To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: August 2019 Newsletter
NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, August 13th at 7:00PM at the Hall of Flowers, 9th ave. & Lincoln. Program: Deborah will demonstrate and then offer hands-on staging tips. Come get excited about our up-coming shows. Who will bring yummies to celebrate all the blooming going on?
FINDING FINE FORM: Using dead heads that Chad and Cathy had just picked from the Dell, Deborah talked about how to distinguish the cactus shapes: fully straight on cactus looks like a tightly rolled doobie, its petals revoluting more than half way; semi-cactus petals revolute but not quite half way; incurved cactus—must revolute more than half way AND curve upwards. Deborah exhorted our members to learn how to use their ADS Classification Books to key out their blooms. She invited them to come by the Dell on a Saturday morning to practice their identification skills.
GENEROSITY OF FRIENDS: Ah! Strawberries straight from Cathy’s patch to our mouths. So succulent. Bite-sized strudels from Gino. Thank you to Pat (who ALWAYS brings something) for her chips, juice and cherries. Tenaya tempted us with Pepperidge Farm cookies. John & Annette and Maggie Z. donated cookies. Lola brought trail mix. The new Berkeley Maggie brought us brownies. We all walked out with armfuls of Meyers Lemons from Ron and JoAnn’s giving tree. Some people even walked out with Deborah’s demonstration flowers.
IDENTIFY YOURSELF! Pat has offered to make ID badges so people will be able to spot you at our show and at our meeting. Please contact Pat if you want an official Dahlia Society of California name badge. Dahliasocietyggp@gmail.com
ON WITH THE SHOW! Our Dahlia Society of California hosts its annual show August 17-18. We need everyone to help out! On Friday @4 PM we need help erecting and placing over 100 tables. Exhibitors may stage their blooms from 8 PM Friday night through 9 AM Saturday morning. All exhibits must be in place and things cleaned up by 9 AM. Anyone interested might come by Friday evening or early (5 AM?) Saturday to help growers “run” their dahlias to their proper spots on the show bench. Judging instructions will begin at 9:15. Who wants to clerk? Please contact Deborah, email@example.com to get on the clerking list. Thank you Maggie and Don for volunteering for the first shift at our membership table. We still need volunteers for Saturday afternoon and Sunday. (Contact Deborah) Thank you to Lola for shouldering “kitchen duty” –truly major. We still need roving “ambassadors” who mill through the crowd and answer the public’s questions.
Download this poster, print it out and spread it around (CLICK HERE). Use this jpg file (CLICK HERE) to post on social media and send to all your friends, neighbors and co-workers. We put in so much work for our Gala Exhibition/Competition, that we want as many people as possible to come enjoy it.
TO SHOW OR NOT TO SHOW?
This is a reprise from an article Deborah wrote for the ADS Bulletin.
We all look forward to our annual dahlia competitions. But so often I hear new members saying they prefer to just “grow for fun” rather than put their blooms up for the judges. Perhaps they are daunted by the superior flowers of the veteran bloomerati; perhaps they are flummoxed by what might be involved; perhaps they think it might require too much effort. Here are a few reasons why I encourage our new members to show at our Major Floribunda Big Show—even if it’s only 2-3 entries.
Surely the first dahlia competition began when two aficionados eyed each others plants and decided whose grew better — or argued about it. What began as bragging rights evolved into ribbons, trophies and prizes. So the first reason for entering a dahlia competition is: Glory. I remember Chloe’s expression when she won a ribbon almost as large as her 6 year old face. I have seen the first blue ribbon Tinnee won years ago still on her refrigerator today. I still remember the thrill when I first read my name in the ADS Bulletin for a Court of Honor bloom. Glory and respect reflect in growers’ eyes whenever bloomerati like the Paradises or Stiers enter a room. So fame and prizes constitute great reasons to enter a dahlia competition.
Winning cash can be a great incentive to compete. San Francisco’s major floribunda offers more than $2000 in potential capital. Some delight in trying to “earn” back as much prize money as they spent on fertilizer, drench and stakes in a given season.
For the altruistic, competing helps improve The Dahlia. Why does Hamari Accord have over 200 wins and others get dropped from the ADS Classification book each year for lack of blues? Over the years cognoscenti have redefined what a great dahlia should be. In the early 1900’s, the Palace Hotel here in San Francisco hosted lavish dahlia shows. Massive displays featured 10-30 dahlias—EACH! Strong long stems were favored. Breeders began selectively favoring upright heads over current ones whose chins nodded down towards their stems. Eventually this evolved into today’s preferred 45-degree attitude for head position. Flat dahlias with great colors were utilized. As displays grew smaller and individual specimen blooms became more emphasized, three-dimensional blossoms became favored. Today depth as well as height factors into a champion. ADS continues to define the dahlia aesthetic as hybridizers continue to push the dahlia germ plasm. Thus, as more growers developed Camano Pet-like flowers, ADS promoted them from Novelty to the new designation of Stellar. After seeing Akita no Hikari, Hollyhill Spider Woman, and any anemone, I can hardly wait for the next weird and wonderful novelty to appear. Winners reflect superior gardening skills and superior genes; the robust plant which resisted disease and thwarted bugs the best triumphs over the more susceptible. So each entry into a show constitutes a bid for genetic showcasing. The more a given cultivar wins, the more likely its clones will be propagated through out the world. So entering a dahlia competition adds to the evolution of healthier, stronger, “better” dahlias.
Participating in a show stimulates ingenuity. The mechanics of showing demand mastering transporting blooms. Moving a mass of humongous Zorros demands different means than bringing a nosegay of Rembrants. Bringing both in the same vehicle demands practical genius. I still remember 2:30 in the morning while setting up for the San Leandro show, watching in horror as seven magnificent Kenora Clydes, jiggled a bit too roughly or their necks supported a bit too low, sagged, snapped, and tumbled to compost before my eyes. Erik Juul ruefully commented they would make great hats but not exhibits. Living 2 hours away near Bodega Bay, Debbie and Art had to cut in the dark middle of the night. To meet this challenge, they tagged each bloom they wanted to show the day before with its name and number so it would show up immediately by flashlight. I first learned how to use the computer Excel program so I could spreadsheet my “crop.” Participating in a show means solving problems and learning how others have solved the same problem better. If necessity is the mother of invention, then showing dahlias is the Great Grandmother of ingenuity.
Magnificent dahlia exhibitions also educate both other growers and the public at large. How amazing to see 50 of the same genetic cultivar entered in the Flower of the Year category. What a great opportunity to see how the differences in geography, weather, soil, fertilizing, grooming and general cosseting change the same variety. Spotting an unfamiliar dahlia at a competition strikes a frisson of wonder up my spine. I immediately compare it in my memory to others to decide whether I NEED if for next season. I still remember the first time I saw Creekside Volcano on the People’s Choice table. Wow! It exploded into my consciousness. I NEEDED that dahlia. Valley Porcupine hit me right there. Clearview Magic nailed me. Wildwood Marie sang me such a come hither song. Few lay people realize that gay pinwheel orchids can cross breed with gigantic AA’s; they don’t even consider them in the same family. How many of us have been asked “Are they real?” “Are they difficult to grow?” “Are they expensive?” We use our Floribunda Show to lure dazzled gardeners to our tuber sale, to our introductory slide show and with luck to our society. So participating in a dahlia competition not only increases the knowledge of ones fellow growers but informs the public as well.
Lastly and most importantly of all, participating in a dahlia competition builds community. I remember clerking my first show. Jack Almand took time to explain his aesthetic and how he analyzed a show bloom. By the end of the table, he had invited me to tour his commercial garden in Alameda. His kind wisdom kicked off a life-long fascination visiting other dahlia growers’ kingdoms. When I tried my first triple, Vernon Rose shook his head and patiently showed me how to match size and color and how to cut stems the same length. Ken Masurat continues to bewitch me with his uncanny ability to improve a multiple arrangement with a slight adjustment or switching sides for two flowers; his inner eye balances blooms better. I remember when Serge brought a single spectacular Spartacus to his first competition; introducing him to the entry forms, the right table, the right category and a good container resulted in his first Best Novice Bloom. What pleasure! Dahlia competitions bring together the most diverse people: single and paired, male and female, hetero and homo, professional and blue collar, working or retired. Where else would we encounter each other engaged in the same endeavors? Just putting up tables, building the Court of Honor, passing out plates for lunch, and helping schlep boxes back to cars weave experiences of trust and respect that build our Society better and ultimately better society at large.
So when you wonder if you should participate in a dahlia competition—just go for it, even if it’s only with one or two flowers. Participating will change your whole perception of what a dahlia show entails. Your blooms will educate your peers and the public. Your entries will further the evolution of more glorious specimens. Your participation will strengthen your society and may spark new and wonderful relationships with the most amazing people. And, of course, you may win Best in Show and glory and fame!
HOW AND WHAT TO ENTER: Download the DSC Show Schedule. CLICK HERE. Read it. As long as your dahlia has its first two leaves and no popped center, it can be entered in x1, x3 or x5. From there the fun starts. We have categories for best bi-colored, variegated, floating waterlilly (no leaves or stem—just floating!) We have a special prize for Nature’s Oddity—you’ll know it when you see it. Several types or varieties are sponsored. Chad and Tom have put up $50 for The Largest Dahlia in the World. It just has to be BIG. Leaves, stem or center are all optional. Any exhibitor who shows in any of the above classes is also entitled to submit one bloom for People’s Choice; the winner garners the most public votes and $. Plan your time wisely. Whatever you calculate, double it. If you are a first-time shower, triple your time projection.
Download this “empty” sheet of 4 DSC exhibitor entry tags onto your computer. You will have to handwrite this one. If you want a Word document that you can fill in on your computer e-mail Devi (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will send you a doc my e-mail attachment. Then you can type your name and your number. Print as many of these as you think you will need. At the show you will fill in Section. Write A for x1 or single flower; B for x3 or a triple entry; and C for x5. If you enter Section G or K, (floating waterlily for example) You write in G or K. Please write the NAME OF THE VARIETY such as AC Abby or Belle of the Ball at the bottom. Circle your showing status. You are probably a Novice if you are doing this for the first time J Many growers fill out the name of the bloom at home the night before the show to save time. DO NOT check 1st or 2nd. The Judges will do this, thank you, no matter how confident you are.
SHOW PACKING LIST:
Frank’s Show Packing List
Scissors pre-printed entry forms
Water bucket pens
Towels 1-2 watering pails
ADS Classification book Address stamp
Xl list of cultivars Apron
Surgery gloves Show schedule
Fluor Lite Stylet Oil
Change of clothes
FAIR FEMALES FARE FAIR-LY FINE: Paula and Deborah both took ribbons at the Marin County Fair. Deborah showed dahlias and alstroemeria, whilst Paula won abundant rose prizes, as well a cosmos, hydrangeas, yarrow and other gay flowers. The Fourth of July date is so early for Bay Area dahlia growers; nevertheless, Paula and Deborah gave the fair-goers great dahlias to whet their appetites for gorgeous cut flowers. Jon Dietz, not a fair female, but a fair Orange County Fair exhibitor delighted himself with 5 Blue ribbons, 7 reds, and a couple thirds.
PROFLIGATE SEASON: As fast as you pick them, more dahlias develop. Lola says she has such a good time “giving away bouquets.” There’s always more tomorrow. Chad takes weekly bounty to his hospital. Share share share: libraries, coffee shops, exercise classes, dentists, radiology labs. I took dahlias to my garage and the oil got changed so fast AND my wheels rotated. Dahlias make every place a little brighter and more beautiful. Volunteers Christine and John finally reap rewards from their painstaking hours at The Dell. My brother Jon’s SoCal Dahlia Dome produces 5-6 vases a day right now. Spread the beauty!
AWESOMELY ASTONISHING AUGUST: Wow! I feel as though I should just lay a sleeping bag down one of the isles in the Dahlia Dell and catch cat naps between bouts of deadheading and disbudding. The moment my back is turned, more buds sprout! I can’t believe that it’s almost August and I’m still planting. I’ve pulled out poor performers and replaced with one of my many more successful pots-in-waiting. I have 45 out of 218 who have not bloomed yet. Wild, crazy year. So I suggest you rogue your patch as well; throw away any scraggy, crappy, unhappy plants and replant with something healthy and proven.
MILDEW: Grrrrrr! I am so frustrated with the powdery white splotches which threaten to flock my entire crop. POWDERY MILDEW produces enzymes that help break up the plant cells of its host. This allows the fungi to penetrate it’s dahlia’s cells with root-like structures. These structures, called hyphae, begin to create a microscopic web-like structure across the plant. This larger web-like structure is called mycelium. The mycelium blocks out essential light from the sun and cripples the plant’s ability to breath.
Once established, powdery mildew spreads quickly across a plant and through a garden. The hyphae rapidly produce conidium, or asexual spores. This rapid reproduction means that infections can get out of hand really quickly, so prevention is essential. In other words: QUICK AND DEADLY.
PREVENTION: Ideally, your dahlias are spread widely apart; you have cleaned off the bottom leaves. You have excellent circulation around and through your bush. You only bottom water and only in the morning. Alas, in our Fog-bound Babylon, mildew spores circulate in the air waiting for a humid moment to set up housekeeping.
TREATMENTS: Remove any leaf with mildew NOW. Spray with any combination of the following home or commercial ingredients. Sue has been using a 10% milk solution with admirable results. The internet gurus agree this works well. One Tablespoon Baking Soda to a gallon of spray helps change the ph and is an admirable prophylactic. Regular applications of Compost Tea fend off the white fiend reasonably well. A commercial product, Serenade, uses a bacterium (Bacillus subtilis or Bacillus pumitis) to combat dread mildew. I personally use a cocktail that contains a liquid fertilizer, Stylet Oil, liquid soap, and a spot of vinegar. From now on I am going to add milk (WHOLE MILK—not wimpy 1% or skim milk) to my concoction. I only spray in the evenings after the sun is down, thus preventing leaf burn. If yours are BADLY covered with drear mildew, I recommend the 3x3x3. You pick off every mildewed leaf; you spray. You wait 3 days and repeat. You wait 3 more days and repeat. So in 10 days you have plucked and sprayed 3 times. Then continue every 2 weeks prophylactically. I find it very important to clean out my sprayer after each application.
DAHLIA BONDAGE: Dahlias reach for the sun. Depending on their exposure, some dahlias grow taller than others. If you did not start with Hortanova netting, Now is the time to tie them to their supportive stake. I use a plastic string that Alan Haas gave me years ago. I call it Chernobyl because it maintains its integrity through spraying, rain, and reuse. Lou and Pat use a cotton twine. I have seen people use nylon stocking and tights. (Do people still wear and run these?) Cathy uses tomato cages. She reasons, “these cages help me keep raccoons, possums, and other critters from digging around my dahlias.” Also eliminate very low branches. As soon as a flower begins to form the top will out weigh the anchor and it will break off. Down the drain goes weeks of plant energy that could have been channeled into the upper branches. Don’t wait. Do it whilst these sprigs are small. If it’s a cherished plant, try making a couple pot roots for next season. After all, 16 4×4” pot roots only take up a 16” square. Let them bloom once to prove what they are; afterwards, keep them deadheaded.
WATERING: How often should you water? Dahlias like to be very wet and then very dry. As long as your bushes are turgid, they’re fine. As soon as they begin to droop a bit, they want water. In foggy cool SF, sometimes we go up to 10 days between irrigations. However, if the Santa Anna winds burn in from the Central Valley, I will water 3 days after I slaked their fierce thirst. Your dahlias will tell you when they want more to drink. Sometimes dahlias wilt a little in the warm afternoons but perk up after a cooler night. Consider erecting a sun shade. This brings down the temperature a wee bit, gives the dahlia some sun relief, and helps hold the humidity. Roy Stier sports gay golf umbrellas at Casa Peralta. It looks as though his dahlias have thrown a beach party.
GARDEN PARTIES: Dahlia! Dahlia! Dahlia! It’s time to throw garden parties; invite friends, neighbors and fellow DSCers over to admire your beauties. August is their peak glory. Share the Beauty. Give away blooms. The coffee Shop (Bernal Martha Brothers) who saves me milk cartons, takes ownership in my weekly deadheads. My library proudly directs patrons to the Dahlia Dell. My neighbors clean off their vases. Kevin Woodson used my dahlias as eye-candy bait to lure prospective buyers to his kiosk.
EXHIBIT AT OUR SHOW!!!!!! Vow that you will bring at least a few entries. Vow that you will volunteer to clerk, judge, monitor the membership table, rove as an ambassador, erect tables on Friday, or break the tables down on Sunday. PARTICIPATE!!
Yours in dirt,
Photo credits: Baker, Dietz, Phan
Web Mistress and Membership Whiz: Devi Joseph
Snail Mail impresario: Pat Hunter