July 2016 Newsletter

To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: August 2016 Newsletter

NEXT MEETING: July 12 at 7:30 at 9th and Lincoln. Program: Dahlia photography for fun and profit. Tips and tricks about dahlia picture taking that can earn you dollars at our mini-shows. We will also have sign ups to help at our big Floriganza, Aug. 20-21. Who will bring goodies to share with hungry dahlianistas?


Armed with great slides and many hand-outs, Suzanne exhorted us to gar- den as naturally as we possibly can. Even dahlianistas should encourage a little biodiversity. She recommends sprinkling in a few cosmos and alys- sum which “invite our beneficial friends (bugs).” She illustreated the six stages of thrip life and how we could deploy nematodes to hunt them down during their time of life in the soil. Suzanne often cited Guide to Common Sense Pest Control, as “the Bible” when it comes to working out greener strategies. She went so far as to suggest hanging owl boxes because they are wonderful hunters of little varmints. Compost and “mulch like mad,” she urged. Most of all, Suzanne asked us to read very carefully the so- called “green” pesticides. “Cide means kill,” she explained, inferring that even milder solutions KILL something.

If we have follow-up questions: Suzanne@plantharmony.org


Thanks to Tinnee for bringing the last of the wonderful cuttings from the greenhouse including Nick Sr., Snojo Storm, and Red Stilletto. Deborah’s milk cartons held Hapet Perfekt, Mexico, Ivanetti, Paul Z, Pennhill Watermellon, and Valley Porcupine. Baker Bill donated sprouted tubers and milk cartons of Inland Dynasty and Ana Lisa. Obviously people had some last minute garden holes to fill. Ron and Joann brought in some fig tree cuttings for variety. Delicious thanks to John and Annette for their coconut bites and to Pat for her healthy, succulent green grapes: we’re grapeful. Billy and Tony were thinking alike by offering apple squares and apricot tarts, repectively. Gino tempted us with a dozen glazed donunts. Cathy drove all the way down from Kenwood with exquisite chocolate almand cookies and irresistible green onion cakes from Fung Sung bakery. Ah, we live so well.


Tinnee announced that it will be our HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY next year. What shall we do to celebrate???? Please think on this long and hard and talk with your fellow DCSers. This is a huge milestone. Let’s do something significant.

Colleen, who devised the fabulous photo op station at our show last year, asked our group for suggestions on how to improve this year. Yes, it’s not tooooo early to make this our best show ever. Frank urged everyone to “Go out and take photos.” Each dahlia competi- tion has a photo section as well as the annual November ADS photo contest. Maybe your significant other is less a dirt person but more a techie photo maker???


Like gourmands, certain gophers go after the most expensive dahlias, like pigs after truffles. Phil Warden reports watching one after another new culti- var disappear under the teeth of a crafty rodent. Grrrrrrr! As the depredations sped up, Phil got to work. One, two, three, four and now up to TEN have succumbed to cinch traps. Phil had imported twenty bags of sumptuous chicken manure; his beds were primo. So enterprising gophers homesteaded. NO MORE!

Phil also reports discovering a special dahlia fertilizer on Amazon—Dahlia Fertilizer, professional plant feed– highly concentrated, full of trace elements which he adds to his spray “cocktail.” The proof is in the voluptuously perfect leaves, vibrantly healthy clumps, and spectacular bouquets already this season. Phil says, “Seeing is believing.” I saw that his stems are strong, his leaves gleam like plastic, his blooms are robust with hundreds of buds. I saw. I believed. I ordered the German Dahlia Food immediately.

(Click on the bottle for a link to more information)


Marge Gitts, the wife of Nick Sr, matriarch of a famous dahlia dynasty, died this month in Canby, Oregon. Long the doyen of generations of growers at Swan Island Dahlias, Marge is remembered for her remarkable hospitality and especially for her famous home-made lemonade and lemon merengue pies. Although Swan Island grew to the largest exporter of dahlias in the world, Marge made it feel personal and local.

