Delighting in Dahlias
August has been a month where my dahlias have been putting on a beautiful show of colour. Last year I chose to plant them in pots so I could over winter them in the green house. I am pleased to report that they survived the Winter, so I am continuing with pots. (Unlike the year before when I painstakingly removed the tubers to store and then they either rotted or were eaten by mice.)
Dahlias are beginning to rise in popularity again. People used to associate them with old men and allotments, where rows of flowers were grown like soldiers standing to attention. This has changed over the last few years and the dahlia has become popular again with both gardeners and as a cut flower for florists. There are few plants that offer such a variety of colour and form and they keep on blooming from July until late Autumn if picked regularly. In my Delightful Dahlia Blog Post last year I outlined the history of the Dahlia and the various classifications according to the type of bloom.
When I was deciding how to present my dahlia blooms for my August Posy Project I wanted small vases which would show off the different colours of my dahlias. I do have pale peach blooms, however my dahlias are mainly bold and bright in colour. I decided to buy Sarah Raven’s Stained Glass Vases in the richest vibrant purples, reds and blues. (Clever marketing on Sarah’s part as her Hot Dahlia Collection, which I also purchased, is shown pictured arranged to great effect in these vases!)
I had such a fun time arranging my August Posies of Dahlias! There were so many different colour combinations to work with I was like a kid in a sweet shop! To start with I put all the vases on the table with all the flowers. It didn’t really work as a composition!
The Colour of Apricots
My first carefully thought out colour combo for my August Posy was influenced by my apricot jam making. Inspired by The Great British Bake Off I had made an apricot and amaretto swiss roll and wanted to show off my baking skills to best advantage. I chose two dahlias which have an apricot and peachy pink tinge and arranged them in the orange stained glass vase. This gave a delightful peaches `n’ cream effect which would make a wonderful delicate analogous wedding colour scheme. Analogous colour schemes combine colours next to each other on the colour wheel. For example: red and orange, blue and green, violet and red, etc. These make really good colour combinations as they are pleasing to the eyes. You can combine shades of 2 or 3 colours next to each other on the colour wheel. When I was deciding on my colour scheme I first considered `Peaches and Cream’ with accents of golden yellow. You can see on the Colour Wheel that these colours all lie next to each other and are therefore analogous colours.
The dahlias used in this first Posy were Gerrie Hoek and Peaches `n’ Cream.
Gerry Hoek is a beautiful, delicate pink with a hint of peach dahlia with strong, straight stems and waterlily-like flowers. Waterlily type dahlias have shallow, double blooms, with broad flattish florets. Their broad petals are slightly curled up along their length, giving a saucer-shaped appearance to the flower. The disc florets are not visible. Gerry Hoek was introduced in 1942.
Peaches `N’ Cream is a warm golden orange and cream-colored Decorative type dahlia. The petals flow back toward the stem. Decorative dahlias have fully double blooms, showing no disc. Their petals are normally broad and fold inwards from the base. This type of dahlia is very popular with enthusiasts who love them for their colour and decorative appearance. It’s a real shame that I am on holiday for the local Flower Show this year as I would enter this one if I was here!
As a bride I would have had dahlias in my wedding bouquet if I had been getting married in late Summer. I painted this wonderful bouquet by Fabulous Flowers in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. It is a hand-tied bouquet of `Memory of Diane’ dahlias,` Margarite’ daisies, `Avalanche’ spray roses together with `Aloha’, `Vitality’ and `Alabasta’ roses. I love the gentle peaches and cream colour scheme. If I had got married later in the year I would have loved a bouquet like this!
Gerry Hoek and Peaches `N’ Cream worked well arranged together and fulfilled my creative aim of producing a fabulous image of my August Posy. However this arrangement alone didn’t show off my apricot conserve swiss roll to best advantage as there was too much yellow and orange in the image. I had to remind myself that the food styling was a different project to the Posy of the Month Challenge! I decided to use the turquoise vase in this composition as a complementary colour to the peachy orange. I knew from my wedding that peach and aqua look fantastic together. Complementary colours are opposite to each other on the color wheel. When used together these colours stand out and create contrasts. For example orange and blue, yellow and violet, red and green.
I added another of my dahlias into the arrangement. Jescot Julie is a really unusual dahlia. Each ray floret (petal) has a burnt orange upper surface with a contrasting rich plum coloured base, creating a striking bloom. They look sensational when mixed with deep, bold reds and dark golden tones. I bought mine to go with a rich red dahlia called Indian Summer. Unfortunately they haven’t bloomed at the same time so far!
I was really pleased with how the aqua vase lifted the image and gave it a bit of a zing!
Another peachy-apricot single-flowered dahlia in the garden this year is Happy Single First Love. Single flowered dahlias bear a single ring of outer (ray) florets, with the central (disc) florets visible.
Vibrant Pinks and Purples
So far the dahlias I have shown you have been in pretty pastel hues. However most of my dahlias are big, bold and dramatic. Three of my most successful plants were tubers saved from last year, which I am really chuffed about.
Karma Fushiana is a new addition in Sarah Raven’s Hot Dahlia Collection. In Sarah’s words `she is a wonderful bright, coral-pink dahlia ideal for zappy contrast in borders and arrangements.The blooms can be both double or single and have dual classification as small waterlily and small decorative type dahlia. The Karma group have been bred for a much better than usual dahlia vase life, so look out for this group if you like flowers for picking.
Osirium is one of my old favourites with her large deep magenta red decorative style blooms. This dahlia really does make a bold statement!
Eyed Beauty has striking cerise pink flowers. She is classified as a Paeony dahlia. Paeony dahlias have single flowers with two or more rings of largely flat florets surrounding the central disc. With their relatively simple shape and open discs they are attractive to bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.
Boom Boom is a reliable workhorse of a plant! I don’t really like the very deep burgundy hue. However she produces abundant ball type blooms and the deep colour does provide a dramatic backdrop for the other more vibrant blooms which I love. Ball type dahlias have flowers that take on the form of a ball. The flowerheads are double, with a slightly flattened top. Petals are arranged in a spiral pattern and the tips are blunt or rounded.
Rich Autumn Colours
Jescot Julie with her striking red underneath the petals also works well in an Autumnal Colour Scheme. I arranged Jescot Julie with the paeony flowered red Bishop of Llandaff. I chose to place the red bloom in a complementary coloured green stained glass vase. I also used orangey-red Echinacea Joy and the deep red Boom Boom dahlia in my Autumnal themed arrangement. I felt the deep burgundy gave a nice contrast to the yellow petals of Jescot Julie. Purple and yellow are also complementary colours. I find it fascinating that I have included two sets of complementary colours in this image, but it still works! The overall effect is an analogous colour scheme of rich reds, oranges and vibrant yellows. However the green vase and the burgundy flower lift the image and make the colours sing!
Bishop of Llandaff is another paeony flowered dahlia. She is a favourite British cultivar dating back to 1924. Bishop of Llandaff has crimson red flowers and dark bronze foliage.
My Indian Summer dahlia didn’t make an appearance for my photoshoot, but did bloom in July and is ready for action in September! Let’s hope the weather does the same for my Dorset cottage holiday in September. Indian Summer is a fantastic spiky dahlia with brilliant red blooms. I bought her to flower with Jescot Julie, but they don’t seem to want to be together, each blooming at a different time!
I really did have fun arranging my dahlias in different colour schemes this month. Do let me know the names of your favourite dahlias – I may add a few more to my collection if I can find space!
So here we have August’s Mosaic.
I do hope you have enjoyed seeing my ever expanding dahlia collection and have got a few ideas for colour schemes along the way.