The National Dahlia Society Trials at Golden Acre Park 2003
At the time of writing, I, like every other dahlia enthusiast, am eagerly waiting for the National Dahlia Societyís Winter Bulletin to drop on my doormat. To produce such a bulletin is a huge task for those involved, it provides us, their members, with a full report of last seasonís dahlia news. The articles alone are worthy of the membership fee. We are lucky in this country, the fact that we are a compact nation has its advantages, for when it comes to growing, showing and breeding dahlias we havenít so far to travel to shows and trial grounds. Although I wish I had more confidence on the motorways of Great Britain. My regular trips to Wisley takes a bit of doing, by the time I get there, stage a seedling or two, look over the dahlia trials on Portsmouth Field, have dinner in the restaurant and get back, although elated with the experience, Iím exhausted. How those blokes from up North and Scotland get to Shepton Mallet is a mystery, but get there they do and on many an occasion, when they go back, they take half the silverware with them. As a Southerner I know this report will be scrutinized by some of Britainís finest dahlia growers, and quite a few of them come from the North and Scotland. You only have to surf the Internet to realise were the bulk of enthusiastic growers come from, Godís thereís hundreds of them, the North West area alone is buzzing with them. Sure we have some fantastic growers down South who are world-beaters on their day, but up there they eat, sleep and breathe dahlias. Everyone Iíve pestered for information from the North has been more than co-operative especially Don Sutcliffe who is going to supply me with photographs which he took from the Golden Acre Park dahlia trials. If it were possible I should love to give them a visit, and every other trial ground in Britain as well, and to get to Halls nursery at flowering time would be fantastic. However for now I have to rely on various dahlia growers on the Internet, the ďGarden NewsĒ email friends throughout the world and of course my dahlia patch. So here goes, this is only an opinion I have formed with the limited research I have at my disposal.
Hang on the post has just arrived, and Don Sutcliffe has sent the Golden Acre Park trial photoís - time to get cracking, and can since up dating this article after a computer failure tell you - the photo's were magnificent, and it was only my ignorance at the time that spoilt their appearance on these pages.
Sascha: Small Water Lily raised by Cor Geerling of Holland and sent by Dave Reid.
This was the best variety at the trials this year, and therefore the winner of the Harry Howarth Memorial Medal, and a Gold Certificate of Exhibition Merit. What can you say; heís done it again. The photoís Iíve seen of this one are wonderful, it reminds me of the great shots of Glorie Van Heemstede when it first came out, only in lavender pink. That variety was raised by a firm called Bakker in 1947 also from Holland. I wonder if Corís still using his same breeding lines as all those years ago. Thatís another place Iíd love to go, Geerlings Nursery. Thereís a smashing shot of one of his dahlia fields on their web site, depicting a vast array of dahlias, under a heavy sky, talk about a Dutch master. I used it on my computer desk top for ages, until I got one of my own. The five blooms of Sascha are courtesy of Dave Reid from the back of the 2003 Winter Bulletin, the single bloom, face on, is one of Donís photographs from the trial ground, you can see from this close up what a wonderful variety Sascha is, last but not least is the photograph from Halls of Heddon web site. Anyone who hasnít visited this site yet, is in for a treat. They are, I think, one of our leading nurseries and a very professional set up.
Barbarry Clipper: Small Decorative raised by Barry Davies sent by Frank Taylor.
This was also awarded a Gold Certificate of Exhibition Merit and rightly so, it was the best of the trio, I think, Iím already saying `I thinkí and Iíve only just started. Put it down to nerves, brought about by worrying what those Northerners will be making of my assessments, but you can only give your own opinion at the time, but I suppose if your willing to stick your head above the parapet, you canít grumble if you get shot at. Back to the variety in question, beautiful colour and I hope it stays around for a long time, good reds are worth their weight in gold. I must get a better picture of this one, the trouble was it was before I had Jack Gott's assistance on how to make a photograph suitable for the Internet.
Robís Symbol: Medium Semi-Cactus raised and sent by Robert Foster of Kesgrave Ipswich Suffolk.
Awarded a Silver Certificate of Exhibition Merit so itís got to be good. When you consider Symbol is forty six years old, and the family are still throwing sports, it was a phenomenal introduction. The photographs that arrived today, confirm that this new Symbol sport, is as good, if not better than those we already have. From the photo it looks to be maize yellow with a pinkish flush to the tips of the petals. Sort of colour we got when we were kids, when we mixed the rhubarb with the custard, I wonder if they still do that? It came from Salmon Symbol which of course, was a sport. Very attractive, and will be an asset, I suppose we can call it a new bi-colour, any way it wonít let the family down.
Grace Kendall: Large Semi-Cactus raised and sent by Alf Rodgers of Keighley West Yorkshire.
Awarded a Silver Certificate of Exhibition Merit. Before I start waffling on, this is a belting bloom, comparable, I think, to Hamari Sunshine. Now Iíve got it down, on a report that I received from the Trials Recorder, as a Large Semi-Cactus, surely a typing error. Iíve just looked up photographs of Sir Alf Ramsey and Wandaís Capella on the monitor and this ones form is comparable, although, dare I say, rather better. Let me hasten to add we are talking about photographs and of course you canít see the size from a photograph. Don has it listed in his notes, Large or Giant Decorative, Iíll go along with Don. Incidentally he informs me, any money this cultivar makes will go towards fighting Leukaemia. Good on you Alf.
Barbarry Centrepoint: Small Decorative raised by Barry Davies and sent by Frank Taylor.
Awarded a Silver Certificate of Exhibition Merit. Very neat indeed and pulls right back to the stem. Of the three submitted, of course the judges have it right with their first choice. But this one is a little corker. These Barbarry varieties do have terrific centres, bound to be seen in winning exhibits, the photo shows it to be a deep red but in fact itís cerise.
