Spring really is here at last and our latest speaker inspired us to get our dahlias started. Nick Gilbert from Gilbert’s Nursery near Romsey is something of an expert, coming from a family where they grow over 400 varieties! Nick’s father was a prize-winner across the UK and in Europe.
We learned that the dahlia is prized across the world, and is the national flower of Mexico. Andreas Dahl (hence dahlia) a Mexican botanist, introduced the dahlia to the rest of the world following the Aztec peoples’ use of the tubers as a valued food.
Nick gave a beautifully illustrated talk showing a huge variety of decorative dahlias, with types including anemone, water lily, pom-pom and collarette types. Dahlias prefer a sunny position but tolerate many soil conditions as long as they are well fed. For overwintering they can be cut down—and almost always regenerate even if they become frosted. So Nick’s advice is unless you want the space for something else, (in which case you can dig up and keep in a shed or greenhouse), you can leave them in situ all year. Dahlias are also great in containers and mix well with other plants.
Nick showed us how to start off tubers, how to take cuttings to make extra stock and how to get great growth (fish, blood and bone is a good fertilizer). Dead heading is the key to a long-flowering show, splitting large clumps in spring keeps new growth coming and they have an excellent vase life.
Plants at the nursery provided a wonderful show and the great thing about dahlias is you can go from small and subtle, to as big and blowsy as you like depending on your taste! We hope to visit the nursery in future and they have our pre-requisite of cake, tea and coffee in their on-site café!
Our AGM is on 4th May followed by a 50/50 table top sale , (please note change of day due to polling station use of parish hall).
Visitors and new members always welcome.
Secretary 01380 830722