To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: September 2019 Newsletter
NEXT MEETING: September 10, at 7 PM. Program: Novice-Only Mini-Show
PROPER ATTITUDE: EXPERIMENTAL STAGING: Deborah and Chad brought in 4 cases of still presentable dead heads to practice erecting dahlia exhibits. Deborah stressed “shallow and heavy” as the watchwords for container choice. The heavier the better to counterbalance the weight of full dahlia heads; the shallower the better to ensure that even short stems get their leaves above the top of the container. Volunteers from the audience demonstrated good, poor and symmetrical “attitudes,” or head positions. Ideally a dahlia looks directly at the judges with a lovely 45-degree stare. Deborah demonstrated how hollow big stems could act as sleeves around skinner narrow stems to bolster up the exhibit. Then the mayhem began! Everyone got to choose a bloom, find an appropriate container and work at staging it to its best advantage—despite poor initial attitude, or crocked stem or loooong stem or pitiful leaves. Reid and Jonathan nabbed a big Harvey Koop to wrestle into position. After proving his mettle on a lovely pom, Miles worked his way through x3 Elviras and onto x3 big Zoey Reys! Sam had fun with x3 Badger Twinkles. Andrew nailed his single; mastered x3, and set up a splendid x5 Areana’s Sunset. Major success likely in Andrew’s forecast. Chad, Erik and Devi coached from the sidelines. Thank you to all who stayed to help clean up, dry and wrap.
GENEROSTIY OF FRIENDS: Thank you to Devi for the chocolate chip cookies. To John and Annette brought a huge bag of madeleine-like goodies. John D donated several past ADS Classification books. The #codes are still the same as well as all the information except present awards. Very thoughtful, John. Thanks especially to Lola who not only proffered yummy almond cookies but set up and cleaned down the kitchen. It takes our whole group to make a good meeting. Consider how you might pitch in next meeting.
CHILLING THRILLER: Erik recently stumbled across this book ad. He fantasizes the harrowing plot: It is about someone who murders tuber clumps by sloppy dividing with a blunt dagger, leaving them maimed, blind or at best with broken necks–a true horror story! Let our newsletter know when you spot dahlias in the news—terrifying or otherwise.
HILLSIDE HEAVEN! Wow! Paula’s garden in Tiburon hosts over 3000 different kinds of plants including 75+ glorious dahlias. Against a backdrop of roses heaving over the fence, Paula’s raised bed features her newest and coolest. Then sprinkled about her terraces red dahlias fill one section, orange dahlias another. Paula has worked years to turn her nasty stony dirt into rich humusy fertile welcome spots for A and AA dahlias. What a triumph of integrating dahlias into an overall landscaping marvel.
LET’S THROW A SHOW: PREP: Promptly at 4 PM John Dale, Pat, Lou, Jenna, Nick, Megan and John began dragging out and snapping open the 100+ tables necessary for our BIG SHOW. Pat and Debby unfurled table cloths. Lou set out class numbers and Section flags. Miles and Reid dashed around making everyone smile at their youthful energy. When Sue and Valeria started cutting on the hillside, they discovered that vandals had stolen some of their finest blooms and smashed other plants. Soon Deborah, Pat and Lou uncovered the same horrible scenarios. They posit that the wretched thieves must have been surprised because secateurs were abandoned in Deborah’s isle and a bag full of blooms were ditched in Lou’s. So crummy and selfish. (Some of us envisioned our fences electrified; more bloodthirsty considered the possibilities of body compost…..) Growers stayed up all night or came in very early to stage their entries and “run” them to appropriate tables. We were so sorry to miss some of our “heavy hitters:” Kevin and Karen, Curtis, Chris, Devi, Tinnee and Tony. Roy reported that he picked all the winners on Friday morning and en route had to slam on the brakes resulting in nothing left to bring to our show. Nevertheless, by midnight our tables started to fill up. Special thanks to Pat for all the healthy snacks for midnight stagers. More thanks to Pat for the coffee and bagels for the blurry-eyes in the morning.
SUDDENLY SATURDAY! By 9:30 the various judging teams fanned out across the gallery whilst Maggie and Don welcomed our public at our membership table. Colleen and David built the photo op stop with exhibitors’ excess blooms. Wow! People waited in line to take pix behind the Wall of Dahlias. Brilliantly conceived, Colleen! Thanks to Jon and Lola our lunch buffet welcomed the weary arbiters. Meanwhile, John D quietly kept the Dahlia Society area swept up and tidy. Many friends of DSC attended: Mike and Martha; the Lombardos including rugby-playing Chloe, Amaha, Larry and Pam; Kian, and Mina.
CALAMITY AVERTED: after 7 ½ hours watering the Dell on Thursday, Deborah watched in horror as her big toe and ankles swole up. Gout! She could not walk. She built a little nest by the bathroom and plotted about renting a wheelchair. At midnight her Tustin brother called, “I’m flying up. I’ll be your slave for the weekend.” Wow. Indeed, Deborah’s brother Jon flew in, got her a wheelchair and loaded her cases of vases into the Element. He picked her pride from the Dell and transported them all to the Show Hall. Jon carried all Deborah’s entries to their appointed places. He pitched in with lunch prep, he helped build the dahlia wall, he took hundreds of photos for people with dahlias, and then he scoured the room at tear down for all the vases, and refilled Deborah’s garage. Jon had just come off kicking petal at the Orange County Fair Dahlia Show garnering 25 Blue ribbons. Nevertheless, he was stunned by the exponential leap in quality of blooms at our show. Surely more a superhero than a slave! Clearly Best Brother in Show.
