Emily, Tom and Erin all know how smitten I am with dahlias. I mean, how can you not love flowers that are so richly colored and so beautifully formed? They also feature prominently in the bold gardens of Christoper Lloyd, Sarah Raven and others--the gardens I'd love to emulate.
I admired the yard each time Jenny and I walked to the store, but it wasn't until my last day in Corvallis that I stopped by with my camera. Lo and behold, the gardener himself was out in the yard.
I found out that his name is Art Redfern and that he has been growing dahlias for more than 20 years. He got started with dahlias because his wife's father had grown them. Art now grows more than 250 different dahlia varieties. Wow.
I had a feeling he was growing lots of different types since they're all arranged in gridded beds with plant ID tags.
The East Bed
The West Bed
It was quite an impressive operation for someone who does this as a hobby. And of course, the dahlias themselves were equally impressive.
After I'd chatted with Art for awhile and said that I really ought to be getting back, he asked if I'd like a bouquet to take with me. Well yeah... of course! Like I'm going to turn that offer down!
Jenny came around the corner at this time, no doubt wondering where I had disappeared to. By the time Art was done cutting, Jenny and I both had our arms full of dahlias. You can see all of the ones he gave us in this photo. And yes, they really are that big.
In fact, the large pink one in the center was bigger than my head! Art told us that it's called 'Elsie Huston' and that it's a repeat prize winner at dahlia shows. No surprise there.
It would be a lot of work, but I just might have to see if I could grow some dahlias at home. I know they need a good, rich soil and lots of moisture. Our native soil wouldn't work, but maybe I could amend the soil with bags of composted cow manure or try growing the dahlias in containers. Who knows--maybe I could become the dahlia queen of Florida!
If you're interested in learning more about dahlias, Art recommends the Colorado Dahlia Society.