It's the end of the first week of November. No frost means that there are still Dahlias flowering on my field, although the stem strength is appalling, so they are no longer being cut.
They have however been fantastic this year, with few exceptions, so here is my review of the season, before I forget all the details, and just have the pretty pictures.
In the past, i've always removed all the Dahlias from the ground over winter and stored them, frost free in boxes with sawdust, covered in fleece. But now we've got the the point where there are A LOT of dahlias. So, last year we tried leaving some in. We cut them back at the same time as we removed the others in late November, and mulched them thickly.
Did it work? - Well yes, all the plants came back, although the winter was fairly mild with only 5 or 6 hard frosts, and no longer than a couple of days at a time of frozen ground. This summer, they were some of the first to flower, and they continued flowering throughout the season very prolifically. We tried leaving in Dahlias Evelyn, Preference, Cafe Au Lait, and Jowey Linda.
So you'd do it again? - Well yes and no. Those that we left in the ground definitely had smaller flowers than plants from new tubers, and a lot smaller flowers than those we grew from cuttings. So I wouldn't want to leave the same tubers in the ground for another year. However as a device to save some labour in the Autumn, I would risk it again with other plants that were in their first year. Plus some of my florists commented that the smaller flowers were a lot better size for putting in bouquets
So what about those grown from Tubers, how did they do? - Last year we had so many tubers growing on in pots in the polytunnel, that we didn't have the space or the time to go through them all and do a slug patrol. The consequence was that we had 40 or so plants that weren't worth planting out, because they'd been so badly eaten, that 's a lot of waste.
This year with slightly fewer tubers to pot up, and ensuring we did a slug patrol in mid May, we kept them in better condition. They were all planted out in the last week of May, but weren't flowering fully until the middle of August. Probably suffering from the lack of water this season in June and July. From Tubers, we grew more of the Evelyn, (but most turned out to be something else) Preference, Cafe au Lait and Jowey Linda, but also Karma Naomi, Karma Choc, Karma Lagoon, Karma Serena, Canary Fubuki, Nuit D'ete, Rocco, and Ambition.
This is almost the full range of what we grew
The real success this year though were the new to us varieties, and the ones that we grew from cuttings.
My Birthday present last year was a super dooper propagator,
After making do for years with propagators with no thermostatic controls, this was a fantastic boost to my ability to produce lots of cuttings, early in the season. The only shame being that at Easter I was invited to speak at the RHS London show, by then i'd potted on my cuttings, and moved them to other propagators in the greenhouse, and i forgot to turn it off before i went up to London. Please learn from my mistake that fried Dahlia cuttings are no good, and i lost 2 trays, so 30 cuttings.
However those that survived made amazing plants
This is Carolina Wagermanns. Sourced from Withypitts Dahlias, this is set to become a firm favourite, and although i only had one tuber to propagate from i managed to get 5 plants, and lots of flowers from it. It teams well with Jowey Linda.
Shooting star is also one from Withypitts. I wasn't keen because it is billed as "yellow" but here teamed with Canary Fubuki and Karma Serena, it looks beautiful
My new varieties from Tubers were (anticlockwise from top left) Dark Spirit, Wine Eyed Jill, Karma Serena and Crazy Love. All good enough to grow again, particularly Crazy love, which Emma Davies took quite a shine to (large amounts of photos of that one)
The propagation from cuttings will also come in handy for this variety, which came to us labelled as Evelyn, but isn't. Anyone know what it is?
So will i grow the same ones again next year?
My pale colours of Cafe au Lait, Evelyn, Preference, Karma Serena, Tu Tu and Waterlily white were all great this year. - With my unknown pink, and Crazy Love that is a brilliant selection. I had a few Sugar diamond last year, which seems to have gone missing and needs to be replaced, and i might need a salmon pom pom to complete the colour set.
The Deep dark colours of Nuit D'ete, Karma Choc, Karma Naomi and Dark Spirit are all fabulous, but a few of the large headed Rip City would be a good addition.
and for the Jewel colours, i'll stick with the bright pink of Karma Lagoon, Jowey Linda, New Baby and Ambition, but i need A purple, and Rocco is too small and too much hard work, - Any suggestions for me?
In the next couple of weeks they'll all be lifted from the ground and stored in the barn, or maybe i'll leave some in the ground........