To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: August 2018 Newsletter
NEXT MEETING: 14 August at 7:00. Program: Booka Alon, Vermicomposter Extrodinaire will speak on and demonstrate the wonders of worm composting.
PLEASE NOTE: Because we have so much to cover at the meeting, start time will be 7:00 PM.
Who will donate treats for dahlianeers?
NAME THAT FORM: Deborah led us in a rousing game of dahlia form ID. What is the difference between a single, an orchid, a collarette and and orchette? How do you distinguish between a straight cactus, an incurved cactus and a semi cactus? Carl proudly demonstrated the perfect incurved cactus form of his magnificent Dagmar. “I’ve been carrying it around for two days, showing it to everyone.” At the Dell Deborah dithered about not growing any informal decs; Cathy promptly walked over to a gonzo Pennhill Watermelon: utterly humongous and truly informal, complete with rambunctious twists. After going through most of the forms we were left with Hollyhill Bill M and Valley Porcupine—not fitting into any of the classical forms put them squarely in the Novelty category. Deborah exhorted us all to name and form id each dahlia in our garden as we strolled by as good practice. Best of all, everyone went home with colorful dahlias. People wondered if Deborah has such fine dahlias so early in the season, how she could keep them going beyond September when other people’s dahlias give out. “Always cut down to NEW GROWTH. If you’re not sure, come by the Dell on a Saturday morning and practice deadheading with me.”
GENEROSITY OF FRIENDS: Major thanks to Pat for the lemonade and Florentines. Who brought the chocolate chip cookies???
SHOW PACKING LIST: click here to print the whole list
American Dahlia Society Classification Handbook
Show schedule print out what you need
Preprinted entry forms with your exhibitor’s number
Sharp scissors or well-whetted snips
Watering can (optional x2)
Towels large and small: can’t have too many
5-gallon water bucket for emptying blooms after show
XL spread sheet of all your flowers WITH ADS numbers
Tested containers with permanent pin frogs
Optional but Helpful:
Hundred-year composite book
Cart (for large quantities)
Extra stems for use as supports
Stylet oil—for cleaning your leaves
Aspirin or ibuprofen???? (for you, not the vases)
However much time you think you’ll need to set up and get your entries ferried to their respective show spots, DOUBLE IT!!! Print out the show schedule and contemplate our special categories. Do you want to float a waterlily? Did you bring a bowl? Do you have an out-there specimen to catch People’s Choice fancy? How about a wow! Bi-color or a slick variegated? Consider a Paradise or Corralitos or Maxwell introduction? Let the arrangement themes inspire your glorious creativity. What about a fun snapshot for the photo contest?
HOW CAN YOU HELP AT OUR SHOW? Our extravagant floribunda takes all of us pitching in. On Friday afternoon at 4 PM we need stalwarts to set up over 100 tables and picture screens. Growers will begin staging blooms at 6:30 pm. Early Saturday morning we need good Samaritans to help late-comers bus exhibits to their appointed spots, draw water pails full, and help clean up. Anyone interested in clerking, judging or working at our membership table, please contact Deborah. Clerking is an excellent way to listen to the judges, familiarize yourself with more dahlia identifications, and help make the ADS Classification Book accurate. We particularly need people for the 10 am to noon and Noon-2 membership table on Saturday. Sunday morning is also a critical time for the membership table as those who entered a lot of categories will probably be home sleeping in having been up all night on Friday into Saturday. On Sunday, we need more stalwarts to help us break down tables and tidy up. It’s fun to help collect vases for exhibitors. Click here to download the show poster for printing.
BEWARE JUMPING FROGS! Pin frogs MUST be glued into containers at least 2-4 days BEFORE our show and TESTED for leaks. Aquarium cement works very well. Aquarium cement forms a permanent bond. Lou uses containers 25 years strong. Pin frogs can be bought on line or at the hardware store in Japan Town. The watchwords for choosing show vases are: shallow and heavy. Because you must have the first leaf pair above the edge of the container, the shorter your vase, the more likely even short-stemmed specimen blooms will qualify. The heavier your container, the bigger single or multiple dahlias it will hold without toppling over. It’s a nasty catastrophe to your fellow competitors when your exhibit crashes over initiating a domino-like cascade of other people’s beautiful flowers. Imagine the mess, if your container leaks; not only will your poor bloom tragically wilt, but it will soggy up its whole section of table. Lastly, please put your name on the bottom of your container. Sometimes a sharpie can label your pot; othertimes you might need a marine marker pen which actually paints your moniker on the bottom. Cathy reports, “I had a ball collecting containers. Garage Sales, thrift stores. Finally I had to stop myself.” All this notwithstanding, in one of our shows a lovely Mexico went to the Court of Honor in a beer bottle. After all, it’s the bloom that counts, ultimately, not the container.
SHOW US THE METAL! This is our PSW CONFERENCE SHOW. That means that all categories in Section F are conference mandated and have cool medals or otherwise snazzy trophies or plaques or? Associated with them. So check out what you grow and how it might be entered in Section F for fun and glory.
