To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: August 2023 Newsletter
August 8 at 7:30 Program: Novice Only Mini Show. Must have dahlia entry forms with each bloom. See x4 at end of newsletter. Ca$h prize$ for first, second and third!!! All forms and x3 and x5. Remember, something is learned from every Novice entry. Please come early to stage your entries. (We hope to have doors opened by 6:30) You’d be astounded at how long it takes to stage and carry exhibits to the right place on the table. Whilst the judging happens, we will discuss Floribunda!Show Preparation! How to read a show schedule. What categories to enter. How to fill out entry forms. Where to find ADS entry numbers. How to enter a dahlia NOT in the ADS Classification Book. How to ferret out Washington Introductions (and win the Washington Medal). What is a Hall of Fame Dahlia and what is a Hall of Fame Candidate? What is a Nature’s Oddity? Deborah will be scouting for more clerks and filling in the positions still open on the Membership Table and Roving Ambassadorships. Who will bring delectables for ravening gardeners?
TEE IT UP
Erik demonstrated both his finer and his cruder containers. Purportedly, the judges do not judge the container, but….. Deborah mentioned that a Santa Cruz entrant displayed in a beer bottle and his entire combo went to the head table—so superior proved his bloom. That said, nice containers add to your presentation. Check out estate sales and the Salvation Army especially on half-off day. Your selection mantra: Heavy and Short. Heavy so the vase won’t knock over; short so your leaf pair will always be over the rim. Pin frogs can be found on line or at the hardware store in Japantown. Do NOT use floral tape to adhere! This often gives way under water and the whole exhibit falls over causing a horrible domino cataclysm, wiping out so many other people’s entries. Instead, use clear silicone caulking. Deborah permanently affixes with aquarium cement, enabling her to pop her containers into the dishwasher after each show. Do write your name on the bottom of each vase. In the melee during TearDown, helpers need to know to whom to bring which entries.
IS THIS DAHLIA GOOD ENOUGH TO SHOW?
Deborah brought some splendid early blooms to demonstrate appropriateness. She held up two darling NTac Elias and asked “Which would you show?” Clearly one was larger, more symmetrical and superior to the other BUT only had one leaf of its leaf pair. Consequently the scrawnier, messier collorette proved the only eligible entry. Deborah demonstrate a dainty Verrone’s Morning Star that had not been disbudded. She deftly nipped the interloper bud back to the leaf and voila! a superior entry! “When should we start disbudding our dahlias?” Obviously one wants as many blooms as possible. However, letting every bud bloom just means you’ll have a bunch of smaller, scrawnier, loose-necked blossoms. NOW is the time to disbud. You will get almost as many flowers and they will be bigger and stronger and more magnificent. Kalpana gamed ideas about how to make stems straighter by using straws or wires. Alas, these are considered cheating, but using slightly larger stems as sheaths is not. Go figure. Deborah mimed “Good Attitude,” the ideal 45 degree angle of the bloom on the stem. Sometimes a less than ideal attitude can be compensated for by adroit placement on the pin frog.
Theoretically, you would choose to display a small dahlia in a small container. Practically speaking you can always put a tiny exhibit in a big vase—if the leaves are over the rim. But you can’t put a big dahlia in a tiny container because it will tip over. Deborah’s Ginger Willo pom had a long gracile (polite term for not straight) stem whilst her magnificently malevolent Hollyhill Spider Woman had a neck like a professional linebacker’s, almost nonexistent. Would either of these disqualify the entries? Deborah asked, “Does it have its first leaf pair? Is the center intact?” If the answer to both of these is yes, then YES! you should show the bloom. Deborah contrasted a glowing Pam Howden waterlily with a soft orange Sandia Serenity WL. 2 leaves? Check. Closed centers? Chec…..aha! We looked closer. The Sandia Serenity “went to sleep;” its petals curled up like a peony without the sun. However, upon closer inspection, the center was popped—you could see the pollen. This automatically disqualified the entry. Deborah stressed that the public most identifies with the Novice blooms; this is what they themselves see in their gardens. Every novice entry teaches someone something. Please enter anything that qualifies.
