Sunday, August 30, 2009

Late summer gardening, A(fter) D(ahlias)

Before I was introduced to dahlias, my late summer garden was a mere echo of its early spring glory: there was green, brown, a few flecks of color, and more green. Then a few years ago, my father-in-law asked me to babysit some dahlia tubers while he was away over the summer. Stunning flowers! I was hooked. Because my attempt to over-winter those tubers was an utter failure (for which my father-in-law graciously forgave me), now I treat dahlias as annuals and embrace the opportunity to try out different varieties every year.

This summer's garden is testing "Pink Princess," here sparkling against a backdrop of yews.

This "Karma Choc" is quite wonderful though, because of its dark flowers and stems, in a kind of weird David Lynch-ish way. The perfect accent plant: a little goes a long way.

At the opposite end of the attention-grabbing scale, this white semi-cactus "Karras 150" is the chorus member who stands at the back of the stage while other dahlia divas seize the spotlight. The supporting cast definitely has a welcome place, too.

"American Dawn" takes pride of place: unfolding here, the petal fronts are pinkish-coral and the petal backs are purple. The stems are almost black. Like the other dahlias in the garden, this one is about four feet tall. And also like the other dahlias in the garden, these need to be staked. I lost two of them due to a poor quality job.

After years of being considered declassé, dahlias are finally on their way to rehabilitation according to no greater authority than the London Times. Not a moment too soon!

No comments: