Sometimes as the quality of our northern light cools rapidly into the blue-greys of autumn, bright coloured dahlias can look strangely out of place, but if there’s enough dark green still in the garden their vibrant presence makes a welcome cheery picture.
And, the dark red of dahlia Arabian Night appears particularly rich in the late-afternoon autumn sunlight.
Perhaps the 29th August could be named ‘Dahlia Day’ as here in East Anglia the dahlias are blooming their hearts out and the 29th doesn’t quite sound like the end of summer, yet – well, not so much as the 30th or 31st August. Of course, well tended and regularly deadheaded, or cut for the house, dahlias keeping on flowering until they get hit by the first hard frost.
I like small-flowered decorative dahlias like Arabian Night or cacti type dahlias such as Nuit D’ete (lost last year due to relentless slug attack!). I also prefer single flowered varieties such as Giselle which has the bonus of attractive bronze foliage. My white dahlias were originally bought as part of a pink and white dahlia mix so think they might be ‘Perfection’ or ‘Nathalie’s Wedding’ not really sure which, but not a particularly good white and a bit stiff and starchy for me.
However, I didn’t buy this ‘dinner plate’ variety as I have previously found they are difficult to keep looking good and each bloom needs staking as they are so large, five to six inches across. But this music hall show off has just turned up in a packet of seeds that were supposed to be all very dark wine red, single flowers – and with some amusement I’ve found out it is called Mystery Day.
All my dahlias are planted in large pots that I sink into the ground to mix with the rest of my August flowering plants. The dark red is used to give depth to the planting which is quite relaxed and informal.