Thank you to so many members who $pon$or categories in our Big Conference Show. Debbie stepped up to reward Hall of Fame Candidate and photos; Lou rewards growers of a number of Paradise introductions. Deborah loves subsidizing Best x3 BiColors and Old Fashioned Vase. Tony underwrote Best Variegated whilst Lola supported People’s Choice. Peggy creatively organized a duo with Tara for $50 for best FREE FORM ARRANGEMENT without foam. (Remember, you need not grow your own dahlias for arrangement entries.) Then Peggy teamed up with Lucy for $50 for the Largest Dahlia in the World. Paula sponsors the Best Junior Bloom in memory of her father, Ed Schneider. Steve munificently ponied up $85 for Best Waterlily (not floating). Many many more people have donated to other categories. Check them out on the Show Schedule. Consider what you would like to $pon$er next year…..
EMPTY SPOTS STILL?
Who knew that so many people still had NEED for more dahlias? Members snapped up Deborah and Tara’s milk cartons and cuttings including Red Velvet, Labyrinth, Blomquist Candy Corn and Sandia Candy Corn. Goodies for the garden and Goodies for the gardeners. Thank you to Lisa and Cara for the Santa Rosa plums and the cherry-plums. Peggy’s tiramisu was plundered. Pat’s super generosity provided banana bread, AND chocolate almonds AND exquisite coconut rolls! Brigid’s ginger cookies were gobbled up alongs side Tara’s Oreos. MMM. And most magnificently decadent, three layers of Godiva chocolates from Lola who knew keeping them in her home opened too great a door to temptation. Your generosity enhances our wonderful dahlia community feeling! Thank you all.
Through the miracle of Zoom and the tech expertise of Sarah, Tim Wong showed us a bunch of new seedlings at his Community Garden located at Brotherhood Way and The Arch Way. How did he get a yellow seedling without growing any yellow dahlias the year before? The magic of octoploid Dahlia genetics. Tim says, “116 Arch Street is at the intersection of Arch Street and Brotherhood Way. Anyone is welcome to visit the garden as we are open to the public between 9am-5pm without a code to access our gates. The entrance on Arch street is the best.”
TECH WRANGLER WANTED
Sarah has been dragooned into wrestling tech snakes at our meetings. She’s juggled the computer screen, harkened to Zoom queries, plugged in various cords and tried to increase sound. We desperately need a Tech-ier person to step up to this 22nd Century job. Who would be willing to work with Sarah to help optimize this amazing technology to include more people in more ways to participate with our dahlia society? Please contact Deborah or Sarah ASAP!! firstname.lastname@example.org Sarahsmith4444@gmail.com Please step up to bring our hundred-year old dahlia society into the 2020’s!
Fair Grounds Galleria 9th at Lincoln, Golden Gate Park
1855 41st St. Capitola
San Leandro Library
Any dahlia society member is welcome to enter any of these competitions. They would appreciate your volunteering to clerk on Saturday mornings, too. How great to attend multiple Floribundas!
2023 SHOW POSTER
Through the combined efforts of Erik and Laura we have these inviting posters. Please download your choice and send it to all your on-line media friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers. Ask them to send it to everyone they know. Our spectacular Dahlia Show and Competition is one of the last FREE events in our growing ever-more-mercenary City. We want everyone to hear about it and come join us in celebrating San Francisco’s Official Flower (since 1926).
