To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: October – November 2017 Newsletter
NEXT MEETING: At 7:30 at 9th and Lincoln. Lou Paradise teaches us how to dig up and store our tuber clumps. This is a MUST SEE for anyone who wants to know how to over winter one’s dahlias. Invite your friends and neighbors.
Who will bring snacks for hearty dahlianeers?
Braving dreadful firestorms, Kate Rowe regaled us with her story of how she went from a home grower of 120 dahlias to 5,500 as the new owner of Aztec Dahlias up in Petaluma. She described her farm on the corner of Adobe and Washington as a good location with high visibility, but also a lot of wind. Kate wrestled the logistics of scale challenge to go from a few to thousands. For example, how many orders of dahlias do you think one person can fill in one day??? 40? 50? 60? Consider that for each cultivar, Kate had to find the specific box, thrash through the shavings and nab a “good” tuber. Make sure the label is legible; put it in a bag in a box and continue until the entire order is together. Fill the bag with shavings and put it in a shipping box. Completing 15 in a single day took major effort. Now imagine digging 5,500 tuber clumps???? Consider 2 ½ months of 10-hour dirty days. “Integrity,” Kate’s watchword, means that every tuber is what it claims to be and every tuber she sends out is viable. Aztec Dahlias go on sale Oct. 15. https://www.aztecdahlias.com . Check them out.
GENEROSITY OF FRIENDS
Thanks to Gino for the Hostess Cupcakes and to Pat for the shortbread treats.
Will Gonzalez, of Bouquets to Arts fame at the DeYoung Museum, and winner of the floral float competition at the Pasadena Parade and owner of two floral design businesses in the Ukiah area entranced our group. He took us through the conceptualization phase by parsing the appropriate entry in our Show Schedule. For example, something as simple as a floating waterlily for the 100th Anniversary deemed a golden bowl. Shimmering. Will taught us how to use available materials by foraging for snazzy greenery right in our parking lot. Who knew that monkey paws could so balance the bright flagrancy of Chimacum Julia? As Will talked us through the Fireworks theme, he demonstrated how to use oasis and ivy leaves to disguise a proletarian container. He stressed that larger and heavier dahlias should be lower and smaller more delicate dahlias should waive on high; likewise, light colors like yellow should be aloft descending through white, orange and massing around the bottom with deep red and purple. Will passed around “mechanics” like mesh, chicken wire, and floral tape. We all congratulated Lindy Soma for passing the American Academy of Floral Design curriculum and exam to earn the title of one of the less than 1500 papered floral designers in the world. Instead of corsages, Lindy created “body art.” With gold wire and double sided U-Glu she crafted a ring with two wee poms as the jewels. Lindy twisted more gold wire to produce a lovely necklace with dahlia blooms. “Tell a story” with your arrangement, Will urged. “Rhythm and scale are strong design elements.” “Experiment at home.” What a pleasure to watch creative magic first hand.
GENEROSITY OF FRIENDS
Many thanks to Pat for her lemonade, cheese and cookies. Lola’s strudel and Debby’s poppy cake provided lovely snacks. The Ko’s Perugina chocolates were sublime.
HEIRLOOM EXPO DAHLIA EXPLOSION
With historical record breaking heat scorching the Bay Area and blow torching fragile dahlias, who knew if there would be any “decent” dahlias still alive for the Labor Day gala at the Sonoma Fair Grounds. Seven undaunted growers brought their stunning survivors. Congratulations go out to Iris for Best Large with KA”s Cloud and Best in Show with Bloomquist Butch G. Deborah nabbed big ribbons for Best x5 Large with Eden Talos and Best x5 open with Mexico. Iris snapped up the $50 prize for largest which Kristine countered by winning the $50 People’s Choice with a return triumph of Ketchup and Mustard. Thousands of people trooped around our dahlia tables alongside the 30’ tall squash mountain and over 500 types of heirloom tomatoes. Cathy reprised her Big Win with a lovely Bouquet triumph, adjudicated by Emily Gettle herself. The Ko’s garnered both Best Novice Bloom and Best Novice x3 with Bloomquist Sun Rays. The Mortons stunned the crowd with jaunty Amy K for Best x3. Thanks to Beverly Dahlstedt, Pat, and Lola for answering the crowd’s questions at our membership table underneath Tinnee’s DSC banner. Click here for full show results. Besides dahlias, Robert Kennedy Jr. delivered the key note lecture followed by experts keeping the three stages in continuous educational use. Once again, instead of fast fatty food, great chefs concocted delicious items like avocado/tomato crispies and vegetarian sushi. Instead of mechanical rides, kids industriously dug through a mountain of sand or climbed and rearranged hay bales. Over 400 vendors shared information about all things dirt. Major thanks to Jere Gettle of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for providing the venue, guards, table cloths, ribbons and $2000 in prize money. Truly a gracious dahlia patron!
WHO TURNED 60?
