To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: AUGUST 2020 NEWSLETTER.1
NEXT MEETING: AUGUST 11 at 7 PM via Zoom. We’ll look at a few specimen dahlias from the Dell and Cabrillo, discuss form, keying out unknown dahlias in your garden and talking culture. Try to have a Classification Book with you, even if not 2019’s. Click here.
SWAN ISLAND TRIAL GARDEN: President Larry Smith reports from Portland: Ted Kennedy and I did the planting this year. Me and my pandemic uncut hair. Linda Taylor is new Director this year. Planted on, I think, May 12. They were planted in gallon pots about a month before that to give them a head start.
DROWNING EARWIGS: Here’s a nifty trick from Connie Thompson.
I had someone contact me this evening about how to control earwigs. A friend from eastern Canada introduced me to my earwig trap. It consists of 6 – 7 inch lengths with open ends of 3/8 inch inside diameter soaker hose ( Walmart sells them in 50ft lengths). Take a trip to the $$ store and buy enough small plastic hair clips or large plastic clothes pegs to attach the lengths to your stake about the same level as your flowers.
Have a bucket of soapy water ready and every couple of days take the length of hose off the stake and tap it into your bucket – you will be amazed at how many earwigs come out into your bucket and drown. Replace on your stake. During the off season store them in a bucket
TROUGH UPDATE: Erik sent in this first-person update:
You can see here that the Gregory’s dahlias are thriving in Marin in their huge galvanized steel tubs. You can see the brand in one of the photos. Each is bigger than a standard hot tub, and comes with its own zip code.
Not since “Caddyshack” has there been such a successful frontal assault on gopherdom! Their blooms will be peaking in August.
Alan and Susie are shown in their garden and in their kitchen with son Alexander–nicknamed “Tut”…
HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW:
Louise submitted these wonderful bouquets. These pink ones are micro Collorettes: only 2” across! So tiny and so cute. Curtis calls this “Random Dahlias.” Pretty spectacular. Lola says someone added some nifty melons to her dahlia patch to surprise her Tartan and hedge of Ketch And Mustards. Lola grows in a community garden in San Anselmo where it can get really HOT.
REPURPOSED COVID TRICK: Paula realized that certain masks did not give her enough breathing room, so she inserted stays—cloth covered venetian blinds, some still bearing names of dahlias past—and voila! Better than New! It was such a good idea, she revived her sewing machine to fabricate more masks for family and friends. So Clever!
DAHLIA DELL DOINGS: Great to see how many of you have trecked out to our Dell. John Phan disbudded and deadheaded. Jeannie picked up a replacement dahlia. Debby tidied up Pat’s area. Eagle Scout Nick and Erik groomed their section. Tinnee spruced things up whilst the public marveled over her Sheval Megan—truly a MUST HAVE for next year. Everyone appreciated the great legible labels on all Sue’s wonders. Tom Lin visited from Portland with El Gordo’s burritos—always a treat! Several families biked in and bought dahlias for their own yards. The public wants to know why the monster AA on the petting Zoo has a number and not a name. Lou always codes his seedlings with the year first grown, size and form. Right now it’s covered with giants. Special thanks to Mui who hand watered all the gallon buckets and spruced up the Petting Zoo. Who should come strolling along after sundown just as Deborah was spraying for mildew? Mina! Longtime dahlia grower and florist. Such a nice visit.
AUGUST AGOG: Wowie Zowie! The Dell astonishes! As fast as I disbud one row, more budletts appear. There is no end to the deadheading. What a glorious time!
DISBRANCHING: Sometimes dahlias will sprout from the stalk very near the ground. Pluck these OFF! If you don’t, they will grow and grow, maybe even produce buds and then suddenly the weight will snap the whole branch off. Why waste all that energy that could otherwise be going into the blooms higher up on your plant??? You do have the option of waiting until there are at lease 3 sets of leaves, pealing it off the stem and starting it in a light rooting medium and placing under lights. This is a great way to build up a “bank” of pot roots. Just think, you could have 16 4”x4” pot roots in a 16” square of garden. Wow. Don’t forget to label immediately. Besides disbranching, also remove the brownish leaves at the bottom of your plant. This allows air to circulate; thwarts pests, and hinders the proliferation of mildew and other bacteria. Keep the petal and leaf litter collected and composted.
CUT TO NEW GROWTH: Make sure you see evidence of new growth just below your deadhead cut. If snipped in the right spot, this will induce a hormone that signals your dahlia to produce more flowers, since the mission to make seeds has been obviated. Punctilious pruning should result in blooms through Halloween; rigorous manicuring will yield dahlias on your Thanksgiving table. If this had been cut at the first, second or third level, it would have stopped the plant from growing. It needed to be cut to new growth below the third split.
WHO’S EATING YOUR DAHLIAS? Try hanging some fly strips or painting yellow Dixie cups with sticky stuff and attaching to your stakes. This is a great way to discover who’s visiting your dahlias. If you don’t know what’s bugging your babies, you can’t take appropriate measures. Caterpillars feast this time of year. Look for their little black or brown turds. Since we are not having a show this year, you might decide to stay their execution in favor of future butterflies.
SHARE THE BEAUTY: I bring home dead heads from the Dell and put them on my front steps. My neighbors know they can take up to 5 whenever a new collection arrives. It makes sooo many people soo happy. I especially enjoy when the kids come over and debate their single choice from amongst so many. Invariably AC Rabbit, a variegated pr/wh ball, is among the first chosen.
Yours in dirt,
Membership and layout expert: Devorah Joseph
Snail Mail Saint: Pat Hunter
PHOTO CREDITS: Barens, Dietz, Gaensler, Jaffee, Lim, Maxwell, Petite, Shawaf, Taylor