AN AUTUMN LULLABY
As I waited for the light to change on the corner of 19th and Sunset Highway, I couldn’t help but be reminded that harvest is upon us. Tractor-trailer rigs laden with square boxes filled with Honeycrisp, Gala, Grannies, Jonagold, Ambrosias, Auroras, Goldens and Reds lumber past, destined for packing sheds and ultimately, markets throughout Washington, the US, and other parts of the world. This is the time of year that so many of us spend the rest of the year preparing for – we are now rewarded for our careful and precise husbandry that we’ve applied in each of our growing venues.
As a dahlia grower, this is my favorite time for a number of reasons. First of all, it marks our annual dahlia show, which this year was filled with over 1000 blooms of every size, color and description. The sheer brilliance and grace of this gathering of horticultural angels served to inspire and touch the hearts of people as only miracles can - you could almost cut the endorphins with a knife. Secondly, it is during late September and early October that many of us can afford to be generous with our cut flowers. There is no longer a need to save the best for the fairs or dahlia shows across the state. The crisp mornings, warm afternoons and cool evenings and overnights produce some of the best blooms of the season. You might just see dahlia growers walking around with arms full of bouquets, gifting family, friends and neighbors. Or maybe you’ve seen the vases full of dahlias on front counters at offices, shops and other public places around town. As so many of you have discovered, giving dahlias away is just plain fun – I can highly recommend it!
There is an irony for dahlia growers, in that autumn represents both an ending and a beginning. With or without the killing frost, you will find us cutting down our plants as we say “goodbye” to the gardens and yards filled with the luscious nobility represented in our dahlias. However, with the digging of the tubers clumps and the collecting of seed pods, we officially say “hello” to the future that resides in the possibilities of next year’s crop. What was planted as a single tuber in the spring is now a clump of 4-12 or more. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – it is really like Christmas for us, and the bountiful yield is one of the things that we look forward to. Rather than dreading the digging, lifting, cleaning, cutting and dividing, we welcome the process that allows us to tuck these babies into their winter beds of pine-shavings and crawlspaces.
A huge “thank you” goes out to our NCW community for all the support, gratitude and encouragement that we receive so frequently – whether in our demonstration garden on
the dahlia forms garden at Pybus, the teaching garden at 5th and
Western, or in our home gardens. The interest in dahlias has grown tremendously
in the past few years, as evidenced by the presence of dahlias in so many yards
across the valley, and because of that, NCW Dahlia Society will be hosting a
Pybus University session called “Putting Your Dahlias to Bed.” Scheduled for November 4, at at Pybus Public Market, this class will
provide hands-on experience with dividing and storing dahlia tubers. You can pre-register