Dahlia Time
28th February 2017
BASH. Wedding Fair
8th March 2017

The first time I came across a Dahlia was when I was working in a Florist Shop. I’d never seen them grown in gardens, or put in bunches, and so when June hit (everything is always early at Flower Markets) I was completely captivated by their array of shapes and sizes and colours. From candy floss pink, acidic yellow, ‘Fruit salad’ sweetie colours of reds and orange, honeyed hues of apricot to deep chocolatey purples – I was fascinated; 1) How can a flower have such geometric petals? 2) Why had I never seen these flowers before?

I quickly found out the latter. ‘No Dahlias please’ followed by lots of ‘my dad used to grow these for competitions in the village show’ and even ‘they are SO Kitsch darling.’ It seems that Dahlias were very trendy in the 70’s and 80’s. They were grown by everyone and anyone who owned a garden and the colour combos were psychedelic and totally groovy baby. Which explains why people of a certain age were pretty glad to see them go out of floral fashion and couldn’t cope when the sight of them accosted their eyeballs again. This left me feeling a bit baffled, some like me thought they were awesome – others HATED them. And I couldn’t help shying away from them for fear of floral drama if I so much as waved my hand toward one when making up a bouquet for a customer.

I must admit, I can be a flower snob at the best of times. Yes, there is such a thing as personal preferences. And yes, there are colours of dahlia that I would certainly NOT grow (yellow). BUT you CAN find beautiful varieties even amongst flowers that you wouldn’t normally think to touch with a bargepole. For example, Gypsophila to me smells like cat wee and looks like rolled up balls of loo roll BUT, now being a flower grower, I’ve completely fallen for Gypsophila elegans ‘Covent Garden’ – which looks, and smells, neither like the the above. It’s dainty and whimsical and I wont have a bad word said about it.

Today I came across another article in a gardening magazine that mentioned how trendy the ‘reintroduction’ of Dahlias has become. Most flowers evoke wonderful, beautiful memories of warm summer days or picking flowers with your Granny but these articles play more to people’s floral nightmares. Nightmares of a certain type of person, who would spend hours faffing over their Dahlias, measuring their blooms to make sure they were precisely perfect to win the gold award at the village show. The journalist gently tries to coax people out of their Dahlia blinkers and convince them it is now socially acceptable to grow them again. Enough time has past so that people wont be offended by the sight of them. I imagine to those who are already strongly set against these cheerful blooms, it would like someone saying to me ‘just a little bit of butter won’t hurt you, if used sparingly and only in the backs of borders.’ OH YES it will. Shout out to my fellow lactose intolerant folk.

But – hang on a moment, all ye garden journalists. What about us? The young flower-loving generation, eager to learn and discover new varieties of plants and flowers. Eager to form our own opinions. Eager to be shown ALL the colours and shapes before our opinion is set – why taint our introduction to a flower with ‘like something you’d find on a garish 1970’s tablecloth’? Or say that they are ‘old-fashioned?’

What some may consider a reintroduction of a plant may actually be a first introduction for all us first timers… Rise up all you young and funky flower lovers – let’s form our own floral opinions without anyone’s previous experiences tainting them. And let’s be jolly about it!

P.S. Sorry about tainting your opinion about Gypsophila, and for the contradiction!

Heres a link to my fav Dahlia’s I grew last year on the Meadow, because I think Dahlia’s are lovely, and have been championing them (secretly) from the start! http://meadowfolk.co.uk/dahlia-time/