Monday, 10 September 2012

Grandfather’s favourite and Me and my Old Dutch

Regular visitors to this blog will know I missed the Dorset County Show this year. I did go last year and while there ordered a dozen gold medal-winning dahlias. They looked so beautiful, and they are easy to grow – right? Wrong!

What with rain, wind, slugs, snails and now ground frost – I must have been stark staring mad! From the moment the plants arrived, I knew I had made a mistake. The show dahlias were at least five feet tall. The ones left on my doorstep one morning in May were two inches tall and housed in three-inch pots! I had no idea I was expected to do the work myself – I naively assumed they would arrive fully grown and ready for planting.

Still nothing ventured; nothing gained. It can’t be that hard! Right? Wrong again. Back in May we were all being told to conserve water; hose pipe bans were all the rage and I though keeping the plants watered would be my biggest problem. Not so, a couple of weeks later the heavens opened and much of Somerset, including our garden was under water. Planting the now six inch tall plants in the ground was out of the question. These particular dahlias were going to have to remain in pots. Have you any idea how much 12 large pots and enough compost to fill them cost? Not to mention the garden twine and strong stakes? Trust me, you don’t want to know!

At this point, I had no idea how big they might grow or even what colour they would be. They all had labels with odd names like Grandfather’s favourite and Me and my Old Dutch – I kid you not! I spent hours online trying to research them, but that, like so much else about dahlias was to remain a mystery. Why do slugs and snails like them so much? I don’t have a problem with any living creature (except spiders), but suddenly I was in a constant battle against these pesky eating machines. I can’t kill them – it’s beyond me, so I started a daily round of carefully removing each one and taking it for a nice walk to the other side of the street only to find it back the next day. Don’t try to tell me they were different slugs and snails because I know darn well they were the same ones.

Fast-forward to the beginning of September, the dahlia’s and I are getting on just fine. They are now healthy, almost slug-free plants with a rainbow of flower heads, so what does the weather man forecast – ground frost. I ask you ground frost on the 5th September. It’s a conspiracy. The whole world is out to get me and my dahlias! So without further ado – dahlia plants cared for by yours truly – not bad huh?







Go on Jack Frost do your worst, I’m ready for you and there is always next year.

What do you do in your spare time? Take a tip from me, don't take up gardening!

34 comments:

  1. Wow, wow, wow. Photos like that make me want to leave the desert. Gorgeous! The bee in the middle of that pale mango colored one is amazing. You are so talented. Our weather here is unbelievably weird right now. It's like a monsoon season pattern of humidity, rain, clouds and high heat. It brings out all the little creatures but I haven't seen any slugs, thank goodness.

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  2. It might have been a frustrating experience, but it made for one very entertaining story! They are just beautiful - the colours are just glorious and go so well with the brickwork behind them. And is that a hydrangea I see as well? - it compliments your dahlias perfectly. Sometimes I think container gardening can be the most rewarding. We also have dreadful problems with snails here and like you I tend to painstakingly pick them all off and put them somewhere else (the husband just puts a ring of salt around something he wants to protect!)

    I can believe the same ones came back. When I was a teenager we had a small ornamental pond in our garden. Frogs drove us mad at night and my step dad would collect them all up and take them (by car) to a pond in a park. The next night they would be back. He was convinced they were the same frogs so one night he painted a red spot on the backs of each of them. Sure enough the red-spotted frogs were back the next night (I kid you not) - so in the end we filled the pond in and made it a flower bed!

    If your blooms survive the frost treat us to some more pics - I can't get enough of something like this.

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  3. Sharon you always make me laugh! I was very tempted to paint red spots on the slugs and snails but our friends already think I’m barking mad. They remember the time we had mice (in a previous house) I spent weeks catching them and returning them to the fields only to have them walk right back in. Usually before I did if Terry is to be believed!
    It is a hydrangea in the background, well spotted. The Dahlias have survived two nights of ground frost, so I will try to get some more pics. It's very wet and windy at the moment so I will have to wait and hope we get some dry days preferable before the next frost!

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  4. I don’t know about talented, but it’s very nice of you to say so! Oh to live where there are no slugs – that would be my idea of heaven! The weather is odd here as well. We had frost and really cold nights now it’s mild, wet and windy.

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  5. Well done Barbara, they are beautiful, and gorgeous photography too. It has been a challenging year with the unsettled weather. Slugs have been everywhere here too.

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  6. They are beautiful Barbara, and well worth the stupendous effort!

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  7. Wow! What bloomers!..........Biggest bloomer? Not watching the neighbours! They do exactly the same with their 'Ickies' so basically your just doing swaps. Any way, good first year result. I see a first prize at the county show soon................

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  8. Not that I know anything about dayliers! I could do you a monthly magazine perhaps....Ho! Hum.............!

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  9. They are beautiful! Definitely seem worth all of the hard work and heartache! Thanks so much for swing by Of Woods and Words. I'm so happy to have found your corner of the blogosphere!

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  10. Thanks Lindsay, I have to admit I'm quite pleased with the flowers. I always end up feeling dissatisfied with my photos the problem is I’m not really interested in learning how to do it properly; I just want to point the camera and press the button. But it’s nice of you to say they are OK.

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  11. Thank you Jane! Thanks also for taking the time to call in and leave a comment, I appreciate it. Barbara.

