June 2016 Newsletter

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

NEXT MEETING: June 14 at 7:30 at 9th and Lincoln. Program: Suzanne Bontempo will discuss IPM, Integrated Pest Management. Through her consulting firm, Plant Harmony, she advocates for pesti- cide-free gardening. LAST GASP DAHLIA SALE: The final fine dahlias will be offered for sale. Who will bring noshes for hungry dahlianeers?


The last treasures debouched from the greenhouse: Nick Sr, Snojo Storm, Kenora Jubilee, Zorro, happy Hapets, jaunty anemones, Stoneliegh Joyce, Badger Twinkle, Verrone’s Taylor Swift, even three varieties of mignon singles. Devi, Pat, and Tinnee spent hours schlepping and setting them up complete with framed pix. Deborah’s milk cartons featured dahlias with training wheels like Parkland Rave, Lakeview Glow, and Bloomquist Jeff, as well as rarer special- ties like Valley Porcupine and Sandia War Bonnet. What a throng arrived to fill Cathy’s shopping carts! In order to be fair to everyone, shopping could not start until 6:30, as announced in our newslet- ter. When the gun went off, the crowd swarmed the tables. Veterans made suggestions to new growers. In an hour, more than 200 beauties whisked off to new homes. Unperturbable, Joe kept accepting checks, cash and credit cards (thanks to Sarah) all evening. Devi welcomed new memberships.

We finished exhausted but delighted. Thank you to all who brought yummies to share with our crowd.


With technical support from Devi and Billy, Deborah launched into her interactive Dahlias 101 dialog and PowerPoint. The audience asked why dahlia seeds don’t duplicate the parent plant. Humans only have 23 chromosomes on a double helix and yet every child is utterly unique. Since dahlias have 64 chromosomes on eight strands, the genetic variations prove utterly mindboggling. Dahlia seeds are truly the genetic lottery. What do you put in the hole when you plant? Every gardener employs his/her Secret Sauce: usually some kind of pelleted fertilizer, maybe bone meal, microrhyzomes, a little systemic anti-bug relief to get the young plant established, worm casting elixir, or black gold from the bottom of the compost bin. What is the recipe for foliar “cocktail?” Into the same sprayer combine a liquid fertilizer, Serenade or Stylet Oil for mildew, Spinosad for bugs and dishwashing soap for “sticking” to leaves as well as suffocating any eggs or young vermin. Use the amounts specified on the containers or a mite LESS. Frank recommended spraying after 7 in the evenings because the pollinators will have gone to bed and the munchers and crunchers will just be emerging. Tinnee pointed out that spraying in the evening prevents leaf burning sometimes caused by Stylet Oil. How often should dahlias be watered? The Bay Area has such varied weather: cold today, hot tomorrow, dripping fog or hot breeze from the Valley. Dahlias defy watering schedules. Deborah says, “Let your dahlia beg you for water. Wait until you notice a little drooping. Dahlias like to be Very wet and then Very dry.” In response to many questions about disbudding and pinching out, Deborah suggested, “Come by the Dell on a Saturday morning and get some hands on expertise.” Deborah concluded that no other flower gives such continuous bloom—from April through December—per square foot of garden space.

“Dahlias make everybody happy.”


John Morton, president of the San Lean- dro Dahlia Society, stars in several infor- mative dahlia movies on YouTube. Vicki Bacon filmed our Bloomer, prompted precise clips of wisdom, edited the segments, and posted them for our elucidation. John covers the difference between taking cuttings from pot roots or tubers; how to use oasis plugs; and planting cuttings in the ground or a pot. Really informative with “high production values.” Wow. Thank you so very much for these outstanding Show ‘n Tell videos. Google: YouTube John Morton Dahlia

In a recent visit Chez Morton, I noticed that John uses the “corral” method instead of individually staking each dahlia. He makes 6” raised beds for water savings. Joanna reported that in return for gorgeous dahl- ias, her pedicurist painted flowers on her toes. Toooooo cuuute.


When Deborah received a request from Mark Oldenkamp up in Canby, Oregon, for a few dahlias, she pondered how to get them up to him. Some milk cartons contained 12” plants. They would not survive mailing; they needed to be hand transported. But how. Here’s the creative solution that evolved: to John Morton by Deborah Dietz; to Jose by John; to Audrey Grace Oldenkamp by Jose; and finally to her father, Mark by Audrey with a little help from Horizon Airlines. And what dahlias could be so de- sired? KA’s Cloud, Jessica, and Mexico. Very peripatetic.


The Monterey Bay Dahlia Society will be hosting Virginia Walbot as their guest speaker at their June 10th meeting. All are welcome. Dr. Walbot researches the production of color in flowers, especially in dahlias. She’s always fascinating. Pot luck dinner starts at 7pm followed by 7:30 meeting. MBS’s meeting is held at the Simpkins Swim Center: 979 17th Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062. Come through the main door and head left down the hall to the multi-purpose room to the last room on the right. Any questions call: Kristine 831 566-2523


July 23, there 6 tours through Half Moon Bay nurseries, fish growers, farms and others. The cost is $30 and the Mortons say they look forward to these every year. Alexis Mastromichalis of Gold Finch Designs offers a walking tour of East Bay neighborhoods once a month for $15.


You are invited to the Grand Opening of Kevin Woodson’s ex- hibit at the Joyce Gordon Gallery Friday, June, 3 from 6-9PM. The show will run from then until July 30. The address is: 406 14th Street, Oakland. Our Marcia Hart just took one of his rare painting classes. “Amazing! I learned to paint fearlessly without a pencil, “ she enthused. Go give our man some support and treat your eyes to a veritable floral feast. Kevin includes several paintings of species dahlias he encountered in Mexico.


Are all your dahlias planted, staked and labeled? Do you have an area 12”x12” area? As Devi does, you could squeeze 9 4×4” containers into this small space to make pot roots of your most precious cultivars. As you strip off the bottom most leaves and sprouts on your thriving plants, instead of tossing the sprout, gently place it in a 4×4 WITH A LABEL and keep it damp for the next three weeks. You have the makings of a fine pot root. These will be wonderful insurance against some unfortunate catastrophe and a great source of genetic material for next season. Think of pot roots as Dahlia Gene Piggy Banks. Prophylaxis obviates problems before they occur. I like to foliar feed my lovelies every third week or so with a green cocktail consisting of fertilizer, anti-mildew, anti-bug, and dishwashing soap. Try to spray late in the evening to prevent leaf burn. Check all your drip system emitters. 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 keep an eye out. Note the cute rubber stamp my friend John sent me: Dahlias Dahlias Dahlias. So much fun to use. On FaceBook, I noted this cool kneeler/bench. It slides down with handles to help those of frailer knees haul themselves up or lower themselves to the ground. When you need a break, it turns into a seat. Clever and useful. Dismayed by muddy, slippery paths in your dahlias? Try laying down sheets of weed cloth; it keeps your feet clean and prevents weeds from clogging up your aisles. If you’ve spotted any snazzy cool tools or good ideas, send me pix with a little note. We’re all looking for better products or nifty ideas.

Yours in Dirt,

Dahlia Society of California, Inc., San Francisco, CA — Copyrighted
Editor: Deborah Dietz
Page layout: Mike Willmarth
Snail mail: Pat Hunter
Photo credits: Baker, Buyers, Dietz, Dramsted, Eliza, Fenton, Gordon, Kaufman, Muhn

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