There will be NO meeting in January. We will resume in-person and zoom meetings in February.
Wow! Did Jenna and Pat deck the halls of our plain little meeting room! Bright table cloths, center decorations, a full bar!! and such a splendid layout of pilfer able presents. Especially festive: Jenna decked a huge Santa’s sleigh with utensils, napkins and plates to set the tone for the glorious buffet feast. Dave who came in from Sacratomato-land gushed, “I thought there would be just a bunch of cheese platters, but look at all this amazing home-made food!” Indeed, Lisa’s cabbage and walnut salad disappeared in a twinkling; both Ellen and Tara’s caesar salads slid down gullets; Cara’s fruit salad twinkled. Kalperna brought comfort MacCheese; Karen reprised her amazing chili relleno casserole from yesteryear; DJ and Jenna whipped out a lusty meat lasagna; Deborah’s festive chicken curry pleased many. Thanks to Greg and Kauna for their egg rolls and chicken kabobs and to Paul for his teriyaki. Erik brought an entire ham! And the desserts! Some people started with Pat’s assorted cookies, or dug into Steve’s mountain of fresh raspberries! Lucy’s stollen and Tanya’s Chocolate Pie sated sweet cravings. Besides Tim who brought wine, who tricked out our bar with so many excellent choices? So many delicious choices!
SUDDENLY WHAT SHOULD APPEAR?
A clammer and banging on our windows alerted everyone that Santa wanted to join our party. He predicted that good boys and girls —the ones who brought their extra tubers to the Tuber Sale in April—would have glorious gardens and that lazy or naughty kids would end up with weeds!
Steve passed out lottery numbers and Deborah refereed. DCSers uncovered wonderful surprises: a whole box of dahlia magnets, bulbs, vases, a seed kit, a watering pail, and an inexplicable huge glass cone. Alas, very few DCSers braved larceny. A garden journal with colored pencils passed hands to the frozen point. The most fraught gift proved a beautiful Dahlia Photo Book swiped thrice nicely. Strangely, we had 3 gifts left over for a final redraw. Rousing! Thank you Secret Santas!
Thank you too, to all the people who pitched in to help clean up. Deborah was appreciative of all the people who left their dirty forks for her greenhouses adventures. Jenna brought doggie bags so people could continue tastes of holiday beyond our party. Many people commented later on how lovely it was to have Lisa’s daughter, Soraya, amongst us. Her youthful joy added an extra sparkle to our twinkling evening.
GARDENERS’ CHRISTMAS POEM
Thanks to Lynn B. for sending in this rewrite of Twas the Night Before Christmas by Marianne Binetti.
T’was the night before Christmas and all through the yard,
Not a gift was given, nor even a card.
The tools were all hung in the carrot with care
With hopes that St. Nicholas soon would repair.
The shovel with blade all rusty and cracked,
The pitchfork still shiny, but handle it lacked.
When out on my lawn (it’s brown and abused)
I could see poor old Santa looking confused.
No list had been left for Santa to see,
No gifts were under the tree.
But wait, there’s still time, its not Christmas yet
And the gardening gifts are the quickest to get.
You can forget the silk tie, the fluffy new sweater,
give something to make the garden grow better.
If she wants a gift shiny, then don’t be a fool,
it’s not a dumb diamond, but a sparkling new tool.
If fragrance is listed, you can for get French perfume,
It’s a pile of manure that’ll make gardeners swoon.
Give night crawlers not nightgowns,
the type of hose that gives water,
(Anything for the kitchen is not worth the bother.)
Give a great gift that digs in the dirt
It’s better than any designer-brand shirt.
Now look quick at Santa, this guy’s not so dumb,
Under his glove he hides a green thumb.
His knees are so dirty, his back how it aches,
His boots stomp on slugs, (he gives them no breaks.)
The guy only works winter, you can surely see why,
The rest of the year it’s a gardening high.
Elves plant in the spring, pull weeds merrily all summer,
In the fall they all harvest, but winter’s a bummer.
And so Christmas gives Santa a part-time employment.
’Til spring when blooms are his real life enjoyment.
So ask the big guy for garden gifts this year,
Sees, plants and tools, Santa hold them all dear.
You see malls may be crowded, vendors hawking their ware,
But visit a nursery, stress-free shopping is there.