Andrea Clarkson: Small Semi-Cactus Raised and sent by W Marsden of Huddersfield.
Awarded a Bronze Certificate of Exhibition Merit. I really liked this one, again brilliant form, perhaps an odd petal not quite lining up, but completely round, will look out for it next year.
Barbarry Pointer: Small Decorative raised by Barry Davies and sent by Frank Taylor.
Awarded a Bronze Certificate of Exhibition Merit. Inspiring name for this one, suits it down to the ground, just about the neatest small decorative Iíve seen, and like all the Barbarry varieties, weíre bound to see it on the exhibition bench.
Lakeland Autumn: Medium Decorative raised and sent by Brian Warriner of Barrow-in-Furness.
Awarded a Bronze Certificate of Exhibition Merit. I must confess I donít grow medium decoratives so I shouldnít really comment. But on photo evidence alone, this is a perfect example of a medium decorative. The colours wonderful, although a little faded on the single bloom, and itís not lacking in form. From the photograph on the left I would say this was one of the last Don Sutcliffe took on that day, and he was facing North East when he took it. Three good `uns in a vase such as the ones I copied from the NDS 2003 publication, would beat anything in this class.
Ryecroft Jan: Miniature Decorative raised by P Godsmark and sent by Dave Spencer.
Iím confident weíll see a lot of this one, I managed to get a nice close up from the Wisley trials, and one from Ivor Maceís site were the Welsh dahlia trial photoís are displayed. I wish theyíd take spent blooms of from behind the flower before they take a picture, but then Iím fussy. Did the Welsh trials suit it better; was it situated on a draughty corner at Golden Acre Park? Does it grow better in the South? Who knows, but thatís the way it goes, letís wait till the big guns grow this one, and next years shows, prove itís a cracker. Donís photograph of five blooms below, show it a little creamier than it really is, due to the lights in the hall, I think. Iíve tried my best to reduce the yellow factor with the computer, it isnít easy. But what else do we see in this picture?
When youíre setting up a vase of five, what ever you use, Oasis, moss or newspaper, it isnít easy to get a symmetrical grouping, or placement within the vase. As this exhibit shows, they are wonderful blooms, and Iím not criticising them or the staging of them, but thereís nothing like a photograph to show up little faults. It is obvious also that this photograph was taken after judging, and you know what judges are like, only kidding. When the Polaroid camera hit the scene, the New Forest Exhibitors used them, to make sure that all vases looked the same, regards height weight and grouping. A point lost here and there could loose you a vital place, in stiff competition. I am using this photograph to illustrate that point. Any way, you have to admit, this variety has form in abundance, and whether itís a miniature or a small, does it matter, as long as theyíre matching, itís a beautiful variety, and the photo depicts a wonderful vase of flowers.
That concludes my report on the National Dahlia Society Exhibition Trials 2003 at Golden Acre Park Leeds. As a bonus however Don Sutcliffe has sent an extra five for you to browse over. Iíll start with the biggest and work my way down. Oh by the way, Iíve also added a miniature decorative that I heard about through the grape vine, I was told it had fantastic form, canít wait can you?
Candle Light: Giant Decorative. raised by Ian Hill of Cradock Row Sandhutton Thirsk North Yorkshire. This is a well grown bloom, wonderful form for a big flower. Dare I say the petal shape is reminiscent of Hamari Gold, with a similar point to the end of each petal. A giant to watch, in canary yellow and one I wished I raised.
Sorbet: Medium Semi-Cactus raised by the master Cor Geerling of Holland. Superb bi-colour in pink and white. It will have Staleen Condesa to battle with in a single vase class, but in a multi vase, it would be an added attraction, and help to pile on the points.
Marissa: Water Lily Flowered raised by Cor Geerling. Iím not sure if itís small or medium, Don didnít say, but if itís small itís in the same Group as Charlie Dimmock. Itís funny, but the last couple of years have brought about a spate of bronze coloured beauties, all water lily flowered dahlias. Thereís Taratahi Sunrise, Lismore Willie, Charlie Dimmock and this one. To top it all when I emailed Sion of Euro Dahlias to place an order, sorry thatís his Internet handle. When I emailed Station House Nurseries, he told me he had another, in bronze, that would be released in 2005, called Gwyneth, thought Iíd share that with you. Any way Marissa is a beautiful flower with that classic immaculate shape. But I think Charlie will see them all off, God what am I saying, Iíll be known as that cocky cockney from Essex.
Rossendale Joshua: Miniature Decorative. This is my dark horse, Iíd read about it in the 2003 winter bulletin and wondered what all the fuss was about, now I know. Fantastic form and brilliant deep pink colour. Can be purchased via Jack Gottís site where I lifted the photograph.
Now two very posh small semi-cactus in alphabetical order, and then weíre done.
Lakeland Sunset: Small Semi-Cactus raised by Brian Warriner 37 Beckermet Gardens Barrow-in-Furness Cumbria. This almost made small cactus didnít it. Sort of colour I like, warm and cheerful. The front two blooms in particular are perfection.
Ruskin Andrea: Small Semi-cactus. Raised by Stan Pennington. Very like Avoca Comanche, but now I think about it, that variety is a small cactus. This will not disgrace any exhibit, it looks to be of perfect form, but then most of Stanís Penningtonís are. Itís strange, but whether itís five blooms in a vase or three, the middle bloom always appears smaller, as both these vases show. A way to correct it is by placing your largest bloom, centre back, if you havenít got a matching set.
Thatís it, time to shut shop, Iíve enjoyed logging all this down, please contact me if there is anything that offends or anything that you think is incorrect and Iíll remove it, that is if Iím at fault, Iím only an email away. Grow `em as you always do up there, with passion and commitment.
Ken Stock from way down South