Dahlia Memories

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.


Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

26 thoughts on “Dahlia Memories”

  1. Oh my! I just now commented on a blog that my two favorite colors in the world are yellow and red! And then I hop over to see you and there is that gorgeous flower with both of them in it! Thank you. You just made my day, Nancy!

  2. I’ve always meant to try dahlias, but never have. Maybe this will be the year. (Oh my, I just keep adding to my list of what to plant.) Adorable photo of you!

  3. I love the pic of you! Is that a dahlia on your blog header? It would be fun for me just because I so love P.G. Wodehouse, and one of Bertie’s aunts is named Dahlia. :<)

  4. *Brenda — I don’t think there’s a color combination that I *don’t* like. That is a bright and sunny combo there.

    *Rose — dahlias aren’t difficult to grow, really. They’re a little labor intensive, with planting and digging up in fall, but definitely have a huge pay off.

    * Nan — no, the photo in my header is of an Indian Paint Brush. It does look rather dahlia-like, though. :)

  5. Hi Nancy, thank you for the kind comments on my Blog, after 5 inches of snow at the weekend, I was just glad to get out this week and start taking some more pictures of Spring.

    Dahlias seem to go in and out of fashion, but I think they are great value for the late summer garden, and are so easy to grow and propagate.

  6. I think I am Dahlia challenged! I have yet to raise a pretty one. I might just try another one in a pot this year, though, after looking at yours.

  7. I’ve tried to grow dahlias a couple of times. Our Texas heat seems to fry them. Maybe they would grown here during the fall.

  8. I love the picture of you with the dahlias! What a wonderful memory to have. Thanks so much for sharing Nancy!

    My neighbours are avid dahlia enthusiasts, and are as passionate about these plants as I am about daylilies. I will have to get some pictures of those beautiful flowers this summer.Cheers!

  9. What a great memory! We didn’t do much gardening when I was a child, so I’m not too sure where I got my green thumb from.

    Gorgeous flower.

  10. Your dad sounds like my kind of gardener! Lots of nice bright colors. Love dahlias but hate digging them each year. Do you have to dig them there? This year I planted some red dinner plate ones in a pot, but sadly I lost my yellow ones over the winter. I made the mistake of leaving them outside on the porch-they rotted inside. I had them over 4 years. boo hoo! Good luck with your dahlias you really must make room for them since your dad grew them.

  11. Oh I love that photo of you! And dahlias are certainly one of the most beautiful flowers out there; I hope you find some space too :)

  12. I love the photo ~ I’m guessing that’s you?? What a wonderful memory. Here’s hoping you have dahlias in your garden soon. :-)

  13. I grew dahlias for a while but there was so much fussing in staking and overwintering the tubors that I gave up on them. I stil think about starting up with them again.

  14. What a beautiful photo of you! My first lawn job was for a man who planted single-flowered dahlias in a special bed every year. I dug the tubers each fall and stored them in boxes of sand in his garage. His planting trick was a trowelful of compost and a handful of bone meal in the bottom of each planting hole. I have great memories of working in his yard. Thanks for jogging them! And I hope you get to plant your own dahlias soon!

  15. It’s funny, I love dahlias too but haven’t grown any for a few years. It’s the fussing about with them, starting them indoors, then digging them up in fall–both really busy seasons for me and I just haven’t perfected that art of letting them stay in the ground and not be guilty about them. So I enjoy them in others gardens.
    I do hope you get to plant dahlias outside soon, Nancy. It’ll come, in time.

  16. Nancy, my dad is an avid gardener… not so much flowers but fruit trees and vegetables. What a wonderful inheritance you have from your dad. Memories of gardens and gardening as a child are so precious and fulfilling… really helps remind us where our passions come from I think.

    Am I remembering correctly this is the photo scene you shared with your daughter standing in front of the same fence?

    Dahlias don’t grow this far south so seeing your photos are a treat. Here’s to you being able to grow your own very soon!
    Meems @Hoe&Shovel

  17. Thanks once again for your many lovely comments — I appreciate each and every one. Dahlias will always be a favorite. :)

    *Jodi — I’ve always started dahlias directly in the ground once the risk of frost has passed. :)

  18. I remember my mother always growing dahlias each year as I was growing up. When I left home and was one my own, one year I noticed she didn’t have any in the garden. I asked why there were no dahlias and she said they just became too much trouble and (with money always being scarce) she felt it a bit too rich to lose money each year on the bulbs she did lose. I still have a great fondness for them. Yesterday while at Costco I almost picked some up to plant … but alas, I left without any.


  19. We planted a bunch of the common ones last year but as you mentioned they do take up a lot of space and shade smaller plants. The tuber looks so small but yikes, the plants are so robust.

  20. What a wonderful photo, Nancy. Your father was a tremendous gardener,no doubt. Was your mother the photographer? LOVE the photo! And…I love dahlias, too.

  21. What a great photo. I too have wonderful memories of Dahlia’s. Mine are very distinct scent wise, if I catch just the smallest wift of scent it brings them back vividly.

    My Mom used to grow them, she doesn’t garden anymore that much, lives in a apartment. But could she ever grow Dahlia’s.


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