Thank you to the volunteers who will arrive at 3 to begin setting up tables and laying out signs. Exhibitors can begin staging from 8 PM all through the night until 9:00 the following morning. It helps if you have pre-prepared exhibit cards printed in advance. If you do not have a number, you can sign up for an exhibitor’s number at the entrance to the Gallery when you arrive. You MUST have an exhibitor’s number. Print out the pertinent portions of the Show Schedule that you will need. Any dahlia not presently in an ADS Classification Book, MUST be submitted to a senior judge and a form filled out to accompany the bloom. Kauna learned last year that the warmer Galleria accelerates the opening of your blooms. So if you stage Friday night, be aware how easily some more mature blooms can pop center overnight. Jenna would be most appreciative of any extra blooms on Friday night; not show blooms, but blooms for her amazing Photo Op Stop. Clerks and Judges receive instructions at 9:30 am. Please Zen out a little. This is an emotional time for many people, stressful. The more we all stay calm and try to help out, the better this experience will be for everyone.
Kristi will pioneer paperless data entry. Three clerks—Chad, Ginger and Julie—will use their cell phones to clerk Novice, Amateur and Open multiples (with paper backup just in case…). After they affix the last colored dot, Kristi will push a button and voila! all will be tabulated: all winners for ADS, all premium$, all Sweepstakes! Right then! Kristi has worked over a year on the extensive program and multiple data bases (including inputting almost 11,000 dahlia show winners) necessary for this insane magic. With good results, Kristi will promote the same paperless data entry for San Leandro and Monterey. Kristi invites the SL and MBS clerks to attend a mini-seminar on Aug. 20 at the SF show at 2-3:00 on Sunday. We’ll blaze a new trail in dahlia technology!
DAHLIA DELL TOURS
By popular demand, Erik and Deborah are reviving their walking tours of the Dahlia Dell. The public is invited to come learn about the Dell’s history, benefactors, gardeners, and dahlias August 12, and September 16 at 11 am. Meet at the Dahlia Dell sign at the bottom of the Conservatory steps. Tell your friends! Free!
SHOW VOLUNTEER SPOTS STILL OPEN
Thank so many people who already signed up—some even for multiple spots—to help out at our show. We still have these posts open: Roving Dahlia Ambassador Sat. 12;30-3; Sunday 10-1; and Sunday 1-4. Even more critical are the Membership Table positions—these have seats so you can sit down! Sat. 12:30-3; Sat. 3-5; Sunday 10-1; and Sunday 1-4.
LARRY SMITH’S QUICK TUTORIALS PNDC’s
Larry Smith has 3 more excellent mini-videos. The first shows how to pinch out or top your plants. He is so disciplined! The second shows how much he denudes the lower stalks of his dahlias. Lastly, he shows repeatedly how to disbud. These are only 1-2 minutes each. Check them out!
Located at 116 Arch Street right off Brotherhood Way, Sisterhood Garden explodes with spectacular scabiosa, marigolds, succulents and yes, dahlias! Tim Wong grows 300 named varieties and 300 seedlings. His show blooms etch out a tidy but artistic pattern down a gentle slope; his seedlings run riot all along the back fence. Lou and he examined the seedlings and marked several for second year planting including an AC Rooster-esque red stellar with an orange reverse! Deborah roamed Tim’s collated collection and coveted them ALL. We all exclaimed over the voluptuous and verdantly GREEN leaves, so Sarah wanted to know his chemical secrets. Tim plants with MaxSea and moves on to MaxSea Bloom. Despite heavy mist and dripping fog, there was NO mildew to be seen. Safergro Mildew Cure keeps Tim’s leaves pristine and does not affect his bee hive nor the song birds. Instead of planting in 600 individual gopher baskets, Tim bent hardware cloth into custom-sized trenches for each line of dahlias. Tim uses black line to corral and crisscross his beds, keeping even HUGE blooms inside the fold. Sisterhood Gardens is a community garden open to the public daily from 9-6 and enclosed in locked gates the rest of the time. Tim supervises 50+ raised bed plots rented for $30 each by local neighbors. Tim helped amass so many tools that they had to build a club house in which to store them. For bigger items, they got a huge metal walkin storage container. Renee’s Seeds and Gardens munificently donated so many seed packets, that Tim had to build a rack on which to display them. Another gardener built a little library filled with plant books and seed packets. Wow! Oh, don’t overlook the spotless greenhouse where Tim uses geo-plugs to start cuttings and other planters begin their vegetables. Go check out this cozy garden with plenty of parking. Take your family and friends!
