A birthday dahlia, brightening the corner outside our kitchen window and a dazzling display at the Parc Floral. Dahlias carry the summer sunshine on into grey autumn days.
Each year over 100 new varieties of dahlia are grown in the Parc Floral’s dahlia garden and put to the test in the Concours International de Dahlias. Each variety is observed over two years to assess its distinctive qualities, its stability, vigour and disease resistance and the quality of its flowers. Each year one prize winning variety is chosen by the professional jury and another by popular vote. To ensure a fair assessment the varieties are not labelled; each plot is simply numbered.
(Click on any of the small photos for a larger view).
Maintaining the park’s permanent collection of over four hundred established dahlia varieties is a complicated task. The tubers all have to be lifted each autumn, to be stored over winter for replanting the following spring. The UK National Dahlia Collection, maintained at Varfell Farm in Cornwall, includes 1,600 different species and cultivars with an extraordinary range of form and colour.
For a gardener one variety may be enough, whether it’s a matter of space, as on our tiny terrace, or a matter of stylish restraint. A simple planting of subtly coloured dahlias has a lot to recommend it.