“It’s not enough to succeed. Others must fail.”
Val Bourne has been a dahlia grower all her life. She’s not just any old dahlia grower like me, she’s on the RHS dahlia panel and they don’t come any grander than that in the world of dahlias. And so I was surprised to hear her confess today that her dahlias have failed this year. It seems that, in her garden in the Cotswolds, they suffered from hot days and cold nights in April and then a couple of late frosts.
This kind of news gives a warm glow to those of us in the cold, wet, north, whose dahlias have been in constant flower since May and have produced an abundant crop of cutting flowers. Ours have never been better or healthier. The truth, of course, has nothing to do with skill and everything to do with luck. I’ve been lucky, she hasn’t.
Val Bourne has concluded that she planted her dahlias out much too early and has resoved not to put them in the garden in future before the middle of June. I think this is much too extreme. Our regime is to pot up the dahlia tubers in February/March and put them in the cold frames. Our cold frames are twice the normal height to give plenty of room for growth. By about mid May, most of the plants will have grown well and developed flower buds. We plant out these strong plants then. We give the weaker plants more time to come on in the cold frames. This way, we invariably get flowers outisde by the end of May and can start cutting in June. This regime works well for us and I don’t think I’d abandon it just because I had some very bad luck with the weather. Think on, Val.