16 April 2009

oh oh: dahlias

At the end of March, I ordered more dahlias from Old House Gardens. B and I have decided to extend the dahlia bed the length of the chicken coop. They really seem to like that location.

I checked the tubers I dug and stored last fall in a peat-moss filled Rubbermaid bin in the basement (which stays at around 40°F), and they all seem to be doing fine. No rotting, no shriveling: Nice!

This year, in addition to Andries Orange, Bloodstone, Kaiser Wilhelm, Little Beeswings, and Yellow Gem (pictures from last summer here), I will grow (pictures and text from the Old House Gardens Web site):

Claire de Lune (1946): As elegant and wildflowery as the great Bishop of Llandaff, this sublimely simple collarette dahlia is named for Debussy’s romantic ode to moonlight. With a single row of soft yellow outer petals, a frilly ruff of white inner petals, and an eye like a harvest moon, it’s strong-growing in the garden and blissful in bouquets. 3 inches, 3–4 feet, from Holland.

Giraffe (1940): Giraffe is not just weird, it’s wonderful—and after years of limited, ‘web-only’ sales we finally have enough to offer it in our catalog. Its unruly, golden petals twist and fold forward to reveal back sides barred with bronze. Some see giraffes, others orchids or ocelots, but everyone agrees it’s not like any other dahlia—and it’s very cool. Cut a few for a vase so you can enjoy its rich complexity up close. 4 inches, 3–4 feet, from Oregon.

Winsome (1940): Winsome? No way! This stunner is as vividly colored as the most brilliant tropical fish. Its palm-sized, waterlily-like flowers are a deep, vibrant rose blending into a center of rich yellow, almost orange, as if the sun itself were throbbing deep inside. It redefines ‘antique beauty’ and will leave you breathless! Reintroduced by us from the British National Collection, 4–5 inches, 4–5 feet, from Oregon.

White Fawn (1942): Like white hydrangeas by a lakeside porch, White Fawn is cool and refreshing. If Vita didn’t grow it in her celebrated White Garden at Sissinghurst, she should have! 3–4 inches, formal decorative, 3–4 feet, from Oregon.


  1. Oh, I love that first one! How gorgeous! I've never grown them, but drool appropriately when viewing them at the nursery!

  2. Jared,

    I just received the package from Anna, for the Gardening by Letter project. Thank you so very much for participating, I am so happy to receive every ones, cards, and letters, and all the amazing items they sent along with it.

    Muddy Boot Dreams.

  3. I love Winsome, that is very pretty! I love dahlias, unfortunately I usually forget to dig them up in the fall. Luckily I have an old faithful that returns anyway.

  4. Anonymous12:18 AM

    I'm glad to hear the former dahlias made it through the winter. They are trouble but worth it.

    Love all the dahlias pictured. Gosh, the way you describe them makes me want to meet them. And they are tall too.

    Nothing compares to the barn though--:). You must never remove it from your sidebar.

  5. You got me with "Giraffe" !! ... now that is an eye popper ? LOL
    I don't have daliahs but these are very pretty indeed !

  6. Tessa, isn't Clair de Lune amazing? I'd never had any luck with them until last year when I set my mind to growing them correctly, and I had lots of great flowers by July. I hope I have similar luck this year!

    Hi, MBD! I trotted over to your site and saw your photographs of the offerings and all I can say is WOW! Lots of talent in that package you received!

    Catherine, of course, now I'm interested in the one you have that keeps returning. Do you know what variety it is? I think Winsome will be even more intense in person.

    Anna, I will NEVER remove the barn. I took more pictures of it last week and have yet to format them for the slideshow. Storing the dahlias was actually not a lot of trouble. Lucky for us we have a very cool, dirt-floored basement, so I don't worry about them at all after they're down there. Gotta bring the rain lilies up this weekend...

    Joy, isn't Giraffe a hoot? It's another, like Winsome, that I think will be fun to see close up and face to face.

  7. Anonymous9:09 AM

    Winsome is gorgeous! Is there a dahlia that isn't? I can already imagine a pitcher of these beauties sitting on your kitchen table. :)

  8. I'm not sure of the name, it's a deep maroon and a very full flower (terrible description), and it gets to be about 3 feet tall. I'v had it about 4 years. I'll share a picture of it when it blooms although we had such a cold winter I hope it survived.