Now Santa’s flown off, to the nursery he goes,
And his voice fill the night with loud Hoe! Hoe! Hoe! Hoes!
PARADE OF BEAUTY
Here is the first tranche of dahlia pix collected in 2022 publications. Check them out on thedahliaddict.com or on the ADS Classification site at dahlia.org.
IN MEMORIUM MORI
Ken Masurat died of pancreatic cancer last month. Ken and his late wife Marilyn presided over a San Jose mountain top of wonders: orange watermelons, giant pumpkins, blue golfball thistles and magnificent dahlias. Founders of the San Jose Dahlia Society and hosts for the barbecue banquet at our 2011 National Show, Ken shared his dahlia lore, especially his uncanny skill at balancing multiple blooms. “It isn’t rocket science,” slyly referred to Ken’s years working on space vehicles. Ken’s two introductions, Cristina and Dr. Karl live on as legacies.
For those of you traveling this season, check out this magnificent tapestry called “Garden Outside the Gate” by Mark Adams, 1925-2006. Adams’ design was woven in the traditional Aubusson style by the San Francisco Tapestry Workshop. It’s featured at the SFO International transit lobby.
Many thanks to Loren, a home-grown Santa Claus this month, for his bags of apples, lemons and fresh sea mussels. What treats! So glad to see Peter for the first time since Covid struck. Peter volunteered at the Dell and helped out with dividing pre-pandemic. Soc is always a welcome visitor. He was surprised to see Blomquist Jeff, Blomquist Candy Corn and HollyHill Black Beauty still pumping out flowers. While they might not be as big as their competition sibs, they happily light up tables especially in the cool multi-vase Tara found. Lou is all dug out and carted off in multiple treks on his wheeled sled. Likewise, Sue has begun the arduous exhumation of her tenacious gopher baskets, lugging them trip by trip home to process.
VISIONS OF SUGER PLUMS
Let these magnificent dahlia varieties dance in your head.
Happy New Year! Did the rains bring weeds and did the weeds begat weeds? Grrr! Some people lay down cardboard and cover it with heavy buckets or stones or potted flowers so it doesn’t blow away. NOTHING will grow under cardboard deprived of sunshine. It works, but it’s ugly. Another solution is to purposely plant a cover crop: fava bean, clover, mustard seed or any other variety that gathers nitrogen from the air and lays it down at its roots. Or nodding to the impressionists, you could plant early blooming wild flowers like poppies, cosmos, or marigolds simply to mitigate the brown brown brown.
Now is also the time to continue to improve your soil. Add leaves, grass clippings, bags of chicken manure or Zoo Pooh.
Where are you storing your tubers? My brother Mike lived in Boise. Given the dry cold, he could simply divide, soak in 10% bleach solution and leave his cleaved roots in 5 gallon buckets. Amazing. No rot nor fungus. Not so here in humid San Francisco. I store mine completely covered in vermiculite, in plastic bags, in cardboard boxes. Lou likes styrofoam containers. To keep your tubers dormant, put them in a cool (not cold!) 40-50 degree spot that stays DRY: garage, basement, under house eaves, in back shed. Lucy Bateman, the hybridizer of Ruthie G, had a huge underground “root cellar” from which she ran her commercial dahlia business. Walking down into its darkness felt like breaching a treasure cave.
What is a greenhouse? A way to encourage a plant to grow earlier, faster, larger, or more safely. Thus there are many many forms of greenhouses, The simplest is a plastic bag, a couple chopsticks and a light source. The fanciest, like our Golden Gate Park Conservatory, loom as visions of wonder. You can make a simple greenhouse using a set of shelves and shop lights. (Check out our website sfdahlias.org) Mark Oldenkamp produced thousands of cuttings in his dark basement crammed with many many such bookcase wonders. I have 5 illuminated shelves in my unheated backyard greenhouse. I just NEED something growing during these dank, dark months.
Go on line. Peruse the dazzling websites of commercial dahlia purveyors. This is dahlia porn at its most brazen. Allow yourself to listen to the dulcet siren songs of future beauty and awe. Buy some new treasures just to enjoy the tension of anticipation! Remember to ask for early delivery, March 1.
Yours in dirt,
Photo credits: Dietz, Fjelstul, Gaensler, Kaiser, Muir