Archive | dahlias

Dazzling Dahlias



I could not finish this season without a blog about dahlias. They have always held a special place in my heart being the first cut flower I ever grew, back in my early 20s. I was captivated by their saturated colour and impossibly perfect forms and have grown them ever since. I also love their productivity, anything that responds to being picked by producing more flowers has got to be a winner. They are a controversial flower; you either love them or hate them. I think a lot of people say they don't like them because they associate them with earwigs and garish rows of flowers on the allotment. I always say "there is a dahlia for everyone" and will do my best to convert any dissenters by showing them every shape, size and colour in our dahlia beds which house about 80 varieties. Dahlia breeding has come a long way since being Grandad's favourite, with smaller, more delicate shapes and colours working well in mixed borders. I favour the Karma range, a relatively new strain bred by the Dutch for the purpose of cutting. They have lovely long stems, are mostly waterlily in shape and have a longer vase life.


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We have just been lifting a few hundred tubers this week which need to be divided and relocated next spring to free up the spanish tunnel for more roses. The tubers are drying off (upside down) for a couple of weeks before they get stored in the barn in crates of compost over winter. In the other dahlia bed I have left the tubers in with about 70cm of compost and straw on top. It worked well last year despite geting down to minus 20.

I have had some really good whites and creams this year for all of our weddings. I have always found white very difficult in dahlias as it is prone to weathering very easily, but 'Eternal Snow' and 'Nathalies Wedding' (both waterlily shapes) remained pristine and featured in many bouquets this year.



I will keep an eye on the tubers for rot through the winter months. In February/March my favourites will come out of store and on to a heat mat to get them to shoot. These will provide cuttings for plants to sale in late spring.


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Many thanks to everyone who came along to our NGS Open Day, it was a great success and together we made nearly £1500 for charity!  We even had special guests along this time, with some representatives of the Sonning Common Ukelele Orchestra to entertain us.


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Jo was working her usual magic in the flower studio…


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Many thanks also to our willing band of helpers, Graham (Dad) on the door, Marian (Mum on staff catering), Irene (plant sales), Sally (plant sales), Liz (Mum on washing up) and our neighbourhood catering team (Vicki, Peter, Clare and friend).


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In the Best 50 Florists!

We all had a spring in our step this week after being listed in The Independent's 'Best 50 Florists'. We could not resist a link to the article on the homepage. It feels like quite an achievement after only three years in business and a validation that there is a growing movement towards using British grown, seasonal flowers.

I seem to be busier than ever, juggling course, wedding and mail order enquiries alongside all the jobs in the cutting garden.

 So I have just pricked out the first batch of stock seed, as you can see you have to look pretty closely to see the difference between the ones you want and those destined for the compost heap. As soon as they were in their plug trays I sowed another batch, successional sowing is key to keeping up a steady supply of gorgeousness!


I had an extra large order of dahlia tubers arrive from Holland last week and immediately set about potting some of them up for propagation. I have put them on a heat mat in our new prop room (a converted stable) which will probably be dedicated solely to raising dahlia plants to sell and grow on to replace all the ones I optimistically left in the ground last autumn. I have ordered a high proportion of the Karma dahlia range this year, these were bred by the Dutch specifically for cut flower use. They are water lily shaped, with lovely long stems and an excellent vase life. Anyway, hopefully my potted tubers will be shooting in about a month and I can take about three basal cuttings from each, any more can exhaust the tuber as well as me the propagator!

GreenandgorgeousSG (43) 

I picked my first bunch of anemones from the polytunnel yesterday, what a joy. They will be coming thick and fast soon, hopefully in time for Mothers Day.