To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: August 2012 Newsletter
NEXT MEETING: August 14, @ 7:30 time @ 9th and Lincoln
PROGRAM: Tuesday July 10 @ 7:30 PM @ 9th and Lincoln. Will Gonzalez and associates will coach DCSers through creative flower interpretations of our show themes. Bring some greenery from your garden, some props, and your imaginations. Check out our show schedule for the Olympic subjects, including a Tall Arrangement like pole vaulting and an arrangement that features water, like the swimming events. Who will bring palate pleasers?
DRIP, FERTIGATE OR SPRINKLE?
Tom Bresson, owner of Urban Farmer, dazzled us with all sorts of watering options. Ten years ago a system that measured the amount of sunshine, the light hours of the day, the amount of precipitation and adjusted ones irrigation system accordingly would have cost $30K; today these marvels clock in around $100. From his black box of nifty gadgets, Tom demonstrated multivalve timers for up to 8 valves, pressure regulators, filters, pop ups, drip tape, diaphragm emitters, polyvinyl unkinkable tubing, soaker tubes, and hundreds of nozzle changes. He suggested that with sandy well-drained soil, one should try shorter duration watering with more intervals, i.e. instead of going for an hour once a day, try 20 minutes three times a day. Less nutrients would be washed out of the soil and the dahlia would still get the same amount of water. Do NOT drip water too fast for your given soil to absorb. Pick the optimum water delivery method, layout the proper system with proper spacing, hydraulics and pressure, and then adjust, adjust, adjust to keep it tuned exactly to your garden needs. Tom urges one to bring into the SF, Mill Valley, or Richmond Urban Farmer store photos of the situation you want to water, pix of your water outlet, and pix of what you want to water. Alternatively, go to urbanfarmerstore.com and their website with tips and problem solving/trouble shooting advice. Once you know what you want, building your system as easy as playing with Leggos.
GENEROSITY OF FRIENDS
Wow! So many people so generous in so many ways! John D. brought assorted plants and fresh plums. Warren donated wonderful late tubers, all sprouted and labeled, as well as bearded iris rhizomes. A whole box of redolent Meyer lemons arrived straight from the Dingwalls’ tree. Arriving in the wake of the Fourth of July appeared patriotic plates and napkins from the Manis. Baker Bill and Gino brought scrumptious cakes; Donna and Marina shared cheese and crackers. Leo gave us nutty bars. Who brought the luscious strawberries????
LIGHTS! ACTION! FLORIBUNDA!
How will you help make this year’s Annual Show and Competition the best ever? Sign up with Elsie to clerk; work with a judging team to keep track of reds, blues and highers. Help set up tables on Friday 5-6PM and tear them down Sunday 5-6 PM. Act as host during critical hours Sat. 12-4 and Sunday 10-2, or the other hours in between explaining dahlia lore to the amazed public. Grace our membership table for a couple hours on Sat. or Sunday and tell potential DCSers what we do and why they’d enjoy it, too. Tell all your friends to come to our FREE event. Print out copies of our poster below and put it all over. Show your dahlias and your photographs: without which there could be no show!
SINE QUA NON
Without your participation—flowers and photos—there is no show. Novices—bring even 2 or 3 blooms (or more more more) to get a feel for our competition. Your dahlias delight the public and educate other dahlia growers. It’s so much more interesting to participate than just watch. Truly. Calculate how much time you think you need to set up, stage, ferry your exhibits to their rightful places, and clean up. Then double it. Really. Print out this check list of items to bring: containers with well-affixed frogs and your name on the bottoms; watering pail; 5 gallon bucket for refuse on Sat. am and dumping water into on Sunday evening; towels—where there’s water, there’s a spill sometime; pens or pencils; ADS Classification Book; preprinted schedule downloaded from website; sharp scissors, knife or shears; entry cards; florlife (optional but optimal additive to water to keep your specimens sturdy and gorgeous). Remember: 90% of winning is showing up!
WARDEN SECRET SAUCE
Every year Philip vows that his dahlias will be even better than the fine year before. This year he has excelled himself. To lovely well drained sandy soil, Philip added 15 bags of chicken manure. The 120 plants from Corralitos and DSC’s sale are growing voluptuously! He features some new goodies like Irene Ellen, a deep purple ball and Wanda’s Aurora, a huge yellow light blend. His Mingus Nicoles glow monstrously beautiful. His drip system flows to each plant. Phil regularly foliar feeds, dusts with Hoist, and liberally sprinkles Super Sluggo for earwigs and snails to achieve his spectacular results.
