THE DAHLIA BORDER

Dahlias have become very popular during the last few years and many people like to have special borders devoted to their culture. Many parks devote quite large areas to dahlias today, and I have found these beds just as popular in the north as in the south. Dahlias can be divided up into groups, for instance the Singles, the Anemone-flowered, the Collarette, the Paeony-flowered, the Giant Decorative, the Miniature Decorative, the Pom-pom, the Cactus, the Semi-Cactus and the Miniature Balls. Most dahlia catalogues show quite clearly to which group particular varieties belong. Sometimes they show this by the letters ‘C meaning Cactus, ‘SC semi-Cactus, ‘D’ Decorative and so on.

Dahlias like to be planted in an open poistion where they can get full sun. The ground in which they are to be planted should be dug over, and dung or well-rotted vegetable refuse should not be added at the same time. This should be given as a top dressing early in June. The planting cannot be done till all danger of frost is over but it is quite convenient to mark the position of each plant with a small tick beforehand. The strong decorative or cactus sorts will need to be 1.2 m (4 ft) apart. The pffiony-flowered, small decoratives and collarettes 1 m (3 ft) apart, with the dwarfer varieties of these types 600 mm (2 ft) apart.

The bedding dahlias will only need about 300 mm (1 ft) of room. The gardener’s aim should be to have such a mass of bloom that it hides the soil below. Dahlias should always be planted firmly and if the weather is warm and dry each plant should be watered in. Do not give the plants any nitrogenous fertilizer. Work into the top 50 to 75 mm (2 or 3 in) of soil bone meal at 105 to 140 g/m2 (3 to 4 oz per sq yd) and wood ash at 280 g/m2 (J lb per sq yd).

Stake the varieties early with strong bamboos, but in such a way that the foliage hides the supports. The dwarfer varieties may be supported by the use of dwarf pea sticks put in among them as they are growing. When the plants are in full flower, it is quite a good plan to feed with a liquid manure say once a fortnight.

Dahlias will continue flowering till they are cut down by frost in the autumn. The old stems should then be cut to within 150 mm (6 in) of soil level and the roots lifted carefully with a fork. The tubers should be dried thoroughly before storing. They may be placed in boxes having been well labelled first and are then usually covered with sand or dry peat. The usual plan is to place them stem downwards to prevent the moisture settling round the tops of the tubers at the base of the stem where the dormant eyes, which will produce next year’s shoots, are to be found. Dahlia roots should be stored during the winter in some building which is dry and frostproof.

VARIETIES

There must surely be thousands of varieties of dahlias and I can do no more than mention a few of my favourites. Every year new varieties are introduced and those who are keen on dahlias should obtain catalogues from the specialist dahlia nurseries. To remind you, the abbreviations are as follows:

(Col.) Colerette, (S.S.C.) Semi-cactus small, (P.F.) Paeony Flowered, (G.D.) Giant Decorative, (S.D.) Small Decorative, (S.C.) Semi-cactus, (C.) Cactus, (M.S.C.) Medium Semi-cactus, (M.C.) Miniature Cactus, (P.) Pom pom, (B.D.) Bedding Dahlia.

Ht. (m)

Amethyst (S.D.) Nearest to blue dahlia 1.3

Andreas Moderna (M.S.C.) Salmon-yellow 1.0

Baby Royal (M.C.) Pale rose-pink with apricot shadings 1.3

Beauty of Achsmeer (M.S.C.) Deep Salmon, darker centre 1.3 Bishop of Llandaff (P.F.) Rich Scarlet, darker centre

foliage 0.6

Border Princess (S.C. Dw.B)

Chimboraso (Col.)

Colonel W. M. Ogg (G.D.)

Corydon (S.D.)

Chirrup (S.S.C.)

David Howard (Min. D.)

Doris Day (S.C.)

Daily Mail (G.D.)

Curtain Raiser (M.C.)

Ehrenpreis (M.S.C.)

Evelyn Rumbold (G.D.)

Hamari Saffron (M.S.C.)

Florissant (Col.)

G. K. Moltke (S.D.)

Gina Lombeart (M.S.C.)

Hamari Boldness (L.D.)

Good Intent (Min. Ba.)

Jhr. Van Citters (P.)

Jocondo (G.D.)

Knightsbridge (M.D.)

Lemon Beauty (Charm.)

Little Conn (P-)

Little Wills (M.C.)

Maureen Creighton (B.D.)

Mrs J. C. Sowton (G.D.)

Neil Lewis (S.D.)

Muriel Gladwell (S.S.C.)

Polly Peachum (S.D.)

Prairie Fire (S.D.)

Pwll Coch (S.S.C.)

Pink Mark (G.D.)

Quel Diable (M.S.C.)

Raisers Pride (M.C.)

Rotterdam (H.S.C.)

Sally Jane (S.D.)

Scottish Import (S.L.)

Swiss Miss (Min. Ba.)

Trelawny (G.D.)

Trendy (S.D.)

White Swallow (S.S.C.)

Winifred (S.D.)

Yes Sir (M.D.)

Ht. (m)

Salmon bronze

Maroon and yellow

Cream sport from Major

Messervy 1.1

Clear Salmon, strong stem 1.0

Magenta rose tipped cream 1.0

Deep bronze, leaves almost

black 1.0

Cardinal red 1.0

Large yellow and orange … 1.3

Salmon orange 1.2

Fine salmon-rose 1.1

Fine lilac-purple 1.2

Saffron-yellow 1.3

Pink with white edge 1.2

Lovely shade of salmon … 1.0

Salmon and yellow 1.2

Deep velvet red 1.3

Clear lavender 1.0

Old gold tipped bronze-red 1.0

Bright reddish-purple 1.2

Golden yellow 1.3

Lemon-yellow 1.1

Crimson-scarlet 1.0

Fine orange-amber with yel

low centre 1.0

Fine double scarlet 0.5

Large pinkish cinnamon … 1.0

Orange-yellow 1.2

Tomato juice colour 1.2

Purple overlaid rose 1.3

Signal red 1.2

Scarlet red 1.0

Fine cyclamen-pink 1.0

Deep orange 1.2

Salmon-pink 1.3

Crimson-red 1.2

Pink and creamy-yellow … 1.2

Crimson-red 1.0

Pink tipped white 1.0

Lovely bronze-red, huge … 1.3

Yellow and cerise 1.0

Pure white 1.0

Very bright red 1.0

Lilac pink 1.3

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