Can there be too much of a good thing where flowers are concerned? Can you suffer from dahlia overload?
It may seem like that this summer for me. I love them. But sadly through the beast of the east and two seasons of neglect in our Somerset garden I had none of my own. Previously I had a lot which I boldly left in the ground. Year on year. But this year the weather and my inability to manage the garden beat me. I then beat myself for the neglect. But a new project and a new house and garden has been all consuming. But you already know that.
I have therefore had to rely on the generosity of other peoples gardens for my dahlia fix. Oh. And what a fix it has been. There have been open gardens – Jack Wallington and Alex and Joe ( The Gardening guys ). There has been Common Farm. And Instagram and twitter. A quiet start to the dahlia season and then. Boom. They were everywhere.
Well not everywhere obviously because there weren’t any in my garden. At all. Some people also struggled. Later blooms. Smaller flowers.
Yet look at his one. A big fat dinner plate dahlia as big as my head. Taken at Jack Wallington and Christopher Anderson’s open garden last weekend. Emory Paul. A dahlia I recall seeing at RHS Chatsworth last year and thinking. Blinky blonky blimey. Look at the size of that. Which I did and thought I want – no says Ian I think you mean you would like. Which I do and I will next year. Even if its just the one in a big pot on the terrace in Spain. It’s magnificent. But truth be told its never just the one. Never just the one plant. Never just the one trip. Never just the one bar of chocolate.
Jack and Chris opened their Clapham garden twice this year for London NGS, and I was pleased that I could make one of the two. Jack likes a dahlia or two. Or thirty three and grows most on his allotment and had picked a lot of the dahlias from there. ( Hint. Maybe an open allotment day next year!) I say picked but I think he stripped the allotment of all the blooms.
A bright blue sky always helps a photograph look better.
The varieties and colours were fabulous and not only did he fill a room with single stem dahlias he and Chris erected a dahlia arch over the front door, so there was no escaping what house was having an open garden day as you turned the corner.
Having watched an insta story the night before of Jack trying to put the arch up I wasn’t that hopeful to be honest. Sorry Guys! You had even turned the sound down so we couldn’t hear the angst. But patience is a virtue and it was brilliant.
Don’t ever go on that telebox programme Through the keyhole” guys. This room would give you away when they say ‘ who lives in a house like this’ Um. Must be Jack and Chris. I loved it but boy I was nervous. I stood at the edge and admired and took photographs. Too nervous to put my size nines anywhere near the flowers. I still wonder how Rumbles – the cat , not their nickname , doesn’t just go in and paw each single stem. Fred our cat would. One by one. I loved the dark red/black dahlias in the brown bottles. Recycling at its best there!
But just look at them. Gorgeous.
It wasn’t all about dahlias at their open garden – in the garden were Rincus, Jacks fern wall, coleus (sorry guys I am old and they are coleus to me), salvia, great seed heads on the clematis, shadows on the leaves of the banana and great foliage plants. But this is about dahlias. Just dahlias. There are more pictures of the other plants on my Instagram feed and Jack has a blog on the foliage plants on his feed.
Oh and course there was cake.
Another dahlia fest for me this summer were my days at Common Fam Flowers. A working flower farm. With rows of dahlias. Dahlias for picking. Dahlias for bouquets. Dahlias for weddings. Not just dahlias of course.
The thing about going there in the summer is that you are guaranteed a dahlia or two. To be honest it was Georgie who made me realise that I did actually like a dahlia. I ordered some flowers from her early on in our friendship and the bouquet included dahlias. I was hooked. Much more interesting shapes colours and styles than grown in my parents garden decades before.
Growing up my parents grew some. Not many. Pretty dull ordinary dahlias. Yes there are such a thing. I hated them. Always full of earwigs. Which fell out as you picked them. It put me off for years. I was sent to pick them to bring indoors. Which my parents always did – had flowers indoors – there was none of ‘ flowers are just for the garden’. That’s where i got my gardening habits from. Amongst other habits. Like talking constantly like my mother. Her deadheading obsession.
I digress. The dahlias of Common Farm Flowers never cease to amaze me. This year the Cafe Au Lait were and are stunning. Another one for my one pot dahlia on the terrace in Spain. Spectacular in arrangements or in a brides bouquet or equally gorgeous in a single vase. Such beautifully formed petals.
Now please dont think of asking me the names of all the dahlias. I know the names of three. The rest are either pretty dahlias, pink ones, pom-poms or cactus.
This one took my eye when we were preparing the flowers for a big wedding. 85 jam jar posies. 8 large arrangements for the table centres. Pew ends. A huge ball to hang from the ceiling. Garlanding. Buttonholes. Included in all but the buttonholes were dahlias. All colours. All sizes.
This is American Dream. And it is. A definite Dreamy dahlia. Sat quietly in a bucket I zoomed straight in on it. The flower was in the bucket. Not me. That would have been silly. And required a large bucket.
The petals shape size and form on Cafe au lait are just fabulous. I don’t mind that its not my usual big loud blousy colour choice. It’s just beautiful in its simplicity.
I was given a jam jar posie from Georgie when I called in last week which included dahlias. And a big fat Cafe au lait included. Not one. But two, lucky lucky. Worth a stop on my way to the cottage.
Here’s a few, just a few of this years delights. None of which I can take credit for – though the photographs are mine.
I think I maybe all dahlia’d out for this year. Is that a thing? I need to move on. I have.
To the bulb catalogues for tulips and alliums. For Canna and agapanthus. Tulips and alliums ordered already.
But I have one more wedding at Common Farm to help out with at the beginning of October and I am sure that there will still be blooming lovely dahlias about then. In the meantime I have made a list of what I would like to try in Spain next year. It has to be a short list. A very short list. But don’t tell Ian.