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.