I was late getting my dahlias planted this year. I got one row done in decent time, but they were some small tubers that I bought this spring. Small tubers make for small plants, and small plants don't have many flowers. The main crop actually didn't get planted until July :( Much of the main crop is now flowering, just in time for the season to be over, although I have been picking these lovely big pink, red and orange blooms for a number of weeks now. Some of the other plants have just started to bloom in the last week or two. Oh well, at least they were able to grow and the tubers will now survive until next year.
Next year I am going to be much more organized!
Easy to say now, that remains to be seen of course.
There are lots of little self serve roadside stands selling flower bouquets within a few miles of us. About the middle of August I approached the owner of one and asked her if I could buy a few buckets of dahlias from her each week to supplement mine.
It has worked out well. She has earned a bit of extra money from her flowers, and it has given me a bigger selection of dahlias to make into bouquets.
Last Saturday was a particularly vile day. Heavy downpours. Since the forecast wasn't really showing much improvement for the day, I thought I might as well just get the heavy duty rain gear on and start picking the dahlias in the morning, thinking that at least I would get them before they were totally overloaded with water. As it was, some of the pink ones had already got too heavy for their stems and had flopped over. Most of them had bent the stem at a suitable enough spot for them still to be useful for me.
So I cut them and instead of holding them upright like usual until I got a good handful, I held them upside down so some of the water would run out.
Before I put them in buckets in the wagon under the umbrella, I gave them a shake or two to help with more water removal. It was a miserable job and very slow going.
Later in the day I picked stuff for filler. I have been lucky this year. The Feverfew or Matricaria seeded itself in one of the chicken fields. I have been cutting it hard each time, and amazingly it kept sending up enough new branches to keep me well supplied with newly opened flowers each week. Other things I like to use are the curly ends of the new growth from the grapes, as well as teasel, garlic or leek seed heads, ferns, small cedar branches, and anything else I can find to add some variety and texture to the bouquets.
Usually it was after dark that I would drive to pick up the other dahlias, because I had been picking vegetables while there was still daylight. On my way back I would make a slight detour through an industrial area were there were some good patches of Common Tansy. Another plant that I like to use for colour and contrast. It always felt a bit creepy out there in the dark cutting the stems, and I wondered what the truckers thought as they were driving by. At least the area is well lit.
At home I line the buckets up on the front porch where they are undercover. So this my bouquet making station starting at 5am on Sunday morning. Often I haven't got to bed until after 1 am, so you can imagine I am not feeling terribly chipper.
The buckets of filler are on the left.
The first few are done. Some go together well, and some don't. Sometimes I waste too much time trying to make a flower with a weird stem work in a bouquet.
They all look good in the daylight though.
I didn't take any pictures of the pinky/purpley bouquets, but there are some of those too. The Fall coloured ones are the most popular though.
The summer market season is over now, and this next Sunday is the start of 9 markets in a different, smaller location. I'm just going to make some little posies up out of what is left of my dahlias for the next few weeks, and by the end of October, that will be it for dahlias until next year.