WINNERS WINNERS WINNERS! Kristine Albrecht swept the show handily earning Open Sweepstakes. Lou, no slouch, amalgamated Amateur Sweeps. And much to her surprise, Sue swept Novices with fabulous blooms. Miles and Reid proudly waved their glorious Junior Sweepstakes streamers for everyone to see. Paula’s lovely picture of Irish Blackheart snapped up Best Photo. Looming in at 11 ¾” Samantha’s Pennhill Watermelon just edged out Iris’s gigantic Maki for LARGEST DAHLIA IN THE WORLD. Way to go, newcomer Sam!!!! Out of 9 remarkable candidates, the People chose Iris’s Purple Flame.
DENOUMENT: Not only did Colleen mount the fabulous Dahlia Wall, she also brought a dozen buckets to collect contributions of still-lovely specimens for Family House where families stay when loved ones are in the hospital for extended periods of time. Thank you to all who lept into the tear down fray. Lola brought plastic bags to send the last of our luncheon to deserving homes. Both Lola and Kristine brought huge boxes of tomatoes and other veggies from their gardens to share. SOOOOO delicious. Nicholas blithely carried photo screens under one arm! All that rowing has made him so strong. The Junior families, Geraci and Tehrani adults broke down tables and stacked them away. Soon there were but memories, 10 new memberships and lots of e-mails for our tuber sale left. Thank you to everyone who contributed to another beautiful success!
NEW AND COOL: The first show of the year surprises us with new varieties of dahlias and re-appreciation of older ones we’d overlooked. Our DSC show delivered a payload of stunning examples. By far the largest loomed Chad’s rambunctious My Hero, AA ID Pr. Snazzy purples included Iris’s AC Kira, 3509, BB lC; and Lou’s Allen’s High Voltage, 2109 B ID. For the variegated category stood a robust Heather, 2214, B SC and a lovely Clearview Splash, 2414, B IC. Iris must have been planting for weddings with her stunning new white blooms: Edelweis, 7001, ST and Sandia Isa, 7301, WL. If not white, then calmly cream, GG’s Sandra Lea. Two radiant reds were Lou’s Allen’s Blackbeard, 3507 BB LC and Kristine’s GG’s Noel, 1206, A SC. Proudly wearing the ribbon for Best Large x3 was Maks Lori Jean, 2202, B SC. Cute darlings, Becca D x3 danced for the judges, 9006. What a blast from the past—Bonaventure, from 1982, used to vie for largest in show. But how rare to see FIVE big basketball Bonaventure’s staged so artfully by Kristine! Wow!
SEEDLINGS: A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE? Kristine’s 8910 seedling triumphed as Best in Show nudging out Lou’s Best Fully Double Small, 2018 seedling. The future is here! Check out Lou’s first year dainty pink fim and his ruffled yellow second year.
ONLY TWO SHOW OPPORTUNITIES LEFT: San Leandro hosts its annual show at the San Leandro Library Sept. 7-8. Their show schedule is on line. The library is air conditioned and next door to Casa Peralta where you can check out Roy and Tony’s dahlia garden. The Heirloom Expo unfurls in Santa Rosa September 10,11,12 with set up from 7 PM Monday September 9th, evening until 8 am Tuesday morning. The show rules are on the Heirloom Expo website. Free admission and parking, if you show.
FINGER LICKIN’ POTLUCK PARTY: Once again Erik has organized a fabulous picnic at the Dahlia Dell. If you want to help set up, arrive @9 am. Otherwise the Potluck kicks off at noon. As usual, Erik has requested the fire truck, mounted police, and the talented Gigi the Clown face painter par excellence. You bring a dish to share and prepare to make a list of your favorite dahlias to plant next year. In the past, people have brought Scrabble or checkers. Be aware: Labile temperatures. We have had Siberian picnics, blistering hot picnics, and drenching rain picnics. Who knows what September 7 will bring. Sometimes we get a temperature range of 25 degrees and crazy weather all on the same day. BE PREPARED. No matter what, it’s wonderful fun and a great way to talk to friends and meet new friends.
SUMPTUOUS SEPTEMBER: Keep cutting back to new growth aggressively. This way you might have dahlias adorn your Thanksgiving table. Mildew? Follow the directions in August’s newsletter. Strip ALL the affected leaves. Spray. Wait 3 days. Spray again. Wait 3 days and spray again. Your somewhat naked plants may sprout with new glory and give you at least 2 more months of blooming flush.
Stop fertilizing. As the light begins to wane, dahlias sense it’s time to start building tubers. Many growers have correlated late season fertilizer with poor storage of tubers. Unless we have REALLY hot weather, you can also cut back on watering. Make your darling dahlias ASK for water. You’ll know; they’ll look just a little limp.
Check the names against the ADS Classification Book. Key out your unknowns or bring flowers to some of the senior growers to help with identification. Remember Lou’s admonition, “A dahlia without a name is just another weed.” Take notes about which ones you want to keep next year, which ones are good enough for our tuber sale and which ones should be tossed. If you grow 2 or more of any 1 variety, decide which produces the better blooms. Mark it thusly. Unless you have an eidetic memory, you’ll forget when you really need the information.
Throw another garden party. Share your bounteous glory with friends. Infect some new growers with dahlia addiction. Sometimes I’m just happy standing in the middle of the Dell with jaunty petals dancing in the breeze. Attend our annual Dahlia Dell Potluck Sept. 7. Show at the San Leandro Show and at the Heirloom Expo where every blue ribbon win$ ca$h.
Special thanks to Craig and Joe for their beautiful photos from the Dell in these last four paragraphs.
Yours in dirt,
Photo credits: Albrecht, Baker, Brown, Demeter, Dietz, Dietz, Gaensler, Kaiser, Petit
Membership and layout: Devorah Joseph
Snail mail mistress: Patricia Hunter