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  • Writer's pictureLynn Cordall

Looking ahead...…Dahlias

The RHS Chelsea flower show has, not not unsurprisingly, been postponed until Sept 2021. Fingers crossed, vaccines will have been had and everyone will be up to wondering down main avenue and looking at some amazing gardens. This year, you may be able to stroll up main avenue, as capacity will be limited to 30-40% maximum of the usual. In truth, Chelsea is a show I usually watch on TV - the crowds are just too much. Actually having the space and time to view the gardens properly, is practically impossible - even on the RHS members day.

I'm mainly interested to see what happens to the planting design. The palette in September is very different to end May. The below photos of the fabulous long border at Arley Hall (in Cheshire, do visit it numerous times in a year to see its metamorphosis), sums up the differences.

Out will be the alliums, delphiniums, blues, soft pinks and lime green foliage of May / June, and in will come grasses, hot colours and dahlias. Dahlias. Yes. Those flowers you Grandad used to grow (I'm old, so it was my Dad. For flower shows. And Chrysanthemums. its in the genes....I had no choice really).

So Dahlias. Mmmm. Well, they are actually very on trend, and have been for a while. Truthfully, they are quite breathtakingly beautiful. Beauty can be in the eye of the beholder, so they can be Bet Lynch or Grace Kelly. Which ever you like, its time to forget the image of old men on allotments growing them in straight rows. Don't believe me? Check out Arthur Parkinson on Instagram. He's 25, and has over 40,000 followers due his love of chickens, cut flowers and many, many dahlias. He even has his own collection sold at Sarah Raven.

(…and 2 books and an appearance on Gardeners world).

They are very easy to grow and can be stored for next year, and will get bigger each year. I'm not going to go into how to grow them, there are lots of guides online, but about now is teh time to start them off.

Here are some of my favourites used in combinations. Dahlias are long day plants - i.e. need lots of daylight, so these will punch out of your birders and pots from late summer until the first frosts.

The rich reds and dusty oranges mix well with grasses, cannas, crocosmia, bronze fennel. The pretty pinks look great with cosmos.

Here's what I'm growing this year (below). I have a love / hate relationship with Dahlias. I love them but I live in the damp North West, and have a very healthy population of slugs and snails. So this summer, as I won't be going away and leaving them to be eaten overnight when unattended, after a 5 years hiatus, I'm going for it again.

This is a collection from Sarah Raven, and I'll be growing them in pots and putting them with orange crososmia, and grasses, both green and bronze. . They are from L-R, Dahlia Tamburo, Happy single Romeo and Soulman. Didn't say that had great names...….but go on, give them a go and wait for the lovely late colour

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