SAN LEANDRO GARDEN TOUR AND POTLUCK
Take advantage of this opportunity to see 3 terrific gardens in the East Bay and then hobnob with bloomeratti afterwards.
10 SHADES OF WHITE?
What a great turnout for DSC’s Judging Seminar. How many blends are there officially? 5. Unofficially? 7! Light Blend, Dark Blend, Flame, Variegated and Bi-Color. But…..what about two-tone and varieties like My Robin, Nick Sr. and My Hero where the two sides of the petals are distinctly different colors? ADS is still catching up to the ingenuity of hybridizers! Lou held up Verrone’s Morning Star and explained how it began as an Open Centered Novelty until more examples of the same form pushed ADS into declaring a new form: Orchette. In demonstrating seedling bench evaluation, Lou shared the official color chip book which must be kept wrapped and in the dark when not in use to protect the colors’ integrity. He fanned the pages of 10 official shades of white and over 20 different reds and yellows! Do you know some of the specialty lingo: Popped or blown centers, stag horn petal, pig’s ear; ray floret, picotee, reflex, involute, or Bullnose? Check them out at dahlia dell.org. Did you know that the term stalk applies only to the area below the first pair of leaves? Lou stressed that although we seek perfection, winners rarely reach that divine state and are nevertheless, crowned BEST IN SHOW. We thank all the people who brought cheese, cherries and cookies to augment our morning coffee. At 10 AM Erik learned that Subway (which had accepted DSC’s order the night before) cancelled minutes before lunch, citing staff shortages!! Erik punted. Light on his feet thinking and Sarah’s sodas filled our bellies. Whew! Becky sold plants. Deborah sold some of Steve’s dahlia T-shirts. The ADS website has 16 modules for those who would like to increase their judging acumen—FREE! Check them out.
DAHLIA SIGHTINGS ABROAD
Erik spotted this rendering his garden dahlias by Gustave Caillebotte, 1893. Less highbrow, Deborah spotted this eye make up in a boite on Hvar, an island in Croatia.
HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?
Thank you, Nathaniel, for sharing how you’ve put a horse drinking troff in your front yard. Here Solas considers he dad’s handiwork. I’m sure the neighbors check it out often. Our ’22 Junior Champion, Abby, poses in front of her tall Cafe au Lait. We hope you and your mama bring some amazing specimens for our show. Lola has some big beauties brewing in Marin including the pinkish Andy’s Legacy and golden Canby’s Legacy. Leslie sent in these pix of wonderful dahlias at the Stanford Mall. Chad writes, “Here in Woodland, it gets really hot, with temperatures regularly over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in July and August. To get around this, we built the shade structure that you can see above for our cutting (dahlia) garden. We have also attached misters that are scheduled for four minutes every half hour when the temperatures exceed 95 degrees.” What a great way to beat the heat.
DAHLIA DELL DOINGS
Even during the so-called Heat Wave our Dell temps never rose over 75 degrees for fleeting minutes! The heavy fog has engendered major mildew issues. The leaves get wet and stay wet because there’s no sun to dry them off. Sue plies her right half of the hillside with milk and baking soda almost every visit. Check out her utterly luminous Karma Lagoon! Wow. Appreciate her beautifully laminated labels. Sarah’s Ferncliffe Copper and Dr. Rick overachieve magnificently. A stunner, Clearview Lila, quietly scintillates in Erik’s patch. Kelgae Ann and Veca Lucia make Pat quite proud of her section. The first of the open-centered blooms erupts in Lou’s half of the tear drop. Great to have new volunteers Danny and Minnie begin training their discernment with Elvira and the petting zoo. After half an hour, both were fielding onlookers’ questions. So nice to have John and Christina back for guest appearances. Billy and Dan house-sat in The Haight. When they drove back to Portland they ferried a flat of Deborah’s rarer varieties home to PNDC. Thank you. Good to see Geoff following our progress. Julie of Julie’s Dahlias in Lincoln, Oregon visited to see blooming dahlias. Their season has been even later than ours! Julie reluctantly left selling tubers and now concentrates on cut flowers and events. How wonderful of Tara to bring her extra Hollyhill Starbursts and Red Velvets to the Dell and stay to disbud. Thank you Lucy and Jenn for darting through the stragglers of the SF Marathon to help deleaf and deadhead. Lucy spotted this wolf petal on Spartacus. So wonderful to see Sarah’s whole family inspect her hillside dahlias. Karma Choc looks like molten chocolate with contrasting dark foliage. Nellie’s Rose waves diminutively purple. And Elvira just pumps out perfect little peonies! We have been seeing lots of lady bugs at the Dell. Have you spotted these other ladybug forms as well? Do NOT kill them. These lady bugs munch crummy aphids all day long!
