People are used to having guilty pleasures. Be it a bar of chocolate or watching tv at night. For gardeners however guilty pleasures tend to be plants. And mine is dahlias. While many people will see them as a very old fashioned plant I think they are a fantastic flower and truly love when I come across a new one.
In the past few weeks I have come cross a lot of them as they are a flower that always proves very popular at horticultural shows because they are large and tend to stand to attention in a display. There was a great collection of them at Hampton Court Flower Show a few weeks ago and I came across a couple that I thought were very interesting.
And while I do often give out about the amount of pink in my garden I will concede defeat that the three I am sharing today are all shades of pink.
The first was Dahlia Arabian Night. This dark purplish pink dahlia has a lot of impact on the stand and I feel would have just as much impact if not more sitting happily in a flower bed. This one reminds me of a very similar one I saw in Huntingbrook Gardens a few summers ago and have wanted to get my hands on ever since.
Dahlia Clair Obscur has a fantastic pattern to its petals as it almost looks as if the colour is washing out of the petals as the colour transitions from a deep purple to pure white at the tips of each petal. This unusual colour would stand out in most flower beds and if planted in a large group it could have great impact.
Dahlia Franz Kafka is a truly amazing dahlia. It is unlike the other two and I feel would appeal to even though gardeners who do not like dahlias at all. The globe flower heads have a fantastic petal pattern which I will admit I spent a long time at the stand admiring.
When it comes to having dahlias in your garden the best time to plant them is in spring as the soil warms up and becomes workable. They like good free draining soil so it may be necessary to work grit into the soil to improve drainage.
In the early stages it is vitally important to protect the plants from slugs and snails as they can obliterate good healthy plants in a matter of hours. You should combat them in the way you find works best be it slug pellets, crushed egg shells or beer traps.
As dahlias grow tall it is important to protect the plants from wind. It is a good idea to add a support to prevent the flower heads from snapping. Even a bamboo cane buried into the ground and carefully secured to the plant will do the trick.
Dahlias are tender and because of this you should lift the bulbs each Autumn. As soon as the foliage begins to die back you can cut it to ground level and dig up the tubers. They should then be cleaned off and stored in a dry well ventilated area over winter.