Last year I bought some dahlia tubers from Peter Nyssen and planted them out in the little border that edges our patio. I enjoyed them all summer, and then decided to see if they would survive the winter if given a good mulch. I forgot the mulch. I kept my fingers crossed, because it was a mild winter. I waited. And waited. Nothing. So I left the self-sown feverfew to fill the space instead.

Come mid June I was getting fed up of being attacked by the feverfew as I walked past, and decided to get rid of some of it. At which point I discovered something that looked suspiciously like a dahlia shoot. I was ecstatic – one of my dahlias had survived! I cleared more feverfew. I discovered more little dahlia shoots. Very, very small dahlia shoots. I had no idea whether they would ever grow into actual plants, let alone flower. At that point I just hoped they would bulk up enough to get through another winter. It took them a while. To late August, to be precise. But they did start to flower. ‘Bishop of Auckland’ first, and most prolifically. Then ‘Le Baron’, which has grown into a huge plant and is covered in buds. ‘Karma Chocolate’ and ‘Bishop of Oxford’ were latecomers, and the latter has been rather pathetic, if beautiful, but I have dahlias in the garden after all. Just in time for the first frosts and what is promised to be a hard winter… So I figured I’d better enjoy them while I could. But not on a Monday – sorry Cathy!

Vase of dahlias
Dahlias ‘Bishop of Auckland’, ‘Karma Chocolate’ and ‘Le Baron’

I only had three blooms on ‘Bishop of Oxford’, and all on very short stalks, so I put them in my tiny bargain brown bud vase.

Dahlia 'Bishop of Oxford'

The vase took its place on my desk, at which point the petals on the third “you’re really pushing your luck now” flower dropped.

fallen petals from Dahlia 'Bishop of Oxford'

I’ve left them there because (a) I’m lazy and (b) they look pretty!

*OK, so quite a few words as it turns out…

23 thoughts on “(Almost*) Wordless Wednesday: Dahlias are apparently tougher than I thought…

    1. I agree Flighty, they are giving me a welcome boost as the days get shorter and darker.

    1. Hi Julieanne, yes, they definitely deserve a mulch this year, and much crossing of fingers. Mind you, it is hard to believe in a harsh winter given how mild it still is!

    1. Hi Diana, really pleased you are finding the new look very readable, that was one of my main aims! The dahlias are a delightful late-season surprise.

  1. I was also surprised that all my dahlias survived, even when we have a hard winter the Bishop’s have always returned, I think all it takes is a reasonably free draining soil.

    1. I’m beginning to trust in that Christina, the pale yellow one I planted in the park border has been flowering all summer!

  2. That was such good luck Janet! I had one survive once, only to be eaten by the slugs the poor thing! I really love the orange ones. Are you going to mulch them this year! ;-)

    1. Hi Cathy, I will definitely be mulching them this year – there again, I said that last year! But give the forecast for a really cold winter, it seems only fair. I love the orange dahlia dearly, but it is a rather poor performer compared to the others. I think, assuming that it survives the winter, I may move it to a pot, see if it does any better like that. The flowers are beautiful though.

  3. I know I push the bounds with ‘Wordless’ Wednesdays, Janet but blimey I needn’t worry. :) I really like you’re makeover too – very smart. And like well posh, innit? To think of all the blooming (pun intended) care my dahlias have had … what with mulch, water and feed. I ask you – why bother? Let feverfew do the work, eh? Dave

    1. It was my sole aim, making you feel better Dave ;-) Not too posh, I hope, not being a posh bird at all! I think free draining soil is a gift to lazy gardeners like myself.

  4. I like the new blog format! I love it when plants surprise us. I saved some of the tubers from the dahlias I grew this year with hopes they will shine again next year. Your bouquet is a beauty!

    1. Thank you! I love the good surprises too, hope you get loads of lovely flowers from your saved tubers next year.

  5. Glad you got some blooms eventually even if they didn’t make it to a vase on Monday! I have been thrilled with my PN dahlias so thank you for recommending them but I don’t think I will risk leaving them in the ground overwinter…. ps feedback on formatting: on this post on my laptop the words in your title are split up over 4 lines ‘(Almost*) Wordless We/dnesday: Dahlias are a/pparently tougher tha/n I thought…’ which I guess wasn’t what you intended… ;)

    1. Glad you have got on well with your PN dahlias Cathy, and no, probably best to not try leaving them out!! Thanks for the formatting feedback, I will have to work out what on earth is happening, our business website looks fine on our old laptop, but this blog is misbehaving on it too. Sorry, will try and fix it as soon as I get a spare moment.

  6. Love the new theme….and I wish I could leave out my dahlias and they would return….I am hoping this year to dig them up and overwinter them in my basement so they will be able to be planted out come spring.

    1. Thanks Donna! I know, it makes life so much easier when you can just leave the dahlias in the ground, I am very lucky that way – though it will be interesting to see if they survive the harsh winter that many are predicting is heading our way. I’m sure your tubers will be very happy in your basement, at least you will be able to check up on them from time to time. I stored some in our loft at our old house, and because it was tricky to get up there didn’t check on them at all. Turns out they all went mouldy on me :-(

  7. Oh what delicious dahlias Janet. I usually dig mine up and leave them in the greenhouse over winter but have been pleasantly surprised in the past when I’ve left the odd one or two in the ground. I’m sure that I’ve admired your ‘Le Baron’ before and must remember to add it to the wish list for next year!

    1. They are still going strong Anna! Particularly Le Baron, which is impressively productive, and I like the longer stems it has too, makes it more useful than some other varieties. I will make sure I mulch this year just in case the forecasts of a harsh winter prove true.

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