Sunday, July 30, 2006

Dahlias and Sunflowers

Here are some dahlias and sunflowers. You can find better pictures of dahlias on the web. My wife set out the dahlias, but the sunflowers were volunteers. While we were still doing the market garden thing, we used to grow a lot of ornamental sunflowers, which we sold for $1 US a stem. It was a good seller for us, and the bees loved it. If we had extra, we would let them go to seed and the birds would eat them in the winter.

Seeing the seedling sunflowers in the dahlias, I would have pulled them as weeds, but Vidya wanted to leave them, so they stayed. I thought it made the bed too crowded, which would cause all the plants to suffer, but we had abundant rainfall in the first part of the season, so it worked out okay. As the taller of the dahlias were yellow, the effect in bloom is eye catching, as it seems like the dahlias merge into the sunflowers.

My wife has been pushing the temple for years to grow a lot of dahlias, but the gardener there is vegetable centric and has resisted it. The pluses are that dahlias bloom for a long period of time, are long lasting as cut flowers, come in a wide variety of colors, from reds to purples to yellow to white, and all sizes. They are good for garlands and vase flowers. One negative is that they are tender bulbs, which means in colder climates they have to be lifted in the fall and stored in a root cellar. We have such a cellar, and have offered the temple its use if they get into a larger scale. On the other hand, they don’t need to be started in a greenhouse. Another drawback is initial cost. Some of the varieties can be very expensive. Every year though, they multiply by 3 or more. In a few years populations can build up geometrically and you will be giving them away. Or selling them. They do require some special care. Disbudding is needed if large size is desired, but not necessary, especially if used for garlands.

A mind all logic is like a knife all blade.
It makes the hand bleed that uses it

Rabindranath Tagore


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