Wednesday, September 3, 2014

National Dahlia Day

National Dahlia Day

Today we celebrate the Dahlia, one of the most beautiful and diverse flowers on earth.
The Dahlia is not native to North America or Europe, but is one of the wonderful gifts of
Colombia and Mexico to the world.  They were brought by the Spanish to Europe and
then back to North America.  They are one of the most popular garden flowers in the USA.
These are some pictures of Dahlias which I have taken in San Francisco, Chicago, and

Dahlia petals spring forth with light
To guide us through the darkest night.
A proof of God inside us all,
They stand, so perfect, true and tall.

My head I bow in thanks devout
How could I ever've raised a doubt,
When sun and rain are all they need,
If love is shared, they will succeed.

Dahlias are easy to grow and hardy.  By mid August they are five feet high and covered
with flowers.  They continue blooming until the first real frost.  In the north, 
you must take their tuber roots out of the ground and store them in a cool, 
dry place until next spring.  Dahlias range in size from an inch across to the giant 
dinner plate dahlias, which are more than 12 inches in diameter.

The white dahlia above is the simple traditional flower with eight petals.  It has been
hybridized into all sorts of colors and forms and sizes.

 Dahlias are special in many ways.  They are divine delights.  They send out light,
     like life, in a million different hues.  Symmetrical, they are big, brazen and brilliant.   
     They dazzle you with colors likely never seen.  They are late-Summer bloomers, a hopeful 
       metaphor - that.  They grow easily if given sunlight and lots of water.  But it may take 
         a season.  They need support to climb to their peak.  And they are widely used as 
          herbal medicines. Mexico and San Francisco have made Dahlias their official flowers.
         True, they lack the fragrance of roses, but unlike roses, they do not prickle.

This is a Dinner Plate Dahlia,which is more than 12 inches in diameter.  In Golden Gate Park
in San Francisco, the city honors its official flower with its own special garden with 
hundreds of varieties and colors of dahlias.  Be sure and visit.  It is only a few minutes walk
south of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Science Museum

Dahlia flowers look beautiful when cut and floating in a bowl of water.

"Coral Spiders" is the name of this variety.

A pure white double dahlia - "Iceberg."

"Peach Pomade."  The peach and orange colors are particularly subtle.

Traditional lavender dahlias with a few frills.

"Morning Sunrise" shows some of the multi-colored petals.

"Alice Reilly" is supposed to be in honor the color of the lingerie favored by one of
King Edward VII's mistresses.

Pink and magenta make a wonderful combination.

"Double Peach Pompoms."

This was a featured flower at the Chicago Botanic Gardens - "Brittany Rey."

"Raspberry Ripple" is the name of this delicious two-toned blossom.

Joseph Haydn's "The Dahlia Sonata," composed, it is said,
shortly after he saw his first dahlias from South America.

"Yellow Dinner Plate Dahlia"

Hot Orange Dahlia

"Brittany Rey" variant

"Bahama Mama" - Let's dance!

Traditional Pink 8 Petaled Dahlias

Pale and translucent as pink lemonade, 
the morning sun filtered its petals
to pure lightness; 

a saffron haze
near the stem, pallid fuchsia at its tips, 
it yawns, unfurling its petals into
the summer air laden with mist 
and amber seed.

The leaves cluster around its stem, 
as though protecting its emerald heart
from the gardener’s shears; 
every day an excruciating uncertainty; 

the bees burrow deep
into its fuzzy heart
the way the pestle enters
the mortar; their famished
mouths can decimate
the life from this fragile bloom.

Every day the gardener
parks his rusty wheelbarrow
by the garden gate, 
green with leaves and ivy, 
and considers
plucking the precious blossom
from the sill; 

an executioner of the garden, 
the dahlia’s life dependant
upon his will. 

"Brittany Rey" Variant

Dahlias traditionally signify elegance and dignity.

Dinner Plate Fringed Yellow Dahlia - 14 in. in diameter

Pink Dinner Plate Dahlia near my sister's house - 14 in. across.

"Purple Punctuation"

"Peppermint Patty"

"Snow Princess" frilled white dahlia

"My Lady's Powder Puff" pink and white dahlia

"The Bishop of York Dahlia"

"Lemon Chiffon Dinner Plate Dahlia" more than a foot across.

Franz Schubert's "Upon Seeing a Yellow Dahlia."

"Pink Fluff"

Pink and Yellow Spider Dahlia

Burst of Sunlight

Dahlia, dear dahlia, with colors so bright,
You brighten my garden with all your delight.

There you are strong standing tall on your stem,
Among the other flowers, you are the gem.

Yellow, peach, white, pink and red,
Your colors enrich the garden bed.

As your flowers fade and petals scatter on the ground,
I lock your memory away in my heart to be found.

