Dalliances with Dahlias

In recent years the self-effacing dahlia has undertaken a gardening renaissance. The dahlia spent many years out of fashion, with gardeners struggling to come to terms with the fact that it is difficult to mould into an appealing plant combination. However, a new breed of adventurous gardener has helped bring the dahlia back to the forefront of gardening fashion.

The dahlia, originally from Mexico, grows in an array of dazzling colours from lava red to powder yellow and can even grow multi coloured. Fergus Garret, head gardener at Great Dixter explains the dahlias’ resurgence:

“The dahlia has come back with a vengeance. Colour is considered cool and all of a sudden gardeners have become adventurous.  Single dahlias’ elegant in flower and with graceful foliage seem to be the most acceptable of all…”

The single flower dahlia is the most resurgent type, especially as they blend effortlessly into a wider presentation, and they give colour from mid-summer to first frost. Dahlias are effective in front of crocus’ or fiery cannas and those plants with lime green foliage such as helichrysum and nicotiana.

Dahlias grow to varying lengths to suit your gardening needs. The larger flowers such as the Dutch grown Happy Single Series will grow up to 70cm and grow in up to seven different colours, ranging from orange to purple. Smaller flowers tend to come from New Zealand, with the Mystic Series being the highlight.  They grow uniformly, allowing you to have a consistent row of flowers if you should so wish.

The dahlia has made a significant return to our garden centres and national gardens, and the pink dahlia Mystic Dreamer even the star of the show at Hampton Court 2008. Thanks to the stunning array of colours, sizes and continuous flowering, it looks like Britain with by dallying with dahlias for some time yet.

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