My First Dahlia

This post should be titled, “First Dahlia Fail.” Oh, don’t get me wrong. The dahlia grew and bloomed. It was what happened right after the first flowers were presented.

We had moved to a quiet development with a big backyard. It was a sea of grass punctuated with two lilac bushes, and a mock orange. For height there was one tall maple that threw the best shade. Shade is a valued commodity, highly sought after, if you have lived through a sweltering, Maryland Summer.

Our green oasis badly needed some color. We had the shovels, but just needed the plants. Among the annuals and perennials I purchased, from a box store, included a bag of two Park Princess tubers. One had turned to dust in the peat-moss-filled bag, I would find out when it was opened, but the second shriveled-tuber had a small eye on it. I planted the tuber deeply, as stated on the package, and waited.

One stem finally pushed through and as it lazily advanced upward, 3 buds formed. Pleased as punch would describe how I felt, envisioning these exotic looking flowers everywhere, especially on our table. I could see masses of them in my mind.

The first pristine flower opened, the second set of buds started to open, and then a “Gulley Washer” hit us.

Gulley Washer is the term my neighbor gave these rainstorms that were preceded by winds that made all shrubs bow or break. My little Park Princess broke. Right at the base and never came back no matter how much I stood over that vacancy and looked at it weekly until frost took the last bit of hope away.

The take away is I was quite green at growing dahlias. Not the green-thumb-kind of green. The dahlia should have been staked, especially just one plant. It didn’t have any brothers and sisters for support.

Secondly, the plant had too much shade and not enough sun.

Thirdly, my dahlia should have been pinched to make it fuller and help support new growth.

Lastly, buy healthy tubers.

Until tomorrow…

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