AMAZING, ABUNDANT, ASTOUNDING AUGUST!
Maximum dahlia bloom peaks at the end of this month. How utterly glorious. Celebrate. Invite people over. Go visit other gardens. Cross pollinate! Amaze almost strangers by bestowing one or two of these fabulous works of nature on them. Share with your local library, dentist, health club, Senior Center. Put two chairs in your garden and share a pot of tea. It’s amazing how festive a little company feels. Did you ever wonder how long different types of dahlias take to bloom. Here is a bloom schedule from Bergman.
COCKTAIL OF THE MONTH
About a month before our show, I swap out my normal balanced liquid fertilizer for a Super Bloom. Many companies produce this. Very low first #; super crazy high second #; and middling last #. This gooses a few more bigger blooms just in time for show season!
Super Bloom fertilizer, to boost flower production Stylet Oil, for mildew Baking Soda, to change the ph on leaves Captain Jack’s Dead Bug, to thwart caterpillars, aphids et. al. Dishwashing soap, to help mixture stick to leaves Whole milk, to help stick to leaves and change ph Mildew Cure, to curtail mildew
Other people have gone on to use more drastic mildew measures since this has been an early and unrelenting onslaught. Eagle, Defender, Mildew Cure, Daconil, and other heavy duty commercial sprays escalate the battle. They thwart the crappy white powder but they also hurt our beneficial bees and other wee beasties. You weigh your decision.
CLEAN LOWER FOLIAGE
I am busy pulling the old leaves off the bottoms of my plants. This increases air circulation, discourages mildew and bugs, and looks a lot better. Now is also the time to remove enterprising sprigs starting on the lower stalks. You think these will yield some prime September blooms, but what will really happen is that as these lower boughs get heavier, their tendency to yield to gravity’s thrall also builds. Just when you hope to reap, you weep: the bough breaks making all that plant energy compost instead of trophy glory. Sooooo disappointing. Be tough; be ruthless.
Assess your dahlia clumps. Is there one that looks a little stunted, just never got up to speed? Are the leaves twisted and tortured looking? Are the stems wishy-washy? Do you see pollen from the get-go on dahlias that should have tight centers? There is something WRONG with these unfortunate plants. Now is the time to TOSS THEM. WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT! You do not want to continue to propagate this sort of mess. Throw it into the garbage; do NOT compost. Plant some alyssum or marigolds in the spot if you don’t have a potted “insurance” dahlia waiting like an understudy for the star to falter.
Gird your aproned loins and enter a few choice specimens in our show. It’s amazing how the event changes when “you have skin in the game.” Remember that the public learns from every exhibit. Volunteer to help. It’s so much more interesting to be involved. It takes our entire “village” to bring off this huge undertaking. Your time, knowledge and enthusiasm sustain our DSC community. Be brave! Be daring! Be helpful. Customize your entry cards and print out a bunch for the Novice Only Mini Show and for our FLORIBUNDA!
Yours in dirt,
Photo credits: Adams, Dietz, Donahue, Escribano, Fjelstul, Hendrickson, Jorgensen, Gaensler, Pettit, Smith, Tobiasson, Wong Webmasters: Payam and Laura