Traditional 8 petaled pink and purple dahlia

"Bird of Paradise" Dahlia

"Victorian Treasure"


I hope you have enjoyed these dahlias, and maybe you will plant a few
in your garden next year.  : - )


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Chicago Botanic Gardens Sp 2014

Chicago  Botanic  Gardens

Spring was late in Chicago this year, but last Sunday was the perfect spring day, 70 degrees
and sunny, so we went out to the Chicago Botanic Gardens, where the flowers were at
their absolute peak of perfection.  Cool, rainy weather allowed them to develop fully before
 opening and then kept the flowers full and intact.

There were hundreds of thousands of tulips and daffodils and hyacinths and ranunculus, etc.
all over the hundreds of acres of gardens.  These were along the Woodland Trail.

  There were 300 flowering crabapple trees in white and pink all around the lake. 
 It was breathtaking and as beautiful as the flowering cherry trees in Washington.
A model along the Flowering Crabapple Allee.

Close-up of the white blossoms; not a single petal had fallen, but all were in full bloom.

White Glory-of-the-Snows / Chionodoxa  bloomed beneath them.

There was also Blue Chionodoxa.

Double Cream Daffodils and Purple Violas were all over.

A pot of brilliantly colored ranunculus.  These marvelous Persian Buttercups were  found
all over the gardens this year.  They look like a combination of rose and peony.

Single Red and Double White Tulips made a beautiful bed along the Woodland Trail.

Allium formed a backdrop for many of the beds.  These large colorful balls are part of
the onion family.

A large Allium ball flower; these are about 10" in width.

Towers of Jewels  /  Echium  were at the entrance.

But the tulips were the jewels of the displays.  The Gardens did not mass large numbers
of a single color, but created marvelous variations with three or four colors in many parts
of the garden.  These were at the entrance to the Dwarf Conifer Garden.

Bright yellow Scottish Broom was planted in many areas.

Stock Flowers and Primrose of various colors were in the Heritage Garden.

Harlequin Snapdragons and Yellow Toadflax were in the Enabling Garden.

Orange Tulips, Texas Bluebonnets, Yellow Pansies, and Daffodils were also in the
Enabling Garden, which shows how to grow flowers even if you are handicapped and
cannot bend over or lift.

But the piece de resistance for tulips had to have been the Crescent Garden with its fountains
and dozens of beds of tulips of various colors.  These white, pink, and purple tulips were
immediately around the fountain.

But then, on the other side of the path, were huge beds of Easter Egg Tulips.  As you can see,
they were all in perfect condition and just opening fully for us.  The visual sensation was almost

Beautiful Rhododendron bushes were found around the Regenstein Building and
in the Azalea Garden.

Rhododendron Bush along the Esplanade by the Farmers' Market.

Daffodil bed on the Woodland Trail.

A clump of daffodils.  These days they have hybridized daffodils/narcissus in many varieties of
white, yellow, and orange petals and contrasting throats / trumpets.  This is a beautiful variety/

Fothergilla was new to me, but there were several varieties growing.

Close-up of Fothergilla blossoms.

Lupine is a hardy and colorful flower and was used in a number of gardens.  These pink
lupine were in the Heritage Garden.

Beautiful little Grape Hyacinths were used in many beds below taller flowers and for contrast.

This is a Weeping White Crabapple Tree, which I had never seen in bloom before.
It is right across from the Rose Gardens.

Iceland Poppies are now one of my favorites.  They were planted individually in many beds
as well as in mass plantings all over a hillside.

Beautiful Multicolored Spurge appeared frequently.  Each week the Gardens publish a
"What's in Bloom?" list on the web, so you can get an idea of what you can see and
then print it out and use it as a check list as you walk through the gardens.

Tulips beds at the beginning of the Woodland Trail.  We noticed that tulip beds will look
completely different when seen from different locations.  The sun shining ON these tulips
made them look flat, but the sun shining THROUGH them in this photo is a
totally different experience.

Tulip bed on the Woodland Trail, with sun shining THROUGH the flowers and
blue violas below.

Pale Yellow Lupine, Iceland Poppies, Sorbet Violas, and Calendula (Pot Marigolds).

There were also pink Flowering Crabapple Trees all over the Gardens.

Close-up of Pink Flowering Crabapple Tree.

Orange Fritillaria / Crown Imperial with their flowering hanging down were an
interesting contrast to the upright tulips.

Queen of the Night Tulips and Pretty Princess Tulips made a beautiful bed.

Sorbet Violas in lavenders, blues, and purples could be found everywhere.

Two toned tulips filled a large bed near the fountain in the Crescent Garden.

A pot of orange and pink ranunculus / Persian Buttercups.

Peach and red ranunculus / Persian Buttercup.

I hope you have enjoyed this spring virtual walk through the Chicago Botanic Gardens.