Hard to believe that our ever youthful diplomat, Erik, turned the corner on his sixth decade. But where else would this rara avis celebrate than The Blue Dahlia?
San Leandro Show BOOKED
How wonderful to see Roy’s glorious Hamari Accord reigning as Best in Show although Pat Hunter’s Best A, Hart’s Autumn Splendor, gave him tough competition. Kristine’s garrison of KA’s Kaliesse utterly obliterated Deborah’s x5 Eden Talos; this big bruiser seedling promises to be the next MUST HAVE. Kristine also tantalized us with an A or AA light orange variegated called Cafe No Way. Speaking of Big, Beverly lassoed a 12″ monster Inland Dynasty. Wow. How great to see Porcelain back on the table from the Corralitos stables. Their Blown Dry, 2110, also turned heads. Tony Palacios fielded a lot of requests for his Mingus Tony and Phil. Pat’s Camano Mordor, a malevolent orangish ball, fascinating.
MUSEUM OF THE GIANTS
More humongous BIG DAHLIAS marched down the isles at the Santa Cruz museum than at any other show this year. Yowza. Iris towered with Largest Dahlia in the World, Emory Paul at 12.75”. Tom and Chad’s x5 Hollyhill Spider Woman looked like they were crawling out of their container: very creepy cool. Dave Macham, on his way to Novice Sweepstakes showed a lovely pink waterlily, Pink Martini, 7310. Iris accumulated Amateur Sweeps whilst Kristine accreted Open Sweepstakes with soooooo many gorgeous entries. As though manufactured, Lou’s Eden Benaries looked like manufactured golf balls in both his Best x5 AND Best x7! Lou’s Eden Predator lived up to its name by gobbling up the competition for Best Small and Best in Show. Go Lou! Deborah’s petite Elvira and gonzo AC Rooster put her on the Court of honor, too.
Our beloved Joann Dingwall will no longer bake us lemon squares or bring us boxes of Meyer lemons or sit at our Membership table wearing her dahlia pin and encouraging new people to grow dahlias. Our dearest Redhead knew her husband “Ronnie” ever since she was a child; they have been a loving team forever. Joanne is known for her kindness, her willingness to laugh, her affection, and her authentic sweetness.
Supervisor Sandra Fewer recognized Devorah Joseph at City Hall with a special award for her advocacy at Cabrillo Playground and creating the Dahlia Garden. Then two days later, Phil Ginsberg, the head of Park and Rec, recognized DSC for its Hundredth Anniversary one floor up. On our behalf, Erik accepted a lovely plaque and gave the council vases of dahlias and composite collages of the first hundred years of DSC from Model T’s, SF City seals, Official Flower Proclamation, and Parks Parties.
BEST PICNIC EVER
Our weird weather remained Goldilocks for once: neither too hot nor too cold, but just right. Soc and his nephew Jimmy from Cleveland set up three open-sided shelters for Jen’s fabulous catered meatballs, ham and chicken, as well as the salad room and the desert table. Erik’s gorgeous African prints graced tables held in place with surgery clamps. GiGi the clown, worked indefatigably painting fairies and beasts’ faces; the balloon artist twisted crowns, wiener dogs, lady bugs and other amazing creations. Not only did San Francisco’s finest firefighters delight fire chiefs of all ages, but the mounted police oversaw much partying and even left some prime manure for the Dell. John Dale tirelessly presided over the wheelbarrow “bar” replenishing bottles into the gelid bath. A blue grass quartet plucked rousing reels to keep our spirits skipping.
As soon as this heat wave passes, begin cutting down on your water and eliminate fertilizer altogether. Your plants need to begin thinking about tuber production; too much fertilizer will result in mushy tubers, according to popular belief. Check names to blooms one more time to make sure because when you dig, all the tubers look alike. Some labels fade over a season, so make them legible for another couple months. Now cut down to new growth very aggressively. November often gives us glorious weather and you can get a luscious last spate of fine flowers. I have begun taking stem cuttings from the little sprigs that shoot out at the bottom of my fat stems. I let them get 3 or 4 sets of leaves and then pluck them off and put into a 2×2 or 4”x4. I pop mine is light potting soil; others use oasis or foam plugs. I keep them damp but not sopping and under light. This is a great way to “buy” insurance especially for your valuable varieties. Toss in the garbage any poorly performing plants. DO NOT COMPOST. Use that empty spot to dig a hole and fill with all kinds of tasty “safe” compost: egg shells, coffee grounds, shrimp tails, fish guts, potato peals, and even tea bags. Last opportunity for colorful garden parties. Begin calculating when you plan to dig out your tuber trove. Count back 5 or 6 weeks. That’s when you should lop down your clumps to force them into dormancy.
Yours in Dirt,
Dahlia Society of California, Inc., San Francisco, CA — Copyrighted
Snail Mail Mistress: Pat Hunter
Layout: Devorah Joseph
Photo credits: Baker, Dietz, Fletcher, Gaensler
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