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End of September, 2017

Nothing better than the dahlias, but first a look at the boxes as of Sept. 21, 2017 (left) and some pictures from August & early September (right)
Later in September

Box 1 on Sept. 21
Earlier September & August

Box 1 with the tomatoes Sept. 13

Box 2 on Sept. 21: Olymic Flame (left), Cheyenne

Box 2 in early August

Box 3 on Sept. 21: empty (Coral Gypsy failed), Beach Bum, Enchantress

Boxes 3, 4, 5 in early August

Box 4 on Sept. 21: I'm a Hottie, Bluetiful, Midnight Moon

Box 4 on July 18

Box 5 on Sept. 21: Sunny (yellow, left); Excentric (pink, to left of roses, center),
A-peel ing--yellow, no blooms showing; behind A-peeling is Candlelight, just visible.

Box 5 on July 18

 
September 13, above. Photo on left: both "Sunny" and "A-peeling" visible, last box on right.
Last hurrah for the tomato vines
Dahlias in late September

A bug in Midnight Moon, the white/lavendar dahlia (left).
 
Olymic Flame, brilliant orange; Cheyenne, red, with pointed petals, left side of photo on right.
 
Sunny, with the gold center; A-peeling, flower group on right
 
Left photo: I'm a Hottie, left side top, and Bluetiful, 3 flowers on lower right side; picture on the right: Olympic Flame
 
The firecracker vine and the phlox

Roses have bloomed all summer.
 
The bed by the garage and walkway

Planting plan for 2017 Bed 1: no dahlias
Bed 2
Olympic Flame: orange
Cheyenne: red, with pointy petals
Bed 2
(Empty space where Coral Gypsy failed)
Beach Bum: pinkish with white tips
Enchantress: purple with white tips
Bed 3
I'm a Hottie: hot pink or fuchsia / large, lush, blousy blooms
Bluetiful: solid bluish purple
Midnight Moon: white with lavender touches / small 3" blooms
Bed 4, back row
Sunny: bright yellow / pointed petals
Candlelight: bronzy yellow

Bed 4, front row
Excentric: pink with yellow touches
A-peeling: soft yellow / rounded petals
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.
This year the plants came from Swan Island Dahlias in Canby, Oregon (see this link). This company owns the address “dahlias.com,” which is pretty good; call them at 800-410-6540; info@dahlias.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 some are as big as any we have grown in recent years.
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.
Wiki says:
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.”

9-09-17