Dahlias are the one flower I always cut… that and gladiolus, but the glads were planted late, so who knows if they’ll ever bloom!?growing dahliasThe “Plum Pretty” are my favorites, I like the curly cactus petals and the dark color.  The creamy “moonlight” bloom nonstop and the violet “Ooh La La” are nice enough (ok so they’re not my favorite).  The peachy-yellow are an older one from one of those Sam’s club mixes.  The more you cut, the more blooms will come up, so there’s sure to be another post or two of gratuitous dahlia color!

I made a trip down to Chanticleer this week.  It was beautiful and you can bet there will be MANY pictures posted.  Here’s a taste.  I was pleased to see this color combination, it’s similar to my salvia-verbena combo (that some people didn’t like) and I feel vindicated to see it used elsewhere… with a lot more green, I think the green calms it nicely.chanticleer I saw so many cool ideas and plants, it will be a long post or two… or three 🙂



I’m a sucker for a nice dahlia.  There are a few I overwinter each year, but one cold night last winter I broke down and committed to some new ones.  Here are the first of them, cut and artfully (hah!) arranged on the kitchen table.

growing dahlias

The three peachy ones towards the front have been with me for years, but the others are all new.  I got my new ones from Swan Island Dahlias, but you can do the same (maybe cheaper) at any box store or general bulb seller in the spring.  Mine all appear to be exactly as labeled, cheaper sources are sometimes hit or miss….. but if you just want a couple beautiful flowers, is a name that important?  They also look great in the garden.  Here’s “Moonstruck” which is the best bloomer so far.growing dahlias

“Plum Pretty” is already a new favorite.  I love the pointy petals of the cactus type, and these have a lighter bottom that shows when the petals curl.growing dahlias

“Pink Petticoat” is a little girly for me in both name and color but if pushed I’ll admit I like the two toned color and the smooth wide petals.  It also has outer petals that curl back around to the stem, and I think this is important for show quality blooms, but mine rarely go further than the kitchen!growing dahlias

Ok.  So I really like Pink Petticoat too.

I find dahlias easy to grow.  Most of mine are in the vegetable garden since it’s easier to plant and dig there, and I don’t do anything special as far as care.  A full sun spot, a little compost when planting, a bit of miracle grow if they look pale, and a stake to keep them upright, and you should be good to go.  That reminds me, mine are still unstaked…  another do as I say, not as I do moment 🙂

A day late and a dollar short

I go back and forth on overwintering tropicals and summer bulbs.  Last year was an up year.  I planted a bunch of cannas, elephant ears, dahlias, and banana plants in a new bed over at my mother in law’s.  The tropicals plus a number of tasteless, gaudy, bright annuals were all right up my alley.

tropicalismo garden

A little bit of tropicalismo in my Pennsylvania garden

The annuals were all seed grown and the tropicals were all little bits and sprigs that I keep over from year to year.  I overwinter the lazy way and some are ok with that while others…..

In short, the good gardener will check up on them around early February, add water to the dry ones, remove the rotted ones, air out the damp ones, just give them a general once over to carry them through the rest of the winter.  If you are not of the good gardener type you can still save most of your tropicals if you check on them around March 13th and give them a once over.  I think the yellow, crispy asparagus ferns may still pull through, now that they got a bit of water.

overwinter succulents

Tropicals hiding from the cold

The aloes and jade plant snuggled up against the dim (slightly heated) garage window are troopers and don’t need a drop all winter.

These are the bulbs and roots and tubers that I threw into bags and buckets.  I’m hoping for the best, but it’s tricky to walk the line between keeping them dry and cool enough to keep them dormant vs everything else that could go wrong.  Too wet, they rot.  Too dry, they crisp.  Too warm, they sprout.  Too cold, they freeze……

overwinter cannas

The ugly truth of my overwintering process

I guess I do just kinda throw them in a pile and hope for the best.  To do otherwise would go against my natural laziness.

Here are a few bigger pots, just rolled into the garage and allowed to go dry.  You wouldn’t think it but many tropicals will just “hang out” in the dim, cool garage until spring  (I did throw some water on these about a month ago).  The only one giving real problems is the fig which decided to sprout once it got water.  I really should have left that one outside.

overwinter tropicals

Geraniums….. probably shouldn’t have bothered.

overwinter geraniums

I won’t make you look at the coleus cuttings.  They’ve been in water on the windowsill since October and look worse than the geraniums.  In a week or so I’ll pot them up, take some geraniums cuttings and see what we can do with them.  It should have been done now, but I’m always running a day late and a dollar short.

Color in the Garden

orange and red flowers

Orange gerbera daisies in a cobalt blue pot, surrounded by red gomphrena. Classy.

Too much orange and red? I got it in my head two years ago to put together a red bed and this is the far end where the colors were a bit mellower. Gardeners are supposed to mature over the years as they gain a little experience and their plantings become more sophisticated. I must be developmentally delayed as this hasn’t happened to me in the over 30+ years since I planted my first seed. I still get suckered in by anything with a bright bloom.
Today as more bad weather keeps me inside I’m looking at dahlia websites. A few dahlias have nicer foliage but it’s for the blooms that you grow them. Not exactly a step forward in garden subtlety.

At least I’m not planning on adding more cannas….. yet.

Room for Vegetables


mixing flowers and vegetables

I read that this qualifies as companion planting.

This is a part of the vegetable patch….. believe it or not….. if you look closely you can see a few lettuce transplants towards the lower left. In my defense it’s a new part and maybe it’s best to grow flowers until I have a chance to build up the soil.