For years I disliked dahlias; I didn’t like the smell and I associated them with the regimental rows of garish colours where earwigs lurked in my grandmother’s garden. I started a few years ago with the fashionable ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ and from there decided dahlias were OK as long as they were deep, velvety red like the almost edible ‘Karma Choc’ so I grew a few from seed trying to get ever darker children. You can buy some lovely, dark red dahlias though so I gave up trying to breed my own.
My latest dark one is the sultry ‘Dark Desire’.
The fire engine red ‘Murdoch’ is also a favourite.
Then I fell for the over- the-top charms of the monstrous Dahlia ‘Café au Lait’.
Last year I acquired its relative ‘Café au Lait Rose’.
Another flamboyantly, gorgeous dahlia is the ghostly white, fimbriated Dahlia ‘Tsuki Yori No Shisha’ which translates as ‘Messenger from the Moon’.
I am not particularly keen on cactus dahlias but I do have the semi cactus, ‘Ambition’ because it is such a lovely deep purple.
And I had to have the dinner plate deep purple ‘Thomas.E. Edison’.
Another giant decorative dahlia is the sturdy ‘Labyrinth’ which is a glorious, peachy confection of swirling petals.
The anemone -flowered ‘Mambo’ is unusual.
But I have a weakness for single dahlias and they are the ones the bees prefer. The ‘Honka’ series comes in various colours but they are all single with reflexed petals. This one is ‘Honka Fragile’.
Dahlias with dark foliage are always attractive and I have several dark-leaved bishops, but the one I particularly love is ‘Waltzing Mathilda’, the colours are so peachy. Here she is waltzing her way through the dark blue Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’.
So far I haven’t mentioned any colarettes, these are dahlias with flat petals and a collar of florets at the centre. Here is one called ‘Night Butterfly’ and she seems to have strong genes because she has bequeathed her distinctive flowers to many of her seedling in my garden.
And that is what I really want to show you today. You can see the above dahlias in any catalogue but my babies are unique to my garden. If you start off with a varied selection of dahlias, then growing your own from seed is endlessly fascinating because you never know what you will get. And of course it is addictive. If you sow them early they will bloom the first year and each succeeding year they get better and better. These red, year- old children are taller than me.
They look lovely en masse.
Most of the seedlings are single or semi double. I have the odd anemone- flowered one like this child of ‘Totally Tangerine’
There are lots of ‘Honka ‘ children with slender reflexed petals. The yellow one surprised me because I don’t have any yellow dahlias.
I have loads which have inherited the collar from ‘Night Butterfly’, some tidier than others.
I wish I had time and space to show them all to you but as I probably have about sixty dahlias it is not possible. So just one more and it was a total surprise as it is a cactus-type dahlia and I don’t understand how the bees pulled this one off.
I will finish my paean to dahlias with three vases showing the range of colours of my babies. I am joining in with Cathy’s meme ‘In a Vase on Monday’ and I hope she will forgive this long-winded introduction to my vases. As you can see I am a little obsessed After all what else gives you so much colour for the whole of the summer?
If you go over to Rambling in the Garden you will see what other people have found to put into a vase on this last day of the summer. And thanks to Cathy who, come rain or shine never lets us down.