Dahlias (a flower) has become an important part of my life.
It all started in Spokane when I saw a dahlia garden at Manito Park, maintained by city personnel. The stalks were tall and the flowers were beautiful. So I tried to grow some at the parsonage at least two different years in Spokane. The tubers did not grow. I assume I planted too early and they rotted.
When I came to Stanwood, I may have mentioned this and Dave Huppert gave me seventeen (17) tubers for the garden at the parsonage. I planted them and they flourished. The next year I had 34 and I was hooked. I was able to share some of the flowers with residents at Josephine Sunset Home, where I was employed part-time as a chaplain. One woman had lost her short term memory capacity and could not remember my name, but some how she could remember that I was the “dahlia man”. It was a joy to share them with her and others. One young woman liked a specific flower so much that I named it after her. Nothing official, but that is the name attached to that beautiful tuber.
Eventually some church members learned of my interest in gardening and they donated the use of a plot 50 feet by 50 feet on property owned by members of their family. Their son operated a u-pick flower garden composed entirely of dahlias. Then he graduated from high school and his parents operated it for a couple of years. Then they offered the space to me. One year I had over 400 dahlias.
It was getting out of hand, so I have leveled off at approximately 350 dahlias, both at the “farm” and at our home.
When you plant dahlia tubers, you lay the tubers flat in the six inch hole with the eye up. So far, in the spirit of Dave Huppert, I give away my dahlia tubers, but I can dream. I divided three dahlia root clumps this past year (Colorado Classic) and got 76 tubers. At $7 per tuber, well, I can see how some companies or individuals make a living selling dahlia tubers.
One of my traditions, when I am in town, is to enter blooms into the community fair the first weekend in August. One year I entered a sunflower bloom that impressed me and it got a ribbon for “best in the show”. Some irony in that fact.
Dahlias also grow well in Alaska, but I never noticed them while living 33 years there. When we returned to visit, I saw some at Girdwood, SE of Anchorage, in front of the Bake Shop. Many items can be grown in the Matanuska Valley, including giant cabbage. I know they grow in the Midwest, but my sister-in-law was not successful growing them in the Arizona heat.
Dahlias come in fall colors (Earth tones): red, orange, yellow and in spring colors (Jewel tones): white, pink, purple. Some of my favorites are mixed colors. And then there is the very unique Rebecca’s World, where every bloom is a different color with degrees of burgundy and white. No one has explained how that could happen genetically.
If you want some, indicate size, number and color.