September already! Another growing season coming to an end. I think my annuals are glad to see cooler weather since they have been blooming vigorously all spring and summer long. I had diligently fed and watered them but now they are starting to look a little sad. I think they need a rest. Little by little I have been pulling out petunias, bacopa, and nasturtiums and now the baskets are looking a tad empty. I had also planted some small grasses and some heuchera so at least there is something there when I pull the annuals. I will probably tuck some pansies in the baskets as they like cooler weather.
But the gardens are by no means done for the year. My rudbeckia are still blooming and should continue to do so until a frost. The hardy fuchsia are still attracting hummingbirds and bees on a nice, warm fall day. And the dahlias, of course, are finally coming into their own. It has been a late year for mine, due partly to the rainy spring. But last fall was also the very first time I didn’t dig up the dahlias to store. Instead, I left them in their raised bed. So I am not sure who is at fault, but I do know I will be digging them this year.
Those of us who live in Tillamook County are very lucky to have a dahlia grower just south of the city of Tillamook. Old House Dahlias is located at 11600 Highway 101 South, just about 7 miles south of town near mile marker 72, on the west side of 101. They are now open weekends from 10 to 5 until we have a frost in October.
The owner, Mark Harvey, has been growing dahlias for over 16 years, starting with only a few in a Portland backyard. Now that Mark has relocated to Tillamook, he has over 200 new and heirloom varieties for sale. Even if you are not a dahlia lover – not that there are many who don’t love this versatile flower – the scene of the dahlia fields in full bloom is worth a trip.
Old House Dahlias will be having their annual Dahlia Festival on September 17th and 18th from 10 AM to 5 PM. It is a chance for you to purchase cut flowers or potted dahlias as well as order tubers for pickup or mail delivery next April. The Dahlia Festival is the perfect time to see the plants in full bloom so you can more easily judge the size, color, and shape of the plants. It’s also fun to walk through the fields and enjoy the visual beauty of an entire meadow of colorful blooms. Mark is also growing sunflowers and they are for sale as cut flowers. Also a sight to see a field of sunflowers in bloom, all turning their heads toward the sun.
Why grow dahlias? First is that they make excellent cut flowers. When massed in a bouquet, they are second only to a bouquet of roses. There are colors and variations for every taste. Light pink to dark burgundy, lilac to dark purple, peach to bright orange – you will find a color to fit your garden. Some are speckled or striped, too. And there are lots of flower sizes and shapes as well: the huge “dinner plate” dahlias to the smaller and more compact pompoms. Singles, doubles, spider shaped, formal decorative, informal decorative, and heirloom. The only problem I have is deciding what to try with so many choices.
But another good reason to grow dahlias is that the bees love them. When we visited Old House Dahlias a couple of weeks ago, there were so many bees on the flowers that it was hard to see the true shape of the bloom. Since I haven’t seen many bees in my garden this year, it was nice to see so many in the fields. And the dahlias that have more open centers were being feasted on by butterflies as well. So consider dahlias an excellent plant for all sorts of pollinators.
If you don’t get the chance to visit during the Dahlia Festival, the display gardens are open weekends as I mentioned before. Or you can visit their website at www.oldhousedahlias.com and order from there. The site has lots of photos of the current dahlias that are on offer as well as tips for growing, a section to ask your questions and leave your contact info to be added to their email list.