the tubers quite deep (10 – 15 cm) also provides some protection. When in active growth, modern dahlia hybrids perform most successfully in well-watered yet free-draining soils, in situations receiving plenty of sunlight. Taller cultivars usually require some form of staking as they grow, and all garden dahlias need deadheading regularly, once flowering commences. [end of Wiki quote]
We have never been able to keep the tubers of the winter, lacking storage between 55 and 65 degrees, and we are happy to try out different colors and kinds of plants as the years go by. Tall and profuse, the dahlias put on a good show for weeks and weeks. Recently our recycler, who says he has been picking up recycling at our place for about 25 years, stopped to tell us how much he likes our “tall flowers.”
Sept. 6, 2017