Dahlias- beautiful varieties for home and garden

Book Review

Naomi Slade. Photography by Georgianna Lane

http://www.pavilionbooks.com. £25. August 2018.

Leave a comment below if you’d like your name to be put in the hat for a chance to win one free copy of the book. The publishers will draw out a name. Their decision is final. Sorry, it’s open to UK entries only.

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! 🙂

56 thoughts on “Dahlias- beautiful varieties for home and garden

  1. Been enjoying growing dahlias over the last few years on my allotment…Ready to expand my collection so a chance to win the book is very welcome. Love seeing your posts, Karen. Most inspiring!

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  2. Pingback: Dahlias -Overwintering Dilemmas- 19 November 2019 | Bramble Garden

  3. Pingback: Winner of Dahlias book by Naomi Slade | Bramble Garden

  4. The book will no doubt be a treat. I have a copy of the authors’ snowdrop book which was a joy to read. I’ve not heard of the Happy Single varieties so will look out for them. Thanks for your review Karen 🙂

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    • Thanks for reading. I’ve got my name down for a copy of the snowdrop book. I thought the Happy Single series looked lovely. Thanks again for getting in touch.


  5. Happy Single Party is my choice for the patio steps planters this year and I love its cheerful blooms which I can easily see from the kitchen. I’ve grown Karma Choc in previous years – a sumptuous discovery at the Wisley flower show a fews years ago. I must seek it out again.

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    • Hi Michelle, I haven’t seen that one in real life, only in photos. Can’t wait to get started building up some new displays in my garden and my FIL’s plot. Thanks for reading and for getting in touch. Sending you an e mail later. xx


  6. I have both the Dahlias you mention as favourites in my garden – they are lovely. The only problem is narrowing down the choices so you have enough room for them all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ohh, can’t wait to see the photos. Your garden is going to be so colourful right up till November. Thanks for reading, and all the best with your dahlias. Thanks for your kind comments. x


    • I know what you mean. But I don’t plant mine out til mid june when it’s a bit hotter and the foliage has hardened up. Plus I put loads of sheep pellets round them. Seems to work. Thanks for reading. x

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Karma Choc is a beautiful Dahlia, sadly mine did not come through this winter. My grandfather use to show Dahlias therefore they have always featured in our garden, they provide the wow factor from now on. My number one is David Howard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading Brian. Sorry to hear yours didn’t survive the winter. I’ve discovered that ours like the dry conditions of the boiler room over the winter which is frost free but not too warm. I’m going to try that Karma Choc. I’ve got a David Howard to plant out. It’s a very lovely orange isn’t it. Thanks again. All the best. K


  8. What a beautiful book to leaf through. The more I blog, the more I learn. It amazes me how much there is to know about plants and I certainly didn’t know that there are so many different kinds of dahlia. I’ve planted a few in my garden with some success, but they’re quite ordinary types. We don’t get the variety of dahlias in nurseries, and it is necessary to send away for more interesting ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading, Jane. I agree, there’s so much to learn about plants. I learn something new every day. I loved reading about all the latest varieties and how to grow them. And the book contains some old favourites that I recognise too. Thank goodness dahlias have come back into fashion and we can easily buy them from nurseries and on line. All the best. Thanks again. Karen

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It does look lovely, one to pore over. There are so many beautiful varieties – I love the dark ones but also that vase of pale ones. I can recommend Rip City. It has performed beautifully for several years for me. Unfortunately it’s the only one I left in the ground so it is way behind all the rest and battling slug damage (note to self!). Your vase looks wonderful, I’m very impressed with the contents.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Alison. Thanks for the info on Rip City. I too left some in the ground and they got massacred until I covered them in sheeps wool pellets. They have now nearly caught up with the others. Thanks again for reading and getting in touch


  10. Nice post and lovely pictures. I’m generally in two minds about most dahlias apart from ones like like the Happy Singles range. There’s certainly no denying their popular, and wide ranging, appeal and I’m sure that this book will be of interest to everyone who grows and loves them. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Mike. I like those happy single ones too. And they are great for bees. Do hope you’ve got some water where you are. The garden is parched here and it’s very hot. I’ve just refilled the hedgehog water bowls and topped up the mini-ponds. Thought of you as I did it. All the best. Karen xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome. Good for you. They are indeed. Yes thankfully no problem with water. It’s the same here. That’s nice to know, as usual I checked and topped up my ponds this morning. Thanks, and to you too. xx

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Amy. It’s like walking up the garden path, and stepping right back to the 1940s. We seem to spend a lot of time setting the table, sitting at the table, saying grace, eating, clearing the table, setting flowers on the table, washing up….. Thanks again for reading x

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  11. Karen, I’m glad you’re with your mother-in-law while your father-in-law regains health: I hope it’s soon. So your in-laws’ garden has fantastic Dahlias, what a delight, and they even won prizes with them. The most tender thing is now among the whole family you keep keeping them just as beautiful to the Dahlias and their garden. They are weeding and working in your garden, how beautiful, while you take care of her. The book “Dahlias” by Naomi Slade has a lot of useful content and wonderful photos. Speaking of photos, Karen yours are magnificent. Your Dahlia “Nuit d’Ete” is divine. The vase the magnificent with the great red Dahlia a little dark presiding over the bouquet, I love it. I like the photos of the other Dahlias very much: I do not know if they are yours or your in-laws. A good idea is to take cuttings of the varieties of Dahlias that you do not have and if your in-laws have them and take them to your garden and vice versa! How do you think of good !!! Gardening instinct !!!! Karen my Dahlias are not going well. I think it’s the heat: 31º Centigrades and full sun. I’ll wait to see if they react. Memories with love for your Mother. For your In-laws to heal soon. To your whole family, love. Karen love and Take care. Greetings with love from Margarita.

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