(Full obituary from the Oregonian)


Judging School: Sunday, July 17 at Montessori School in Capitola. Who should attend? Present judges, candidate judges, those who have clerked, those who want to clerk, and those who want to grow better dahlias. Only by understanding the existing dahlia aesthetic, can we understand how our own blooms approach “the ideal.” Without a “standard” we have no concrete sense of good or poor. This is a great opportunity to learn about the difference between hue, color, tint, blend and blush. What are petals, petaloids, sepals, and involucres? How important are leaves? Come meet bloomerati from all over California.

Pacific Southwest Dahlia Conference 2016 Judging School Hosted by the Monterey Bay Dahlia Society
Date: Sunday July 17, 2016 Time: 8:30 am – 2:30 pm
Suggested Materials to Bring: Notebook, etc. for taking notes, ADS Classification and Handbook of Dahlias, ADS Guide to Judging Dahlias. (The latter two will be available to purchase.)
Location: Santa Cruz Montessori School
2446 Cabrillo College Drive
Soquel, CA 95073

Driving Directions
From Highway 1 exit @ Park Avenue and
travel east (away from the ocean) to the Cabrillo College Drive stop light and turn
left. Follow this around for approximately
300 yards and take the last driveway in the cultisac (Lutheran church). Montessori school is the first right turn off the church driveway. We will be on the far side of building.
Questions??: Kevin – (831) 596-0323 kevin@cgdahlias.com
Cost: Each Society must reimburse the Monterey Bay Society $10.00 for each member who attends plus contribute $20.00 to donate to the SC Montessori School for use of their rooms. Light snacks and lunch will be provided by the Monterey Bay Dahlia Society.
RSVP By July 1 Please: Kristine Albrecht (831) 566-2523 kristinexxoo@gmail.com

Schedule of Presentations
8:30 Registration and Participation in Judging Exercise
9:00 Welcome – Kristine Albrecht
9:10 -9:40 Karen Zydner – Form
9:45-10:15 Curtis Maxwell
10:25-10:50 Ken Masurat – Stem, Foliage, Bloom Position, Uniformity – Seedling Bench, Floriferousness – Trial Garden, Distinction
10:55-11:20 Lou Paradise – Substance and Size
11:25-12:00 Marilyn Masurat, Uniformity – Seedling Bench, Floriferousness – Trial Garden, Distinction
12:00-1:00 Lunch – provided in room 9, Judging Exercise
1:00-1:20 John Morton – Demeanor, Ethics
1:25-1:50 Kevin Larkin – Techniques, Applying Skills
2:00-2:30 Judging Exercise Conclusion
Team will walk through and discuss judging the sample classes.


That’s the mantra when ferreting out show containers. The Salvation Army at 4th and Geary or Va- lencia or garage sales or Dollar Stores prove abundant happy hunting grounds. Pin frogs can be pur- chased in Japan Town or on line. Affix with aquarium cement or epoxy.

TEST OUT YOUR CONTAINERS before the show! Leaking vases make yucky messes.


Bob Papp asks “How many times can you recycle the first dahlia arrangement of the year?” Put yourself in his place:

It’s Wednesday morning and I just want to have one more cup of coffee before heading into life. Instead I get “Bob, Where are you?” Too late. My wife, Susan, has found me. It is the Wednesday of Long Beach Garden Club’s Spring Flower Show. “Bob go cut me a bouquet of dahlias.” “But honey, it’s May. There are so few blooms yet.” “Bob!” “Yes, Dear.”

Where is the vase? The clippers? Something blooming? And where is more coffee? Well looky here! Kelvin Floodlight. Easy 12 1/2”. Amulet, damn do you think if I put you in the refrig you would keep till August? Gitts Crazy, don’t you guys know it’s May? Now just enough room for three blooms of Karma Sangria. “You better not make me late for the show.” Yes, Dear.”

So how did we do? They said there was no category for dahlias because it was May. So, I told them. “Make one.” Amazingly, we won the whole dahlia section. Next, we took the prize winning bouquet to church for the Wednesday night service. Well, what did they think? They were surprised to see dahlias in May!

Finally we dropped off our well-traveled bouquet to Rose. She is in Hospice care. While we were get- ting ready for bed I said, “Three plays on one bouquet: I’m pretty smart.” I looked over at Susan. Staring at the celling, she said “Yes, Dear.”

(Rose passed the next morning.)


