Dahlia Daze


My little town within a city, Eagle Rock, is MAD about Dahlias. The biggest, oldest, fanciest, and somewhat haunted-looking house in Eagle Rock is on Dahlia street. The annual late summer street festival is called 'Dahlia Days'. And everybody plants dahlias.


I snapped a few shots as I rode my bike to the market the other day, and I passed by many others. They are so ... juicy. Statuesque. They almost look fake, but the bees buzzing circles around them clearly show you that they are very real.


I have never planted dahlias. My rule about plants is that I want at least three seasons of performance - I live in a climate that doesn't freeze, so I can demand alot. I've always thought dahlias were prima donnas - there's all this expectation for them to show up, and when they finally do, they show up with a bang. The leaves unfurl, shoot up, suddenly there are buds, and then WOW ... the FLOWERS! What divas - total scene stealers, these ladies.

But now I'm thinking, is that really so bad? A beautiful, beguiling dahlia is like a special guest star; the garden version of a cameo appearance by Greta Garbo (they had faces then!). With my insistence on toughness, drought tolerance and multi-season performance, am I throwing the baby out with the bathwater? As I look at these thick, petal heavy flowers, I start musing about interesting combinations I can make with them. I can see them rising up behind an Agave weberi, or mixing it up with a Salvia clevelandii. Why not take advantage of that sudden, dramatic appearance on the summer stage? Hmmmm...


I think I need to consider this plant. Who am I to be rigid and say no? I think I'll think about it.... I think.

Green thumb and plant shop proprietress Flora Grubb shares her horticulture tips over at Domino!