Dahlias, dahling

Dahlias are one of those flowers you either love or don’t love. People aren’t neutral about dahlias; they’re not that type of plant. A woman who once lived and gardened next door to me was wild about dahlias; she made them the backbone of her backyard every year. When she was moving to a smaller place, she gave me a bunch of dahlia tubers. I gave them away. (Don’t anybody tell her!) They always seemed overblown and garish to me. But I’m rethinking that these days. The reason, of course, is that dahlias are extremely frugal. So long as you dig them up over the winter and replant them in the spring, they’ll flower reliably year after year. That makes more sense to me the older (and stingier!) I get.

Besides, not all dahlias are the dinner-plate-size monstrosities my neighbor grew, so that they always seemed way out of scale in my small garden beds. The dahlias I like best, the “collarette” types, are actually quite petite and … well, no dahlias are really delicate, but at least they don’t scream at you. And there is something mesmerizing about the mathematical perfection of the bon-bon dahlias, like the one above, which is ‘Aurora’s Kiss.’ Generally, I’m a fan of the simpler, single dahlias, like ‘Appleblossom’ or ‘Bishop of Llandalf,’ but there’s no denying that this is a Kiss worth looking at. So: a belated New Year’s resolution–I’m going to try to cozy up to dahlias. This would seem to be the time to get serious about such an obliging plant.

Photo by Marktee 1 licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

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