Firstly, apologies to anybody who tried to leave a comment only to find that I had a corrupted database. Very annoying. But all fixed now…

This week, filling vases began with my cutting all available dahlia flowers. I am finding that the more I cut the longer the stems on the subsequent blooms, which makes them much easier to use in a vase. I actually had two really long stems this week, but as everything else was still bobbing around on a short stem, I still wasn’t able to achieve a really satisfying larger arrangement. I live in hope…

Having cut the dahlias, I wanted to make sure I didn’t just repeat something I had already done. So no crocosmia, no purple beech. Which quickly highlighted the things I have failed to grow, things I really need to make sure I have lots of for next year. Blue flowers – unaccountably missing, although some larkspur are just starting to flower. Euphorbia. I didn’t sow any Euphorbia oblongata because I hadn’t been planning on growing dahlias. Oops. The acid green works so beautifully with the dark rich dahlias that I love. I tried fennel, but it had gone over just enough to be looking more brown than yellow. Yuck. I wound up picking some Lady’s Mantle, also nearly going over, but which just about worked. Oh, and my Ammi majus failed, quite spectacularly. I have some Ammi visnaga bulking up nicely in the herb bed, but it isn’t anywhere near ready for cutting, and all my other umbellifers are either over or too immature to have flowered this year. So, no blue, no acid green, and no white umbellifers. All of which are really valuable in a vase.

I ended up filling two vases, or precisely, jugs, whilst simultaneously talking to the BT engineer who was trying to fix the problem with our broadband line. Turns out he had just been to Tatton Park RHS show, so it was fun chatting to him about his impressions of the show and what he had bought, but a little distracting.

I filled a plain white jug with the two Bishop of Oxford blooms and a handful of the much more floriferous Bishop of Auckland. Add some cornflower ‘Black Ball’ and the aforementioned slightly tatty Alchemilla mollis, and I have something that is, if not wonderful, at least OK.

A vase of two Bishops

A vase of two bishops. I really hope the orange ‘Bishop of Oxford’ bucks its ideas up and starts flowering more profusely, I love the blooms, but they are a little on the sparse side so far. I may try a feed.

Vase number two, my trusty plain glass jug, got the three flowers on ‘Le Baron’. One of which was interestingly faded around the edges, which is new:

fading dahlia le baron flower

This really brought home how little I actually have available to cut that goes with the dahlias well. I wound up with some Knautia macedonica, more ‘Black Ball’, and then was completely stumped about foliage. Eventually I remembered that I had a badly malformed Pittosporum on the rear boundary, that looks lovely from my neighbour’s side but truly dreadful from mine because it had been completely overwhelmed by yet another spotted laurel. Easy to find some stray branches to prune, and they look really good as backing foliage. Still, given that most of the larkspur is still not open (and I’m not sure it will open now that it has been cut), I am a little underwhelmed this week.

Vae of dahlia Le Baron flowers

This whole putting flowers in a vase thing is rather addictive. I find myself thinking about growing shrubs for good foliage for a vase. I discovered a rather lovely looking dwarf eucalyptus the other day, and by next year another pittosporum will probably have grown enough for me to take the occasional branch from for a vase. Mostly, though, I am just determined to make sure I have plenty of frothy white umbellifers, and plenty of interesting blue flowers. Oh, and lots and lots of euphorbia!

Thank you Cathy for the vase challenge, I’m off to check out what other people have been doing this week.

33 thoughts on “Monday Vase: Dahlia Dalliance

  1. Hi Janet,

    Lovely vases, and very impressive Dahlias. Very nice indeed… I just wish they were hardy and didn’t need so much care to ensure they survive winter.

    1. Thank you Liz, I agree, dahlias are a bit of a pain, but so beautiful, I can never seem to resist them. I had been hoping to leave these in the ground, but it looks as if we will be rebuilding the bed they are in as part of the planned patio renovations, so I get to try overwintering them again…

  2. They are more than just OK, they are wonderful! And that last photo looks like it’s been lifted off an interior design magazine!

    1. Thank you, though I doubt any magazine shoot would show wall with filler waiting to be painted! Unless it was an article about beauty in the midst of chaos, which would describe our house perfectly ;-)

  3. Oh isn’t it fun trying these different things and searching out potential additions, Janet?! I love the process we all seem to be going through – and how we are beginning to plan for next year as well. Your Bishops are lovely, and is that Black Bull an annual cornflower? It’s lovely too, and the airy foliage in your second vase is all that’s needed for the three dahlias. I am not sure what to do with my dahlias next year, as the Sarah Raven ones I have added to the bold border are being swamped by crocosmia and other things – perhaps they need to be more advanced before they go in. What do you think? Thanks for joining in again – this is getting to be a habit ;)

    1. Hi Cathy, I thought you might be amused at me thinking about planting shrubs for their value as vase-fillers!! yes, Black Ball is an annual cornflower. Must admit I have a love-hate relationship with them, as they are very floppy and really need to be grown through netting to keep them upright enough to get long straight stems. And I hate growing things through netting… I am thinking about looking for a scabious equivalent for next year. As for dahlias in borders, I tend to put them out in the ground once they have three strong stems at least 20cm long and there are no longer any cold nights, but it can be very variable, how vigorously they grow, take my beautiful Bishop of Oxford, which is very slow and a very small plant in comparison to the others. I suspect lots of good rich mulch and regular feeding would help, though even then they might have trouble elbowing crocosmia aside, crocosmia being such thugs. Have to admit, I normally grow dahlias in pots, this year is the first time I have grown them in the ground, and then it is the cutting bed, just dahlias and a few annuals.