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  12. Hi Percy, Did you write saucy seaside postcards in a former life? Biggest bloomer indeed! You don’t think the neighbours are really depositing their slugs and snails on my side of the street do you? What a blooming cheek!

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  13. Do you fancy a monthly gardening slot? No seaside humour permitted!

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  14. Hello Ada, thanks so much for your kind comment.

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  15. Wow! A monthly gardening slot? Gosh! Now that is something I could really dig......

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  16. I have stopped by twice, but I wasn't able to comment (not sure why, but it finally let me). I am so glad I read this post. I have a black thumb and these flowers are beautiful. Now I know there is little chance that I will ever grow these beauties- because they sounds more difficult than I can manage. I need plants and flowers with a strong will to survive. I hope the frost did not destroy them! The colors are just out of this world. You did a fabulous job, Barbara. :)

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  17. Just think you could be as famous as the chap in the Rhondda valley (well, maybe not that famous) this is a humble blog after all.

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  18. Hi Stephanie, I’m so sorry you’ve been having problems, thank you for preserving. I don’t know what’s up with Blogger/Disqus at the moment, I’ve checked all the settings, and everything seems to be OK, so I’m hoping it was just a temporary blip.
    Considering the trails and tribulations of looking after these dahlias, I don’t think my fingers are very green! They are still hanging on (the dahlias not my fingers!) but the nights are getting really cold, so I think it can only be a matter of days/weeks. I have to say they are worth all the effort they brighten up the garden no end.

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  19. I am so impressed! I agree with Sharon, they are stunning against the brickwork of your house. I have never even tried to grow them because they will not overwinter here (I am a lazy gardener). What gorgeous photos of these beauties!

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  20. Beautiful! Most of our flowers were killed off with the awful weather we've had this year. However, my white rose is now flowering for a second time this summer, so it's not all bad :)

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  21. Your dahlias are so beautiful, even if nature did not cooperate with you. One of my nieces is planning her wedding, and they are her flower of choice. Luckily they grow well out on the west coast where she lives.

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  22. Thank you Diane, I have to admit to being rather pleased with them! I’ve been reading up on over wintering them, and I think I might just put them in the garage (still in the pots), or I might dig them up and let them dry out and then re-plant next year. Every site I visit gives different advice!

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  23. Hello Nikki-ann, your white rose sounds lovely. We have a few pink ones still flowering. The odd thing is the forget-me-knots and primroses have started to flower again. The garden just doesn't know what time of the year it is!

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  24. They ain't not bad, Barbara, they are wonderfully bloommerfully beautiful. (Just created a new word for your dahlias. :)) My father would be envious of your flowers, he's quite an avid gardener, too. I can't plant anything well. I imagine planting/farming blueberries one day, but I don't know anything about soil conditions and weather. So maybe I shall concentrate on smelling flowers first ...

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  25. Hi Barbara, just in time for 11zizs.
    More about slugs and snails.. Bruv and I used to have Oddiedod (snails) races on the front steps at Pitchcott when us was lads. Now to protect plants in pots I stick copper tape around the each pot or tub. Seems to work as long as the beasties can't reach the folliage from the ground etc. Also, this year, been trying coffee grounds as slug repellent. No proof of success but the Broccolli has done well this time. We have also encouraged Frogs/Toads into the garden and would love to see some Hedgehogs. Having said all that you seem to have done very well anyway. Are your fingers still green? \(*!-)/

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  26. Your dahlias are so beautiful, even if nature did not cooperate with you. One of my nieces is planning her wedding, and they are her flower of choice. Luckily they grow well out on the west coast where she lives.

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  27. It’s very bloomerfully beautiful of you to say so! I wonder if that word will get into the dictionary if we use it often enough?
    I think you should smell the flowers for now and then maybe take up farming blueberries when you retired! I can certainly think of worse things to do.
    Thanks for calling in.

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  28. I missed 11zizs – will 3zizs do?
    Oddiedod races sound wonderful, if you ever take it up again I could send you a few! I’ve not heard the one about copper tape before, but will try that next year, assuming the dahlias survive the winter. We get masses of frogs (the neighbours have a pond), but the slugs and snails still manage to outnumber them.
    More muddy brown than green!

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  29. Evening! Barbara,That time of day = (ironing) well it does! You even out all the creases when your ironing.......Ho Hum! Copper tape should be availiable at your local garden centre. The corms should be stored frost free over winter.....Hey! What am I doing telling you this when you achieved such good results. Bet you knew that already! Granny will be sucking eggs next.........Ho! Ho Hum!.............Muddy brown! WHAT??

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  30. Do you think they would be OK in a garage but still in the pots? Or should I removed them from the pots and dry them? Muddy brown as opposed to green...fingers
    I used to know another Percy, but his surname was Thrower – are you him reincarnated?

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  31. Now I'm no expert but I would think in the garage and dry would be ok but feel perhaps advice from a local garden centre would be a better option. Me reincarnated?? Not sure! I have been called a tos#~r on occasions though. Is that relavent do you think?

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  32. That’s good advice, thank you. The garden centre it shall be!

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  33. omg, they are really something! I love Dahlias, and I have a character named that. but these are gorgeous. Be glad I don't live nearby because I'd be picking them constantly.

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  34. Donna, if you lived nearby I would be picking them for you!

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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