Today’s photo gallery features images related to the column’s main topic. The images have been provided by the Monterey Bay Dahlia Society, and most (if not all) were created by MBDS member Brion Sprinsock. Thanks, Brion! The individual cultivars in these photos are unidentified.
The Monterey Bay Dahlia Society is preparing its 2023 show, to be presented in the Capitola Mall on Saturday (2:10-7 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
The society will present its second show of the year at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, from Wednesday, Sept. 13 to Sunday, Sept.17, 2023.
For the earlier show, the society will locate display tables in the middle of the Capitola Mall and around the central fountain from Sears to Kohl’s.
This will be an extraordinary exhibit of selected dahlia blooms with entries from dahlia society members from San Leandro, San Francisco and San Luis Obispo, as well as the host society of the Monterey Bay area.
Here’s a brief background about dahlias, extracted from a previous column.
The dahlia genus is within the Aster or Composite plant family (Asteraceae or Compositae), which also includes the sunflower, daisy, chrysanthemum and zinnia. The dahlia is native to Mexico, which has declared it as its national flower.
The genus includes 42 species. The familiar garden dahlia (the pinnata type) includes more than 50,000 cultivated varieties, reportedly the result of crosses of two species: D. coccinea and D. sorensenii. The genus also includes the spectacular Bell Tree Dahlia (Dahlia imperialis), which grows over 20 feet tall in my garden and can reach greater heights in its natural habitat.
Garden dahlias are bushy perennials, growing from tuberous roots to heights ranging from 12 inches to 6 feet, depending on the variety. They bloom in the spring, reaching their peak by late August.
Hybridizers have created a large and ever-growing number of cultivated varieties with many unique characteristics. Intense hybridization and genetic modification have increased the dahlia’s “inflorescence, forms of ray flowers, diversity of colors, size of individuals, and flowering time.” The result of the hybridizers’ diligent and enthusiastic work is a popular garden genus of extraordinary diversity.
Dahlias range widely in blossom forms, blossom colors and plant sizes. This invites creative uses of the dahlia in garden settings. The plants can succeed as a specimen among other plants and are most often displayed in clusters organized to showcase blossom forms or colors, or combinations of these characteristics.
The MBDS’s Annual Dahlia Show provides an excellent opportunity for local growers to share their accomplishments with other gardeners. It also is an annual occasion for gardeners to see the dahlia’s diversity, appreciate its beauty, and envision its contributions to their own gardens.
The MBDS holds its Annual Dahlia Tuber Sale typically in April of each year, which is the prime season for dahlia growers to divide tubers for replanting or sale, and of course for gardeners to add dahlias to their own gardens. While the sale includes descriptions or even photos of the plants that the tubers will create, the show is the time for gardeners to plan ahead.
Show visitors oriented to garden planning might prepare to take notes on specific cultivars they would want to add to their gardens, or on appealing combinations that they would create in their own landscape.
This year, the society has launched its Lonely Bouquet program as a unique way to spread the joy of dahlias and to attract visitors to the show.
Lonely Bouquets are flower arrangements (with at least one dahlia) that our members make up in a mason jar or similar low-cost vessel. They attach a small paper tag that tells whoever finds the bouquet to take it home and then email us back and tell us where its new home is.
The MBDS has created its Lonely Bouquet activity as an adaptation of the British Floral Association’s “Lonely Bouquet Day,” which was on June 25 this year.
One of the photos in today’s column is an example of a Lonely Bouquet from the MBDS. Visit www.mbdahlias.org/lonely-bouquets for Lonely Bouquet stories. The website also has information about the Society and the cultivation of dahlias.
Enjoy your garden!
Advance your gardening knowledge
To learn about dahlias, visit www.dahlia.org and pull down the “Grow and Know” menus. As you explore the wealth of information on this site, look especially at the amazing “ADS Dahlia Classification and Number Guide,” which can be found under Know/Classification.
Mark your garden calendar
The Cactus & Succulent Society of America has posted its webinar, “Unveiling Nature’s Artistry,” on YouTube. In this recent webinar, Evelyn Durst presents selections from her extensive archive of photographs of succulent plants. She uses her photographic equipment mainly to produce macro photos. Her images show how intriguing and sometimes bizarre nature can be. As photography can be creative and fun, letting imagination become visible, Durst sometimes also enjoys playing with post-processing techniques. Browse to https://tinyurl.com/bdetupt7 to view this recording.
The Monterey Bay Area Cactus and Succulent Society is preparing its 2023 Fall Show and Sale, to be held in September on Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th, in Watsonville. This event is a fine opportunity to add cacti and succulents to your garden, and to see dozens of outstanding plants exhibited by members of the Society. Details to follow in a future column.
Tom Karwin is a past president of Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and the Monterey Bay Iris Society, a past president and Lifetime Member of the Monterey Bay Area Cactus & Succulent Society, and a Lifetime UC Master Gardener (Certified 1999–2009). He is now a board member of the Santa Cruz Hostel Society, and active with the Pacific Horticultural Society. To view photos from his garden, https://www.facebook.com/ongardeningcom-566511763375123/ . For garden coaching info and an archive of On Gardening columns, visit ongardening.com for earlier columns or visit www.santacruzsentinel.com/ and search for “Karwin” for more recent columns. Email comments or questions to email@example.com.