Now that the plan for the vegetable portion of the potager is fairly well in hand, it’s time to focus again on the flowers. A bit of thought was given to flowers way back in early October, when it was time to place an order with GEO in order to get a hefty discount. For curious folk that may have missed it, catch up here, “First Seed Order.” At that time, I was concentrating mainly on the snapdragons, violas and marigolds for the potager edgings and interior border, a few perennials to add to existing gardens, and beefing up the Cutting Garden. I still have a terrible time actually cutting flowers from my gardens, preferring to view the bounty of blooms in the borders. (To read more about that visit “I Just Can’t Cut It”) I thought having a designated area just for cutting, hidden behind the west potager fence would “cure” that hesitancy. It didn’t. I really enjoy seeing such a colorful border on that slope, and still only cut a bouquet when expecting guests. Now I’m thinking that if there are just SO MANY flowers back there, maybe I’ll be more inclined to cut. Plus, I’d already decided that more dahlias were needed for the potager’s interior borders as well as the Cutting Garden. (Dahlias are an edible flower, so they can properly be placed inside the potager fence.) So, here are the dahlias that will be contributing to the abundance this season…all shades of orange and apricot, of course. (If you are worried about monochromatics, fear not for there are white, blue, purple and yellow flowers to mix with the various orange shades!) For the sake of variety in a bouquet, on the off-chance that some are actually cut, there are a variety of flower sizes and shapes, and all were described as good for cutting. 1) “Crichton Honey” is a luscious apricot with 4″ diameter ball-shaped blooms. Some growers report that it is not as prolific as other dahlias, but with such gorgeous flowers, I’m willing to give it a space. I’m fascinated with the geometric forms of the ball dahlias. How can they be so perfect? 2) “Amber Queen” looks very similar to the previous dahlia, but its tidy blooms are only 2″ across. Smaller flowers are essential to any bouquet, and these look adorable. The plants are 4′ tall and very bushy, providing dozens of blooms throughout the season. 3) This cute collarette type dahlia is “EZ Duzzit” a soft apricot with yellow tones. Most of the photos I’ve found are less yellow than this one, but this one really shows the flower’s form. Height of the “bushy” plant is 4′. A favorite of bees, too. 4) This multi-toned beauty is “Gabrielle Marie.” With 5″ blooms that are apricot with a hint of lavender undertones and petals shading to soft-yellow toward their bottom, it should be a stunner. Also 4′ tall with strong stems. 5) I do love the collarette forms, and this little “Giggles” looks like it will be so much fun. Various shades of orange in 3 1/2″ flowers on 3′ bushy plants. 6) This is “Ginger Snap” a rich gold blending to caramel. 3 1/2″ “water lily” type flowers on a very branching 3 1/2′ tall plant. Supposedly very prolific and described as a florist’s dream! 7) “Gitty Up” doesn’t even look like a dahlia! It reminds me of the new puffy coneflowers that are all the rage. A circle of deep orange petals surround a pincushion of deep rust. Plants are 3′ tall. 8) “Jaden Charles” is a big 7″ bloom of soft gold shading to caramel. The cactus-type flower will offer quite a change from the other ball forms, if they aren’t so huge as to be overpowering in a bouquet. 4′ plants. 9) “Maarn” grows on 3 1/2′ plants that are reportedly very branching, with 4″ flowers of pure orange. This one was selected just in case #1 does turn out to have very few flowers. 10) “Peanut Brittle” is the final choice, described as a strong grower with dark stems. The 5″ flowers are caramel orange with a bit of lavender shading as well. It should look great with the verbena bonariensis that’s already in the Cutting Garden.
I’m very excited to see how each of these new dahlias performs, and if they are truly colors that blend with my palette. This year’s selections are coming from Swan Island Dahlias, only because I like to support as many companies as I can. Last year three dahlia varieties from Brent & Becky’s Bulbs were grown, and tubers of “Sylvia” (fantastic!) and “Karma Corona” will be replanted this season. (The third, “Tour de Monde” was just too red to be included again. I’ll take pots of it to our garden club plant sale.) Mixed with the perennial flowers that are already in the Cutting Garden, along with the tall annual asters, gomphrena, zinnias, and sunflowers that will be added, there should be enough flowers to satisfy both the beauty of the slope as well as an occasional bouquet!