Cabrillo Gardens at 39th and Cabrillo already flushes with first blooms. Devi has all her labels laminated and set with darling flower tacks. In the back she stashes flats of potential pot roots, “They get the same water. Why not? Then we’ll have something for sure for the greenhouse next year.” Check out Devorah’s work of love.


Keeping the dell looking good takes a village. Here are some of the villagers who pitched in recently.


JUDGING SCHOOL, July 17th Montessori School, Park Ave. Aptos
Monterey Bay Dahlia Society Mini Show/Staging Seminar
Corralitos Gardens will include tour, open to all judging


San Leandro Dahlia Society, August 6th & 7th
Main Library (Karp Room), 300 Estudillo Avenue, San Leandro
Flowers of the Year: AC Abby and Lulu Island Mom


Dahlia Society of California, August 20th & 21st
County Fair Building/Golden Gate Park, 9 th & Lincoln Avenues, San Francisco
Flowers of the Year: AC Abby and Lulu Island Mom


Monterey Bay Dahlia Society, August 27th & 28th
Santa Cruz Art Museum, 705 Front Street 95060
Flowers of the Year: AC Abby, Lulu Island Mom


Heirloom Expo, September 6th – 8th
Sonoma Fair Grounds, Santa Rosa


John Stowell Dahlia Society, date to be determined


Dahlia Society of California Picnic at the Dell, September 10th, potluck


Monterey Bay Dahlia Society Dine Around, September 24th
4-5 private gardens + potluck
Upcoming Dahlia events
(This list was designed to be fridge ready, so please print, post on your fridge, and join our local dahlia societies for their annual shows.


I just can’t believe all the incredible dahlia blooms so very very early including over a hundred at the Dell now. Gonzo. Besides the voracious gopher threats, there’s caterpillars; they love to curl up in your buds and ruin unfurling beauty. Make sure you put some spinosad or Captain Jack in your foliar cocktail. Try to spray in the evening just before the sun goes down. You avoid the possibility of your Stylet Oil acting as a prism and burning your leaves in the sun. After I visited Phil and Marilyn’s gar- den, I immediately ordered some of Amazon’s liquid Dahlia Fertilizer. “Seeing is believing” declared Phil.

Start cleaning out the bottoms of your larger bushes. You might pop a few shoots in 4×4’s to experi- ment with a few pot roots for next year. REMEMBER TO LABEL. Cleaning out these lower layers helps cut down of the bugs’ accessibility and lets your plant concentrate its energy where you want it: mak- ing more flowers. Don’t let these lower laterals grow: you will be so sorry when they get too heavy and break, right when you were anticipating blooms. Weed Weed Weed. Weeds are bug vectors.

What bugs do you have? Take a yellow Dixie cup, coat it with TangleFoot or Vaseline and staple it to the top of a stake. In a week, you will have a portrait of which wee critters make hearty party in your garden. These populations shift with the season, so put up a new cup periodically to check out your local denizens. Do you have any plants that are scrag- gly, low, miserable things? Maybe you should toss them—OUT—into the trash, not the compost. Surely you have a few back-up “insurance” plants to replace them? If not, call me. Keep only great dahlias that make you very happy in your garden.

When should you water? Let your dahlias tell you. They will begin to droop slightly, then you know it’s time to soak them down again. AVOID OVERHEAD WATERING. Use basins, drip, soaker tape or hand administration, but DO NOT water overhead. Practice dahlia bondage: tie them up. Phil deploys reusable Velcro. I use plastic twine. Up in the Pacific Northwest I saw old nylon stockings used; they were soft but firm, blended in with the foliage and held up in the weather. Start thinking about enter- ing our show. Go thrift shopping and nab a few heavy but shallow containers and epoxy in pin frogs. TEST your vases for waterproofing BEFORE the show, please. Practice staging some on your dinner table for best “attitude.” Participate in our Judging School. You will grow better dahlias as a result.

Yours in Dirt,

Dahlia Society of California, Inc., San Francisco, CA — Copyrighted
Editor: Deborah Dietz
Asst. editor & Page layout: Mike Willmarth
Snail mail: Pat Hunter
Photo credits: Bergman, Bourne, Dietz, Meggos, Moeller, Tompkins, Vernon, Walton

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