BIGGEST DAHLIA IN THE WORLD AND BIGGEST PRIZE: Chad and Tom generously put up $50 to sponsor the Largest Dahlia in the World! Your winner could come from any section of our show; or it could just be entered in this category. We’ll only measure diameter, not depth—so a true dinner plate–really round but flat flat flat—would qualify. Doesn’t need leaves, but must have stem no matter how stubby. Can have open center and trashed bottom petals. SIZE IS ALL THAT COUNTS. So bring your bruisers to vie for Chad and Tom’s monstrous $50 prize.
DOUBLE DELIGHT: As was only fitting for the past-president of the Marin Rose Society, Paula beat out winners of over 50 rose categories for the Best Rose at the Marin County Fair. Even more laudatory, Paula dominated the dahlia section, with her gonzo Harvey Koop triumphing as Best in Show. Way to represent DSC, Paula! Jon Dietz crowed over two Big Blues at the Orange County Fair.
THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: Daniel Keys brought 3 of this fellow pleine aire painters in from Fresno to paint at the Dell one Saturday. It was fun to watch each artist choose a different section of bloom to capture with oil paints. First there was a blur of color on the canvas, then a bit of definition and slowly actual dahlias emerged. “I’d forgotten how difficult it is to paint flowers. I want my still-lifes back in the studio,” exclaimed one artist who runs a school, teaching drawing, sketching and painting.
HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW? Erik’s section stuns with fabulous Spartaci, AC Abbys and Jessicas. Sue’s shoots up a riot of glorious color especially her 3 magnificent Nick Srs. Sue, Lou and Pat post excellent laminated labels so you can readily identify the blooms you particularly admire. Check out the numbered varieties in Lou’s section; they’re potential introductions. Deborah’s section is already a jungle.
The Cabrillo Playground Dahlia Garden is 3/4s in bloom. Giants such as Wyn’s Neon Dream and AC GPS compete with tiny Rhondas and Irish Glows for the visitor’s attention. Many new varieties too like Clearview Pastelle and Hollyhill Finlandia. Curtis is producing daily bouquets AND sachet packets. John P writes, “ The rainbow has thrown up” all over his terraces. Bees are going mad at Wolfe Lane trying to pollinate all Carl’s blooms. His Badger Twinkles are 4 1/2’ tall! Carl remarked, “ I’m so happy working in my garden; I don’t want to leave.” It shows. Chad’s pals in the emergency room look forward to his almost daily floral displays. Iris has so many dead heads, that she leaves buckets of them on the road for her strolling neighbors. Tom Dietz reports that once again his huge white dahlia, probably Kenora Jubilee, rises with beauty in his Tigard, Oregon garden. He calls her the Immaculate Conception. Jon Dietz proudly displays his two major crops: dahlias and tomatoes.
AUGUST UPON US: How can it be show time already???? I usually water heavily Thursday night and dead head EVERYTHING that won’t make the show the next day. I stop spraying a week before the show so none of the blooms gets spots. Experiment with ways to transport your blooms safely. I remember 3 magnificently huge Kenora Clydes whose heads snapped off during a quick stop. Gerda wore them as a hat because they could not be shown without stems. So sad. Packing dahlias too tightly can result in petal bruising. Tinnee uses wine cases with Dixie cups in the 12 compartments. Several people use plastic setups for tree seedling propagation which you can buy on line. These are my favorite.
Now is the time to begin inviting guests to your garden. We all love to see how other people are managing the water; how they control dahlias reaching for the sky; which varieties they chose for this season; what sort of soil they build; which labels they use; and best of all, sending people home with bouquets. I love to add a sprig of rosemary or mint in my bunches to give a pleasant sent to my beauties.
Come practice deadheading and disbudding on Saturday mornings with me. Emily and her master potter friend came to learn just how to discern where NEW Growth is and how to cut down to it EVERY TIME.
How much should you water? Dahlias like to be very wet and then very dry. They will tell you when they need water. If they are erect and turgid, they’re fine; when they begin to wilt, they want water. The Bay Area’s weather is so crazy, it can be cold and foggy for days or blazing with dry desiccating winds from the valley that will suck the moisture from your leaves and stems in a thrice. ALWAYS bottom water; NEVER sprinkle overhead.
MILDEW: now that the fogs are seeping in, our dahlias are prone to collect mildew. Clear out the bottom leaves so there’s lots of air flow. Spray in the evening with Stylet oil. Spraying in the sunlight can burn your leaves. Prophylaxis is the best cure.
ROGUE NOW! I have dug up and tossed 8 plants at the Dell. Some continued to produce open-centered blooms: so, OUT! Other flowers did not meet show-level excellence. OUT! A couple continued to grow in crampy, curly, crummy form. OUT. Fortunately, I had some wonderful varieties in the wings awaiting space in the Big Garden.
CHECK YOUR LABELS! Now you can match your blooms to the description in the ADS Classification Book. Make sure that all your labels are correct. Update your dahlia garden map and your xl spread sheet. Everyone reports some surprises: tubers that purported to be one variety, actually turn out to be something else entirely.
PARTICIPATE in our show however your can: enter, clerk, set up tables, host at the membership spot, be a roving ambassador to explain to the public what they’re seeing. Invite all your friends, neighbors, family and biz colleagues.
Yours in dirt,
Photo credits: Baker, Demeter, D. Dietz, J. Dietz, T. Dietz, Joseph, Lee, Maxwell, Phan, Wallace
Webmaster and layout: Devorah Joseph
Snailmail: Pat Hunter