Naomi Slade. Photography by Georgianna Lane
http://www.pavilionbooks.com. £25. August 2018.
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Photo : My favourite dahlia Nuit d’Ete in my own cut flower plot in Leicestershire.
I’m away from home for a few days, staying with my mother-in-law Joan. Everything here is at a slower pace. Breakfast takes an hour, and over tea and toast she tells me how her husband Keith once won awards at the local flower show with his dahlias and chrysanthemums. The whole garden from the back lawn, to the greenhouse was set in regimented rows of flowers. I can picture the scene. This garden has been lovingly tended by my in laws for more than 60 years. And now everyone in the family is stepping in to keep it looking perfect. It’s quite a challenge, but one we all enjoy.
Today, between hoeing and weeding and keeping them company, I’ve got time to sit down and catch up with some reading. And top of the pile of new books is Dahlias by Naomi Slade.
photo: Naomi Slade with her latest book. My photo, taken at Chelsea Flower Show.
Over 65 types of dahlias are profiled in the book. There’s 240 pages of mouthwatering photographs and inspiring, easy to read descriptions. There’s an introduction followed by sections on history and botany; and the dahlias are split into themes such as “romantic,” “dramatic and daring,” “fabulous and funky,” “classic and elegant.” A growing and care guide gives cultivation techniques, information on selecting varieties, choosing a suitable site and soil and planting tips.
Photos are sumptuous. I’m particularly drawn to the darker shades; deep red and almost black. Rip City is one I’d love to try.
Karma Choc is another on my wish list. This small waterlily flower is excellent as a cut flower and lasts at least a week in a vase.
I’d never heard of the Happy Single range of dahlias. These are perfect for small spaces and containers, growing to 30-60cm high by 30-40cm wide. Such a wide range of cheerful, rich colours. You couldn’t fail to be happy with them! Varieties include Happy Single Flame, Happy Single Party, Princess and First love. Even the names made me smile.
To calm things down after all that colour, there’s some dazzling and very beautiful white dahlias. I enjoyed learning about all the different kinds of dahlias. I knew about cactus and water lily types, but didn’t know much about collarettes, and anemone- flowered forms. And ones called star, or orchid-flowering sound particularly appealing.
Here’s some photos of dahlias from my own garden. I’ve taken cuttings from mine to grow in my in laws garden. Having read Naomi’s inspiring book, I’ve made a list of new varieties to share between our two plots. And I’m hoping to learn some prize winning tips from my father in law. You never know, I might even enter the local flower show.
Naomi Slade is a writer, broadcaster, consultant, speaker and photographer. A biologist by training, a naturalist by inclination, and with a lifelong love of plants. She writes regularly for national newspapers and magazines. Her books include The Plant Lover’s Guide to Snowdrops and An Orchard Odyssey.
I really enjoyed reading her latest book. It’s brought back some lovely memories for my mother in law and sparked off a new plan in my head to grow more dahlias in their garden.
Right then…. back to the weeding. Must not let my in laws down! 🙂