Most winters, I make it until at least January before I start ordering plants for a gardening summer that might as well be a light year away, but this year I got a head start.
It wasn’t my intention to start buying when I should have been Christmas shopping for other people, but the early gardener gets the good stuff. If I know I need it (OK, fine … want it), I’ve learned that it’s better to just buy it, because I’ll end up missing what I really wanted and settling for a substitute that I never really like as much.
The first purchase I made was a large order of tree whips for an exciting (and a little scary) project. I’ll tell you more about that soon, but they are likely to be the first things I plant in 2020.
And then, suddenly, it was time to order dahlias. Well it is if you’re nuts like I am and need (and this is probably a legitimate need) certain varieties. No, I don’t know where I’m going to plant them all, particularly when you factor in the dozens more I’m storing in the basement. But I don’t let something silly like a lack of space prevent me from buying more plants.
I ordered from a variety of places this year, some that are new to me. One of the sort of charming things about dahlias is that there are a lot of smaller growers that sell highly curated collections. Few places will have everything on your list, so you have to shop around.
Here’s my list (so far; I’m certain more is to come):
Belle of Barmera
Café au Lait (replacements for the ones that went missing—no kidding)
Gallery Art Deco
- Ben Huston
- Andrea Lawson
- Peachy-Salmon Dinnerplate
- Sweet Nathalie
- Rock Run Ashley
- HS First Love
- KA Rosie Jo
You know, when you look at that list it doesn’t seem very sensible does it? Probably don’t do what I did, which is apparently become obsessed and order with reckless abandon.
However, if you ARE going to order like an obsessed maniac my very favorite dahlias so far (always searching, you know) are (in no particular order):
- Café au Lait (I know, that is so predictable, but the heart wants what the heart wants)
- HS Date
- Crichton Honey
- Penhill Dark Watermelon
I have also ordered from Swan Island Dahlias in the past and been very happy with both the selection and the quality. If you’re not an obsessed dahlia freak who is looking for very specific varieties, buying tubers from your local garden center in late winter or early spring can be a great way to get your dahlias going. You’ll be able to see (and more importantly feel) the tubers before you buy. However they likely won’t have a huge selection.