August flowers – it’s dahlia time

It’s the middle of August and during the drought the slugs and snails fared badly which means the dahlias did well, with nearly all of them being healthy and strong enough to flower this year.

I grow all but a couple of my dahlia plants in pots. It is not really ideal for them by a long way and has meant regular watering and feeding. I always use a watering can so I can gauge how much water each pot receives. It is time-consuming and tiresome, but essential. Flowering has been better this year with all the sun, but it’s also the first dahlia season since the big ol’ eucalyptus in a neighbouring yard bit the dust.

Dahlia ‘Jowey Minnie’ on the kitchen table.

Of course, dahlias are for me a great source of colour inspiration, but new this year there’s been some interesting almost structural shapeliness with the arrival of dahlia ‘Jowey Minnie’. I think you can appreciate their form more easily in the black and white and muted photographs below than when you’re being distracted by all that colour.

Same flower arrangement. Black and white, muted colour and full colour.

A clear close up of the arrangement shows the fascinating form of ‘Jowey Minnie’. Interesting to us humans, but less so to the bees and butterflies as the complex, tight shape does not make for easy access to the nectar.

Dahlias ‘Jowey Minnie’, ‘Totally Tangerine’. ‘Blue Bayou’ and ‘Bishop of Canterbury’ with ammi visnaga.

Single-flowered dahlias are preferable for pollinators, but even better are the tiny, nectar-rich, easy access flowers of ammi visnaga.

Ammi visnaga, white cosmos and borage. Left fading, right faded and soon for the compost bin.

Yesterday, we finally had some proper rain showers here in Ipswich. The forecast had been for short, but heavy downpours and so on Tuesday evening I cut the few remaining roses that had coped with the recent high temperatures.

Re-reading this it does seem as though gardening is somewhat of a trial, but I enjoy being outside, the physical activity and the rewarding outcome -beautiful flowers. At the same time gardening has made me very, very aware of the precarious nature of food production.

This year it looks as if I will harvest plenty of pears, but have had only a single plum! It was unblemished, sweet and delicious. There were three sweet cherries (yes, that’s only three!) and the birds got all three. There are plenty of figlets, but I don’t expect these to mature and ripen unless we have a long Indian summer. These are a second crop of figs as the very early first crop mysteriously failed. If we hear folk complaining about ‘wonky’ fruit in the shops we should just be pleased there’s fruit at all.

Roses ‘Breath of Life’, ‘L’Aimant’ and ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ with sweet peas and borage.

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

16 thoughts on “August flowers – it’s dahlia time”

  1. Plums have done fairly well here, and apples look set fair, unlike the pears which look as though they’ll be diseased and rather grim. I admire your tender care of your dahlias, a flower I find hard to love – they always seem computer-assisted perfect to me. They don’t seem a natural choice for you and your lovely free-flowing designs.

    1. Ah the thing with dahlias is they will be blooming and blooming from now until they get blackened by frost. I mostly prefer the single-flowered ones, but my sister chooses a selection from Sarah Raven each year and sends me half her order as a gift. I’m certainly NOT complaining.

  2. I love looking at your flowers. People here don’t grow many or else it’s a narrow range of offerings that the garden center stocks. And it’s been so dry that even the sturdy black eyed Susans are brown and dead. So it’s nice to see your beautiful blooms.

    1. Thank you, but it has been a slog this year with the watering as we too have had an ‘official’ drought where I live. In my previous garden I actually had soil and not concrete and was able to plant drought tolerant plants. This winter I will be rethinking my tiny yard and will not have so many pots as I think periods of drought will become more frequent and it doesn’t feel right to use drinking water for watering once my rainwater, collected in butts, runs out.

      1. Oh yes, I love the look of prickly pears. And, if the soil is sandy and free-draining might, just might, survive a coldish winter here.

  3. I love Dahlias. A friend of mine had a quarter acre block and grew many varieties. Such eye candy.
    Just today Bill and I were discussing we are becoming too removed from nature. We are looking forward to the weather improving and being enticed to walks on the beach again. We usually do it barefoot, so the idea of sneakers and parkas don’t quite cut the mustard here. And we have had such storms this year that we are not exactly sure how much beach is left…

    1. Ah I do envy you living so close to the sea. It must be invigorating. I think I would love it. Yup, the winter storms wreak havoc and with more energy in the world’s climate system storms are going to get wilder. It is going to be interesting to say the least to see coastal areas being re-shaped. Where I grew up there are discussions about letting the sea walls erode away entirely and allow areas of marshland to return.

      1. Perhaps it is time to let nature reclaim what was hers? A couple of hours ago I was reading in the sun on my balcony overlooking the golf course and beach beyond. Now I am in my study on the other side of the building and a light rain is falling, buffeted by a howling wind.

      2. I think Mother Nature is going to be reclaiming much all round the world and unfortunately it’s going to be tough for all kinds of complex life not just humans.

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