Thinking Ahead

Many thanks to all of you for the best wishes forwarded to my Mum on her 90th birthday – I am hoping she will read them for herself on last Monday’s post. Not surprisingly our few family days together in Edinburgh were all the more special because of the auspiciousness of the occasion and with the coming together of several generations.

Back home later on Monday, it was clear that the chilliness of Edinburgh had been surpassed by temperatures here in the Midlands, with my greenhouse registering a minimum of -2.6ºC and plenty of evidence of the effect of heavy frosts – especially ‘Red Dragon’ who has given up for this year and flopped and, not surprisingly, all the dahlias.

IMG_6281The dahlias have all been lifted now and are drying out in the greenhouse alongside the few fuchsias and pelargoniums which were brought inside just before we went away. The greenhouses are rapidly filling up, the smaller one already chocabloc with seedlings and the larger one still home to some less hardy chrysanthemums. Joining them will be some of the contenders for Younger Daughter’s wedding posies for her April wedding.

IMG_6278Supplementing the red, white and blue Anemone de Caen (Hollandia, The Bride and Mr Fokker) and thus increasing my options are Tulipa ‘Linifolia’, Narcissus ‘Bridal Crown’ and blue muscari, making up my very late second order from Peter Nyssen. Thanks to a helpful prompt from Julie of Peonies and Posies I also arranged a late second order from Owl’s Acre sweet peas – having already sown two varieties of their ‘winter flowering’ sweet peas some weeks ago there are now scarlet, blue and white varieties too. Julie had some of these sweet peas flowering at the end of April last year and although I am later sowing them than I would have liked it does give some more options.

IMG_6280It is so hard to judge when things might flower but of course I couldn’t NOT rise to the challenge of growing the flowers myself! Some will be planted outside and some in pots in the greenhouse, with only a small degree of staggering of planting times because of the lateness of the season. I shall keep you posted of their progress!


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18 Responses to Thinking Ahead

  1. Cathy, how do you protect your dahlias over the winter? Mine looks like yours now–black rags! I usually cut them back all the way to the ground because the dahlia stems are like little open poles of water that can go straight down to the tuber and rot it when it rains. So, I cut right to the edge of the ground, cover with plastic and then a thick layer of mulch and leaves (which then goes all over the area as nice rotted compost in the spring.) That said, I always wonder what other gardeners do…maybe there is a better way? Dahlas can be tricky if you leave them in the ground and don’t dig them up. Digging up is probably best but very time consuming and the new plants get a very late start having to start from scratch. What do others do? I’d love to know….A Dahlia Lover.

    • Cathy says:

      As this is my first successful dahlia year I am certainly no expert but I do lift mine although many UK gardeners don’t but just mulch them well. We have had two mild winters and there is no way of guessing how cold this one will be so I will not risk it but tuck them up inside for the winter. They are now drying off in the greenhouse for a little while before I tuck them up for the winter

  2. Brian Skeys says:

    We still haven’t had enough frost to blacken the dahlias here. This is an important time of year in the garden for planning and thinking ahead to produce next spring and early summer show.

    • Cathy says:

      I guess the cold was coming from the east so hit our village before yours – our neighbour said temps dropped very very suddenly

  3. rusty duck says:

    I came home this weekend to blackened dahlias too. I dug them up today but a piece came off one of the tubers. Will it survive do you think?

    • Cathy says:

      The piece? I would probably keep the piece with the plant and plant them up together next year unless it was a particularly chunky tuber in which case I probably wouldn’t bother – I suppose if it sprouted you could have another plant if that is what you wanted

  4. You are so lucky to be able to celebrate with your mom on her birthday; my moms birthday was yesterday, she turned 94.

    • Cathy says:

      We still have to travel to meet up with our Mum, but distances are not as great in the UK of course, although my brother came over from Dubai this time! How far away does your Mum live?

  5. Christina says:

    Good luck with THE project! I’m glad Julie was able to give you some advice. Good luck.

  6. I always leave my dahlias in the ground, worth the losses for the early start. I live near the coast in Hampshire, so not too frosty. I cut off blackened stems too and cover with a cloche and hope for the best. Belated ‘Happy Birthday’ to your Mum, I love family gatherings like that.

    • Cathy says:

      How much start do you think it gives them, Jackie? Perhaps I will try keeping some outside next year, or split tubers and hedge my bets’.. 😉

    • Hi again, I’m just reading this to see if others will contribute specific information and help about the dahlias. I usually do as Jackie does and leave ours in the ground well mulched because our weather is usually mild, on the western (ocean) side of the mountains. It usually works out brilliantly, but a “one-off” hard freeze can kill them. Like Jackie, I love the early start. The year I took mine out of the ground…no blooms until late August! Happy b-day to your mum. We had our mother until 97 years old, many lovely celebrations! Your gathering sounds wonderful.

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Susan – with our variable winters in the UK it seems to be personal preference but I am reconsidering after reading Chloris’ comment…

  7. Anna says:

    Glad to read that the party went well Cathy and what perfect timing with regard to the storms that have been battering Scotland of late.

  8. Chloris says:

    How lovely to celebrate your Mum’ s 90 th, what a great occasion.
    Trying to get things in bloom for a certain day is very hard, that is why growers produce so many plants for Chelsea. It I can see you are going to gave a lot of fun working for this wedding.
    I never dig my dahlias up, I am convinced that it is winter wet rather than cold that kills them. I cover them with several layers of newspaper and then mulch on top of that.

    • Cathy says:

      Not quite sure that it will be on the scale of Chelsea here – but I do realise I am looking forward to the challenge. What you say about the dahlias and the wet makes a lot of sense – if they are dormant then there is no reason for the cold to kill them unless they are wet as well. I might follow your plan next year – and certainly for ones in borders which is where I want to add some this next season. Thanks for pointing this out

  9. AnnetteM says:

    Lots of interesting information re Dahlias. I haven’t really had any success with them here. I have grown a few in pots and then dug them up and tried to overwinter in the garage. This hasn’t been successful at all as the garage is very damp and cold. I wonder if I might try keeping them in the ground if I mulch them well – I hadn’t thought of that.
    A belated Happy Birthday to your Mum! How lovely to spend it with her.

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