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The first plant orders of the 2020 season


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.

raised vegetable garden
Here’s a little hint about the big, scary project I’m cooking up. 

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):

Longfield Gardens

  • Bacardi
  • Belle of Barmera
  • Café au Lait (replacements for the ones that went missing—no kidding)
  • Gallery Art Deco
  • Maya
  • Maarn
  • Linda’s Baby
  • Penhill Watermelon

Bear Creek Farm

  • Ben Huston
  • Jomanda
  • Rancho
  • Andrea Lawson

Triple Wren Farms

  • Peachy-Salmon Dinnerplate
  • Sweet Nathalie
  • Nicholas

Wild Willows

  • Rock Run Ashley
  • HS First Love

Cowlitz River Dahlias

  • 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)
Cafe au Lait dahlia
A perfect pink ‘Cafe au Lait’ bloom.
  • HS Date

HS Date dahlia with monarchs

  • Labyrinth

Labyrinth dahlia The Impatient Gardener

  • Crichton Honey

Crichton Honey dahlia

  • Penhill Dark Watermelon

Penhill dark monarch dahlia


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.

8 Responses

  1. About how tall do your Labyrinth and Crichton Honey dahlias get? I am trying to design a dahlia bed for between a bench and a fence and the heights are so different between websites that I am stumped. Thanks so much for all your help and inspiration!❤ (Do you start developing a headache when you think about a design too long, too?)

  2. Do you have any articles about getting started with Dahlias that you could share with me ? It’s one of the flowers that I’ve been fearful to try, I’m also zone 5, Neenah, WI. Hoping for any tips on how to get started, and also curious about details on how fast they multiply, etc? If I jump and make the investment, I’d like to have the right information. Thanks so much.

    1. There’s even a red dahlia called Wisconsin Red! You’re good in Zone 5, just jumpstart them indoors in pots.

  3. Hi, I live in Central Wisconsin, Zone 4. I am new to gardening and bought a house with lots of space for gardening last year. I cleared out 6-7 ft of space next to my neighbors picket fence that is 150 ft long. I could not plant the bulbs last fall, and was looking for ideas for bulbs. I came across your youtube videos and came to this site. I am excited to learn that it is not too late to buy Dahlias, and looks like your selection of Dahlias is a great place to start. I have a couple of questions 1) The places listed here, did you have good experience buying from them before, in terms of success of growth and flowering? 2) When do you start planting them in the ground or can you start them indoors, maybe in the uninsulated garage in pots? It snows sometimes as late end of April here. 3) Are there other bulbs or perennials that it is not too late to buy now for spring-Summer blooms?

  4. 🙂 this is already a good start 🙂
    What Clematis are in your wishlist?

    The other day I watched your video where you very short pointed out your boxwood cloud you planted in front of the veggie garden. I am wondering if you have a posting or a video where you talk about just that process? I would want to start a cloud also but couldn’t find any info how many sizes to buy or how far apart to plant. What boxwoods did you pick for it? Green mountain or green Velvet? Sooo many questions ?
    This year I was lucky to find green beauty (never heard of that before) at Lowe’s on clearance for $3 and this variety does so well in my Michigan garden

  5. It was enough to start browsing through the new seed catalogs….. Now you have me looking at all kinds of beautiful bulbs! Sigh… many beautiful flowers and plants, so little space for them. ?.

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