Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dahlia daze

Is this how dahlias should look during their winter hibernation?



These tubers' withered appearance sent me running to learn more about the world of dahlias . . . and what a vertiginous world it is! Dahlias in all shapes, sizes, and colors: flowers as large as a dinner plate or as small as a golf ball; blooms with exploding needle-like petals or rolled in a tight pompom; reds, pinks, yellows, and every color combination!

Overwhelmed by the factorial number of choices, I knew that I needed some hands-on learning: more dahlias will join the yellow- and pink-flowering plants that I'm hoping to return to the new side bed this spring. But which variety?

I started looking for a dahlia that blooms small but not too small ("Nicole C") . . . and that's orange, but not too orange ("Andrie's Orange") . . . and a little coral but not too coral ("Hamiton Lillian") . . . with color that's saturated but not too saturated--and, please, not too loosely petaled ("Baron Kati") . . .

I finally settled on an award winner ("Rose Toscano" from Lobaugh's Dahlias) . . .



But its shape seemed somewhat boring--too much like a zinnia--so I've added another ("Snickerdoodle" from Swan Islands Dahlias) with a more spirited presence . . .



. . . and then I caught sight of the sweetest little flower ("Matthew Juul," also from Lobaugh's Dahlias) and had to have that, too . . .



Happily, a single plant--or two or three--casts a tiny ripple in the vast ocean of dahlia varieties, so there will be many more to sample in the future.

3 comments:

diana said...

Excellent choices!

Jr's Fan said...

Did you plant the withered one? I have a bunch that I have overwintered that look like that, I am not sure if they have any life in them or not. I will wait and see if anything happens to them I guess. I hate to throw them out!! By the way, I came across your blog when I did a google search on "withered dahlias" !

Doctor Mom said...

A sorry situation when a garden site's best search terms include "withered" ;-)
No, I did not plant those tubers--they were hard and dry and devoid of any life stores. I'm not sure what went wrong but perhaps the peat moss should have been a little damp, so it didn't act like a dessicant, or perhaps I weakened the tubers by over-fertilizing. So many paths to failure . . .