Dahlias

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I grow a dozen or so named Dahlia varieties in the garden and three or four up the allotment. For the last few years I have collected seed from some of them and sowed them in March of the following year. I grow them on and plant them out on my allotment around May. They start to flower only a week or two later than their named brethren. By last year I’d given up as much space as I was prepared to on the allotment so in the autumn I dug all but four out, shredded them and spread them back on the ground as a mulch.

In spring this year I planted out around sixty new seedlings, most of which are now flowering. Some were seedlings of named varieties, some were from an assortment of the earlier seedlings that I thought might produce interesting progeny. All were open pollinated by the bees that they attract in large numbers.

A single yellow with dark leaves has mostly produced single yellow offspring and a red and yellow collarette has produced a number of similar but inferior forms. Other than that they are pretty random.

I love the fact that I have no idea what I’m going to get until they flower. I love the effect they create en masse, all mixed up. The bees love them. It’s a very innocent, childlike pleasure that I think we all need just a bit of as we get older.

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11 thoughts on “Dahlias

  1. From seedling to flowering in one season? Or is there a whole year in between? You are quite the magician Jim. Are there bucket loads of flowers coming out from your allotment?

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    1. All the Dahlias were sown 15/3/2020. The trick is to keep them growing, not let them get hungry or potbound at any stage. I don’t cut many because the gene for long stems seems to be largely missing from my stock and because the singles go over so quickly they’re not worth having as cut flowers.

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  2. Gorgeous. I do the same. In many cases I think the children are more beautiful than their parents. And as you say, waiting for them to bloom is always exciting.

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    1. Plant cloning and the development of pure seed strains is all about taking the unpredictability out of growing and is accompanied by a subtle marketing of predictability as an indisputably good thing. I have to admit I confine the unpredictability to my allotment where it can’t cause offence.

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