Dahlias form some of my most vivid memories of gardens from my childhood. My Dad was a champ at growing them, as you can see from the photo. We had a tiny property at that time, and there weren’t a lot of funds for “yard beautification”, but my Dad always managed to enclose our small house with borders of lush green and rainbow colors. Cheery yellows, flamingo pinks, and a deep wine are the colors I remember best.
Dahlias grow from tubers — who’d think such exquisite and varied blooms would come from such homely roots? Originating in Central America, and native from Mexico to Costa Rica, dahlias were taken to Europe over 200 years ago. During the 1800’s, their popularity soared and hundreds of varieties emerged and were documented. There are currently 35 recognized species; the dahlia is a natural hybrid and developing new varieties has been relatively easy.
The Dahlia Society of Nova Scotia has an excellent section on how to grow these color-saturated beauties. There is also a photo gallery on their site. Here also is a link to The American Dahlia Society.
I hope, in the not too distant future, to have the space to grow these wonderful flowers of my childhood.