It’s been raining and grey here for about the past week. There are three inches of rain in the gauge, all collected during the last few days. It feels like the sun will never shine again.
So, let’s look at something bright and colorful today. My dahlias are coming into their prime season, mid-October, and the extra rain is making them especially happy. I picked an assortment a few days ago to make a record of how these named varieties performed in my garden.
Above, from left to right: ‘Fire Magic,’ pale pink and white ‘Chilson’s Pride,’ Unknown—possibly ‘Fire Magic’ again, the very cool raspberry and white collarette ‘Bumble Rumble’
Above, from left to right: ‘Bumble Rumble,’ orange ‘Kabloom,’ purple ‘Optic Illusion,’ orange and white ‘A la Mode’
Above, from left to right: ’A la Mode,’ huge coral ‘Mango Madness,’ unknown yellow and unknown purple and white from hardware store grab bag
‘Kabloom’ has really stood out this year. Not only did it overwinter from last year, it was the first to flower and grew taller than me. Of course I should have pinched it, but I didn’t. Thus, it’s fallen over now but still continues to pump out these spiky orange blooms.
I really love the color, size (11″), and blowsiness of ‘Mango Madness,’ but its blooms are quick to fall apart.
Although all these dahlias are pretty, in general I think the previous two years were better dahlia years. Perhaps dahlias, being native to Mexico, didn’t appreciate our very wet, humid and relatively coolish summer. I had my first case of powdery mildew show up in the dahlias this year. And, I know they were too crowded in the garden. Everything was—that’s what happens when you decide to grow a corn patch and expand the dahlia planting in the same year. Some of my favorite dahlias from year’s past didn’t make it through the winter—their tubers got too dried out and died. So, I missed those this year but one of the most exciting things about growing dahlias is trying new varieties each season.
I am torn about whether to dig up these tubers and overwinter them indoors (properly this time, so as to not lose as many as last year) or let them overwinter in the ground. I suspect that if they stay in the ground they will get growing sooner next spring, but I also run the risk of losing them to the damp and cold. And, if I run the chickens in the garden again this winter, the birds may scratch and peck the tubers into oblivion. I haven’t decided yet—we’ll see. But in the meantime, and for these last few weeks before the first frost, I will be enjoying these bright and favored flowers.