GOOD old dahlias, they are indispensable. Blooming from mid-summer to late autumn, not only do they fill the garden with colour, they provide a glut of flowers for the house, too. So, you can never have enough, even in a tiny garden. And while many grow tall, reaching around 5ft (1.5m), there are plenty of superb smaller dahlias that will suit situations where space is tight.
Compact forms reaching 1ft-32in (60-80cm), such as the gorgeous ‘Totally Tangerine’, are wonderful in the middle of the border or in pots and have the advantage of not requiring staking. Then there are the dwarf forms. Even smaller, growing to just 16in (40cm), they include the pink ‘Gallery Rembrandt’, which is perfect for growing at the front of the border or in window boxes.
Usually, dahlia tubers are started off in pots under cover in early spring and then planted out after the frosts. But if you are late to the party this year, it doesn’t mean Reaching 16in (40cm) or less, dwarf dahlias are ideal for the front of the border, and the likes of Bambino will please those looking for a more modern, understated look you cannot still enjoy them; small dahlias can be bought now, ready grown, at garden centres, for planting this month.
If you love classic dahlia flower shapes such as the decorative, cactus and ball forms, there are plenty of short bedding dahlias to choose from. ‘Gallery Art Fair’ has ivory, decorative flowers and reaches 16in (40cm), while ’Melody Dora’ is an 11⁄2ft (45cm) cultivar with peach yellow blooms. Both are excellent.
A little taller and suitable for bigger pots or the middle of the border are compact varieties such as the burgundy and pink ‘Bacardi’, which reaches 21⁄2ft (75cm), and ‘Tamburo’, a 28in (70cm) cactus dahlia the colour of port wine.
For those who are less keen on these traditional dahlia shapes, there are still plenty of options to choose from. In contemporary gardens, designers use the single, anemone and star dahlias, which have a more modern look and provide nectar for bees. Cream, anemone-flowered ‘Toto’ is a 16in (40cm) gem, while the single-flowered Dark Angel dahlias, such as Star Wars (apricot-coral) and Braveheart (dark pink), reach 1ft (30cm). Slightly larger at 2ft/60cm are the star-shaped ‘Honka Red’ and the Happy Single series, which includes Happy Single Romeo (crimson) and Happy Single Wink (pink).
Plant some of these fabulous diminutive dahlias now to enjoy their unbeatable cheer and colour for the rest of summer and into autumn.
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July 18, 2020