To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: May 2020 Newsletter
TUBER SALE 3.I: Good news! Our cutting crew was allowed back into the greenhouse. Bad news: only long enough to take inventory. Good news: many cuttings still looked ok. Tough news: all DSC stuff has to be removed from the greenhouse by April 30. Thanks to Devorah for distributing the inventory list and setting up the PayPal account. Devi got us High Tech and great organization. Three hundred cuttings sold the first six hours of our sale. Gonzo. Each purchaser chose one of three locations at which to pick up his/her PAID FOR dahlia cuttings. AA’s, A’s and B’s were $6; all others were $5 each. You have to admire our Greenhouse Group for their flexibility and ingenuity. This cutting crew has worked so many hours to make these available to you. Please, whenever you have an opportunity, profusely thank Lou Paradise, Chad Baker, Tinnee Lee, and Pat Hunter for their dedication! Bad news: this limited Dahlia Sale will earn limited funds. Good News: we won’t be paying for meeting rooms and sale auditoriums or show galleries. WE—DSC—are OK! Plant some dahlias; grow beauty in your stay-at-home places. Share this loveliness however you can.
FABULOUS FIFTY: During the 2019 growing season 98 cultivars received at least 50 blue and higher awards in sanctioned ADS dahlia shows throughout the US and Canada. What award is higher than blue? Consider Parkland Rave. PR wins a blue for being the best purple BB IC. Next it beats out the other 14 colors to be the best BB IC. Then it goes up against the other 4 BB winners and becomes the Best BB which lands it on the Court of Honor where it beats out the two other Best BB’s (out of Novice, Amateur and Open) for Best BB in Show. Ultimately it goes against all the other medium fully double winners on the head table to reign as Best Small Dahlia in Show. Count ‘em: 1 blue and 4 higher. Of all the thousands of dahlias in competition, only 98 earned at least 50 points.
BATTLE ON MANY FRONTS: Our Chad is an ER nurse. His compassion and ingenuity are tested every day under normal times. In this era of Covid 19, he has been fighting many battles, often serving double shifts, many many days in a row. Because his husband, our Tom, is at greater risk for this marauding virus, Chad can’t even go home to sleep for fear of infecting his partner. Sleeping in his own bed, sharing dinner and breakfast, accepting a packed lunch, pottering about his garden, rubbing the heads of his schnauzers: the complete comfort of “At Home” is totally denied Chad. And yet he continues to save lives day after day. His dedication and situation has been picked up by the local newspapers, radio and TV. Chad elucidates the sacrifices and concerns of so many of our nation’s care givers. Read the first story which broke: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Coronavirus-Bay-Area-nurse-pays-2-000-a-month-15173216.php?t=bc2eab8e13&fbclid=IwAR0MQFrcOe8-FL_EyqDlWWXbOFL1RPTuPEmRqbyimYA3Z_6pH4B6QYYpD6w
DAHLIA PIX: This is the last month of tantalizing dahlia pix from around the world because starting in June we will have pictures of our own growing dahlias to share. Please send in photos of your early blooms to hearten your fellow growers.
ZOOM ROOM: This pandemic has been good for teaching us luddites about technology. We have expanded our horizons from Skype to FaceTime to Zoom conferences. Our DSC board held a Zoom conference with nine faces arrayed around the edge of our screens. Thank you, Devorah, web master extraodinaire, for enabling all of us to participate. Fortunately, all were clothed presentably and no one “streaked” our meeting. No decision was made as to whether we will or will not have our annual show in August; we’ll wait and see what the circumstances are closer to peak bloom time. Alas, our National Show in Wenatchee, WA has been officially canceled. The Marin County Fair dahlia competition has also been cancelled. Imagine Lou’s consternation about what will or will not go into the 2021 ADS Classification Book??????
ART GOES ON! Our Kevin Woodson was scheduled to exhibit at the Joyce Gordon Gallery this May and June. They have worked out alternate virtual tours. Check out
Joyce Gordon Gallery, 408 14th st. downtown Oakland, between Broadway and Franklin, at 12th st. BART
510 465-8928 | JVBGG2@gmail.com www.jgordongallery.com Keep Connected Online
facebook instagram (paintingflowerswithkevin)
Forthwith is Kevin’s artist statement: “Even during dark times of this pandemic, I maintain the belief that art, love, and human expression have never been defeated by fear. But, as I make final preparations for The Garden of Adornment, many local galleries post cancelations and shutdowns. My commitment goes beyond this May 2020 show. I’m dedicating the Garden of Adornment to remind us all that staying safe isn’t only about protecting yourself, it’s about remembering to keep your dream alive and to live for what you love. I’d especially like to acknowledge the galleries, artists, and art gatherings that were blindsided earlier this year, and wish everyone to get back on our feet, together, and stronger than ever before. In flowers.”
OVER HILL, OVER DELL: The 6 Dellians are prepared for floral liftoff! Sue’s Fort Knox cages have sprouted many green shoots already. Lou is staked up in his military precision and planted out. He’s using 16-16-16 in his planting holes. Tinnee has many caged sprouts shooting up. Erik and Nick have turned under myriad bags of chicken manure and begun planting. Pat and Deborah’s patches are racing towards First Blooms. Will Lakeview Glow unfurl her petals before Holly Hill Gordon? Or will Elvira sneak in a couple wee pink lovelies before the big blooms pop? Deborah is still busy thinning out shoots from overly enthusiastic sophomore clumps. (Check with her if you still need a few more for personal planting.) The wrought iron fence helps with social distancing, although the public is eager for information and glimpses of first flowers. Overheard from a man sitting in his car with his head out of the window looking at Lou: I could watch you plant all day. FLASH! Overnight JFK Drive suddenly closed to automobiles. Driving his car full of cuttings to plant, Lou was turned away in the Corvid 19 further lockdown. All the Dell growers are up in the air over how they might/might not be able to tend their sections.
HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW: Len reports: “ This year, I finally found the formula for making successful dahlia cuttings and I am amazed at how easy it is and how readily they take root. In 1987, we built an addition onto our house in Petaluma and part of that addition included a ‘Dark Room’ where I could do my own film processing.
Well, around 2002 I converted to digital imaging and the dark room turned into a ‘supply room.” That is to say that it became the place where anything that otherwise did not have a place to go went to retire … forever.
Now, I have found that it is an excellent ‘Light Room’ where I have set up grow lights on metal shelving with plastic domes to provide a humid environment for cuttings and heat mats under all. My cuttings and dahlias growing from tubers are going great but I am afraid that I may have started too early. I started putting everything out to harden in the day light hours and then into the garage at night to be protected from the cold and any critters than might chance to drift by looking for a nice salad.
I only have 4 varieties though and one unknown.
I lost 5 of the varieties I bought at the SF dahlia sale last April and this winter I erred in not immediately planting thin dahlia tubers as soon as I dug them up this January. I learned that last trick when I visited Deborah’s house last month. It was a real ‘duhh’ moment.
Anyway, I have a suspicion that the SF dahlia sale will come too late to plant anything new this year and I’ll end up with what I have right now. Which is far better than having nothing to grow. I expect I’ll have a real dahlia cutting production line going next February and many things to bring to the sale next year. Surely….there will have to be one then!
The cutting activity ended about 3 -4 weeks. Also, it involved only a very small park of my x-dark room which has otherwise , most regrettably, become a storage room. Here, are 3 of my now very vigorous dahlias that just 6 weeks or so ago we’re cuttings. They no longer fit under the plastic dome that retained the humidity. Also, I had a heating pad under them separated by a layer of cardboard to mitigate the temperature. I sprayed them with water at least 2times a day. I only made about 8 cuttings. It was not a factory operation.
Kevin has revived Carl’s cold frame at Wolfe Lane. While he awaits his dahlias, he’s sown a glorious crop of ranunculus.
Maggie reports that California poppies make for eye candy during her sheltering in place.
MAYBE MAY? Pick up your DSC dahlias at one of the 3 drop off spots. Try to be all planted by the end of May. Remember to pound your stake in FIRST; if you wait until after you’ve buried your tuber or cutting you might impale the roots. NOT GOOD. Remember to LABEL IMMEDIATELY. Don’t believe yourself when you hear in your head, “I’ll remember what I put where and label them all at one time.” Try to put the shorter dahlias in front and the taller dahlias in back. Use your best guestimate. Not only is this more aesthetically pleasing, it’s more dynamically practical and spreads the sunshine around. Phil turned me on to some Ammonium Calcium Nitrate that he bought from Amazon. A teaspoon in each planting hole works sort of like dahlia Viagra—good for erect stems. Do not leave succulent new sprouts unprotected: everything wants to eat them right now. Sluggo Plu$ can be had on line; it forfends against snails, slugs AND earwigs. Earwigs can decimate new plants in a single evening! Do employ gopher cages in areas vulnerable to infestation. These nasty critters can devastate you with heartbreak. They seem to know which are rarest and most expensive and go for the fois gras of your crop first. Len and Christine report all in new cages after Tinnee’s excellent hardware cloth workshop.
You can imagine my horror when I looked up from planting to see a wave of Hazmat shock troops cresting the grass and descending on the Dell. Fifteen strong in full regalia, the swat team rode ATV’s and bore down on us. They had shields and guns!!! Really scary and daunting. It took Erik 45 minutes to diffuse the adrenaline-rife situation. It seems that someone reported inadequate social distancing. What that someone didn’t know was that 6 people belonged to the the same family, lived in the same house and didn’t need 6 feet between them. Three of the 4 adults were doctors and certainly knew first hand about safety precautions. The New Normal is vastly different from the Old Normal. Whew!
I left so many clumps in at the Dell; over 180 have arisen with a vengeance. I have been thinning out these sophomore clumps by pulling half or more out and leaving only one or two still in the ground. I have been adding “secret sauce” to the hole that remains to fortify this season’s bounty. I’ve been potting up the extras, so I’ll have extras in May if you haven’t filled in your garden completely. Many of the extra sprouts I’ve popped into 1×1’s and nestled under l8 hour lights in my greenhouse. You could try this with your extras. When they develop strong roots (4-6 weeks), I replant them in 4×4’s. These can go directly in the ground to be used as pot roots next year, like squirreling away dahlia insurance. These take so little space and make you soooo happy next year.
Speaking of finding just a few more for your 2020 Corona Garden, call your fellow dahlianistas. Since we didn’t have a Tuber Sale as such, many of us are sitting on treasures we can’t hope to grow ourselves. Not only is it a convivial thing to call your fellow dahlianeers occasionally, but it could also yield some beautiful results.
Make sure your new cuttings get a little water EVERY DAY. These young plants have very fine hair roots which could dry up in a thrice. Once dead, these wee wispy roots do not revive. Keep them damp but not wet.
Yours in dirt,
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