      PS It is a nice habit to be getting in to!

    1. Hi Sue, my larkspur seems to be getting in to it’s stride now, I may try autumn sowing some, now that it is flowering I really love it.

  4. I love the way you displayed your bouquet in that last photo, with the stones reflecting on the shiny surface. My dahlias are just beginning to come on, but should give me plenty of material in the weeks to come. Must seek out some of the ‘Bishop of Aukland’. My dark dahlias fell victim to gophers. I know what you mean about looking for things to plant with vases in mind.

    1. Hi Ricki, my dahlias are only really just getting going too, I am hoping for really big richly coloured bunches later in August! I can thoroughly recommend all the Bishops, and the insects will thank you for their simple flowers too.

  5. Come on Janet, both these vases are lovely! But I do know what you mean about planting things to go with others in vase. I am totally lacking in good foliage strange as that will sound coming from me! I need some frothy white things and acid green too. Help I need a new garden with more space!

    1. Christina that’s hilarious, need a new garden indeed ;-) I do know what you mean though, I was moaning to my other half the other day that every choice I make when planting in the garden means another dozen choices blocked off, like deciding to plant fruit in the Park border meaning I can’t have the grasses and massed late summer perennials I would love. And I have three times the amount of garden that I used to have here! Acid green and frothy white though, so essential. I hope my Selinum tenuifolium will establish well in the garden and provide at least some of the frothiness, but they seem to be growing extremely slowly.

  6. A lovely arrangement ! How wonderful are dahlias ! What did we have for late summer colour when they were out of favour and few people grew them !

    1. Thank you Jane – and yes, aren’t dahlias gorgeous! I’m glad we got over the whole “dahlias are vulgar” thing, they are worth the hassle of lifting and storing each year. And the flower so prodigiously once they get going.

  7. I agree with Mark and Gaz – you could style interiors me dear.
    Lovely event to join in on. I do my flowers usually (hark at me and my ‘usual’) on a Saturday. I may shift to a Monday to join you all. Great idea. Thanks for sharing Janet.

    On the blue front – the cerinthe and the scabious are looking fabulous here at the mo. There’s two to ponder. I guess Nigella would be fabulous too over or not.

    Can’t beat a bit of ladies mantle for frothy bubbles.

    1. Hi Fay, it’s lovely to “see” you back here, though I had to rescue you from the spam folder, very rude… Do join in, you can always “do” your flowers on Saturday and not post until Monday? Cathy won’t mind, and the more the merrier. I have nigella seed to sow for froth and seed heads, mustn’t forget.

    1. Good point Flighty, though strangely for me I have very few tall flowering grasses at the moment, something I hope to rectify this Autumn.

  8. They are both lovely vases Janet! I know what you mean about it being addictive and I am also thinking of new plants with vases in mind… more grasses and more purple foliage…. and more Euphorbias too! The Alchemilla is great for vases, but mine developed an odd smell after a couple of days… let me know if you notice the same!

    1. Thank you Cathy – its funny how this process has you wanting to plant new things that will work well in a vase, isn’t it, it adds a whole new dimension to gardening, I love it. No sign of a funny smell from the alchemilla as yet…

    1. Thank you Donna, aren’t dahlias wonderful? Its just a shame that the stems are often so short.

  9. I posted a comment earlier which seems to have disappeared so here goes again. My larkspur was really difficult to germinate and even now has only produced very small plants that are not at the flowering stage yet”

  10. I posted a comment earlier which seems to have disappeared so here goes again. My larkspur was really difficult to germinate and even now has only produced very small plants that are not at the flowering stage yet

  11. Now they are both fine vases Janet. The oh so handsome ‘Le Baron’ has gone on my wish list for next year :)

    1. Always happy to help a fellow gardener develop their wishlist ;-)

  12. I love this meme, but I have so many other things I want (need) to blog about lately. ;-) One of these days I’ll join in. I agree–flower arranging is addictive. Your creations are lovely!

    1. I know what you mean Beth, it can get a little tricky to fit it all in, can’t it! I will look forward to you joining in though, even if only occasionally.

  13. Lovely vases. I love your dahlias, I haven’ t grown either of those two, I thought at first that the dark one was a chocolate cosmos. I can’ t be bothered to dig dahlias up for the winter so I cover the tubers with newspaper and a pile of compost.. I think it is winter wet rather than cold that does for them.
    I love Le Baron, I have to have him next year. Gorgeous with the Pittosporum and black Knautia..

    1. Hi Chloris, I would be leaving my dahlias in the ground too, but we have decided to change the shape of the bed they are in a little, and depending on what we end up doing about replacing the patio, they will probably be in the line of fire, so to speak.I really love Le Baron too, it has a really good size of flower, not too enormous.

    1. Hi Damo, I love Le Baron, and have been really impressed with the quality and quantity of the flowers. Do you have a favourite orange dahlia? I am after one rather taller than the beautiful but rather diminutive Bishop of Oxford, and I seem to remember you being a bit of dahlia addict?!

      1. I grow a dahlia I’ve had for years that came under the name pompon-flow type that produces masses of orange/gold flowers. I don’t have any named varieties with orange flowers. Quite limited for space so I grow the same half a dozen varieties every year. I will have a couple of extra flower beds next year – if I do the work – so maybe there’ll be room for a few more dahlias!

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