September’s flower had to be the delightful dahlia. Named after the botanist Dr. Anders Dahl, a student of Linnaeus and correctly pronounced dah – lia as opposed to day – lia, as they are commonly known.
Florist Vanessa Birley has continued the tradition well of creating the most beautiful arrangements with dahlias for us. Absolutely gorgeous work.
“I chose the dahlia as the garden I grew up in had a plentiful supply of these gorgeous blooms during summer months. I would watch my dad, an avid gardener, lovingly remove the tubers each year only to replant in the spring. I appreciate the versatility and range of colours and numerous shapes dahlias grow in. I have represented only a minimal selection, and love to be continually surprised with discovering the vast number of varieties.”
The varieties of dahlias used for the designs are: Jowey Linda, Karma Chic, New Baby, Preference, Cafe Au Lait, Evelyn, Orange Fox, New Baby & Sebastian.
The flowers chosen to accompany the dahlia are:
For the large arrangement: a seasonal blend of tuberose, love-lies-bleeding, cosmos, trumpet flower, gooseneck, ice plant, crab apple & fern.
For the wreath: astilbe, cosmos, pittosporum, ivy.
For the vase arrangement: cosmos, astilbe, jasmine, grapes.
Originating in Mexico, the dahlia comes in an amazing variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from the small 2” wide blooms to the vast, dinner plate sized 12” flowers. They are classified into 16 different groups based on their flower shape.
The tubers are edible and were grown as a root crop for food and also because of the antibiotic compounds in the skin of the tuber. The Aztecs used the roots and also the petals to treat skin complaints, such as rashes, grazes, insect bites and stings.
The gorgeous array of colours can also be used to brighten up a salad, as the petals are edible. The petals when used in the bath are said to promote a strong sense of dignity. It is a very dignified flower, the way it holds its blooms upright and stands tall and proud.
You won’t find a blue dahlia in existence. Every shade of purple and lilac but not true blue. The Caledonian Horticultural Society in Edinburgh offered £2,000 in 1846 to the first person to produce a blue variety. Still to this day nobody has managed it. I wonder if they would take the rate of inflation into consideration if somebody managed it today!
As well as being the national flower of Mexico, it is the official flower of San Francisco. Golden Gate Park have a Dahlia Dell especially to celebrate the flower.
(Images : Katie Spicer Photography)