At the lovely Montessori Santa Cruz campus, Lou Paradise conducted an outstanding Judging Seminar. With John Morton’s stylish Vannacizing, Lou hit a wonderful balance between hard fact, some speculation and dahlia humor. For example, Lou highlighted the fact that obverse petal color will now be recorded in brackets because such colors are important especially in raucous informal decoratives like Nick Sr. Probably in the near future we will need new demarcations for center colors since we now have yellow, red and dark centers. When does a single “eye zone” such as CG Eclipse, become a blend? Iris brought Alberta Sunset, a stellar with rounded petals: do we count off for this or do we amend the stellar definition or both? Another Iris bloom, Clearview Debby, posed a similar problem: can formal decoratives have pointed petals? Should they be discounted? Redefined? Both? Lou repeatedly stressed that the ADS Classification definitions strive to describe the “ideal” form; however, real dahlias fall on a spectrum of perfection. For example, where on this continuum do formal decoratives actually become balls? What constitutes a novelty? Generally speaking, color alone does not. There has to be something sufficiently new, strange, different in terms of form. Tinnee had a backwards orchid; instead of the petals flexing inwards on themselves, they curled backwards! Very odd. Novelty? Probably deemed the ADS Classification Guru! Ken introduced his Largest Dahlia in the World category and used two of Kevin and Karen’s humongous Emory Pauls to test out his measuring equipment. Result: 13.3 inches! To exercise our new skills, we divided into teams to assess new introductions from Corralitos, Masurats and Maxwell. Major appreciation to Kristine Albrecht for organizing the event and orchestrating such superb vittles.
On a ranch raising Black Angus, our Tinnee hybridizes black foliage and black centered dahlias. Alas, both dahlias and gophers love her sandy soil. In fact, gophers throng to Tin’s colorful oasis, requiring 2 furry gopher kitties, gopher pellets, gopher cages for each clump, AND a barrage of constantly reset traps. Too bad gopher pie is not more popular. Nevertheless, Tinnee’s relentlessness results in 7 Nick Sr.s celebrating on one plant! Wow! Recently videographer, Jeanette Schnell, documented Tinnee’s ranchita.
Wow! Dahlias bloom over night! So much fun to see dahlias unfurl that I’ve never had in my garden before. Mexico puffs its quills so well. Scott’s Caldera glows so golden. AC Aquarius displays such dark blend beauty with such exquisite stellar form. My 10” first Islander made the public gasp. Sue gaped at big Clearview Magic while Rolf grew bigger than Valeria’s head. Frank $ponsored Stillwater Brilliant for our show; based on the ones I’ve seen of his, he should have offered $100 because he would win it back, his are so archly gorgeous. Enjoy our 4 Bay Area shows. Many people have asked me why dahlias start with such promise, grow wee sprouts of ½” to 3” and then just fizzle out. I don’t know. It could be the damping off is caused by a fungus in the soil. It could be too much water or not enough. It could just be dahlia miscarriage. I have thrown out a lot of these half-hearted dahlias this year. It happens. That’s why I’m glad I have great back-ups ready to take the place of refusniks. I pulled two big blooming bushes out of the Dell recently. The blooms were open centered when they should have been fully double. They were shabby. Out went these non-performers and in went splendid understudies to star in their new spots. Be ruthless. Don’t tolerate so-so dahlias when so many magnificent dahlias could bring such joy to you and others. Which brings me to sharing: how wonderful to watch someone’s face who’s never seen a dahlia before. “Is this real?” “What is this?” “Like a jewel.” “Fireworks in a flower.” Try to cut early in the morning or later in the evening. Put in water as soon as you cut; don’t walk around with a handful—it’s like making your baby hold its breath until you get to the crib. Go to the 4 shows in the Bay Area. Volunteer to clerk. Get involved. Throw a garden party. Ask to visit other gardens. Take lots of pix for yourself, for your DSC newsletter, for our photo competition, and for the ADS photo contest. Walk your friends around the Dahlia Dell. Look for Lou’s new Eden Talos, A SC Br and Gaylen Rose, BB FD W with the classic deep lavender blush. I was taken with his rambunctious Spring Rain. Continue to stay ahead of problems. Aphids have been particularly pesky this season. If you catch them when they are still based on only one or two stems, just pluck the stems and toss the whole thing out. If more radically infested, squish as many with your fingers (very satisfying squelch!) and then spray with insecticide. Bayers three-in-one soil drench utilizes a systemic insecticide but is not enough if you have a pandemic raging. The more prophylactic you are, the greener you can be; the laxer, the more drastic measures you’ll need to intervene. Mike Schelp says he appreciates disbudding because it means he handleseach flower of his 700 plants! He notices issues early. Remove the bottom leaves from your clumps so that none touch the ground or get wet when you water from below. Note the clean stalks of Lou P’s handsome plants. He allows only one stalk per bush. I sometimes allow two or three if it’s a disccentered plant, because size is not an issue with them (yet). I just added calcium nitrate to my Dell darlings. Supposedly it helps with stronger stems—like dahlia Viagra. We’ll see.
Yours in Dirt,
Dahlia Society of California, Inc., San Francisco, CA – Copyrighted
Editor: Deborah Dietz
Page layout: Mike Willmarth
Photo credits: Dietz, Schnell
Originally Organized in 1917 in San Francisco
the Dahlia was adopted as the Official Flower of San Francisco
on October 4, 1926 by its Board of Supervisors