THINKING OUT LOAD
I started most of my tubers about the second week in February, by the first week in April I wish Iíd have started them up after Xmas. For one thing Charlie Dimmock would have been that much earlier throwing the first set of cuttings, and by now Iíd have had had my second lot rooted and another set ready to take. Needless to say it will be a couple of weeks before I can get Wisleyís cuttings over the heating cables. As you know I only had two tubers of Charlie, the reason was in her seedling year she wasnít much to write home about, so all I did was split the tuber in half, but by the second year, she really shone. When I realised she could be a bit special I took a number of pot tubers, so far only one has sprouted, if the eyes are there, something is stopping them from shooting. Of course they could well be blind, in that case theyíll never start, funny thing is, I bought a few pot tubers in, this year, mainly because I liked the look of them, and two of those varieties Primrose Diane and Ruskin Joy have, as yet, not stirred from their winter sleep. I canít blame the grower who produced them, they are perfect little replicas of their bigger brothers but I feel if they were taken on the later side, may be, just may be, they might not have formed eyes. Come on you scientific growers, whatís the answer?
Wouldnít you know it, Stan Hall phoned me a few weeks ago and asked me how my tuber of Charlie was doing, Iíd let him have the other tuber to get a bit of stock going. I told him so far Iíd taken just three cuttings, how many do you think heíd taken? A dozen, and he had the worse tuber, or so I thought, heís a wily old dahlia grower is Stan, but he recons the more cuttings we can root this year, the more money the charity `Break Through Breast Cancerí will earn in itís year of introduction, thatís if Charlie Dimmock makes the grade in Hallís trials. Most of the seedlings have made their first set of true leaves, and have been potted in to a 7cm square pots, the late starters have been pricked out in to a couple of half trays, until they have formed their true leaves. I had a bit of yellowing in some of the first cuttings, so I tried to alleviate this by adding a half a teaspoon of Phosphogen, and a half a teaspoon of Epson salts to a hand sprayer that I mist them with, it seems to be paying off, but then it could be my imagination.
It is the start of the flowering season, and most varieties are performing as anticipated. Charlie D is growing as 2003, thank God, and Iím itching to get a vase to Shepton Mallet in the seedling class. Talking of seedlings, Iíve written a full report of this years hopefuls, under an appropriate heading. The start of summer was exactly the same as last year, but as July finished and this month progressed, so we got locked in misty murky weather, which all flower growers know, is the curse of Mother Nature. Harry Lawson reckoned some or his promising seedlings were beginning to spot, and thereís nothing anyone can do, save pray that more open weather resumes. The worse I experienced was, fully developed blooms of Brianís Dream being dragged earthwards, due to the weight of water in their heads. Whereas blooms of Jomanda stood up to everything, and is probably destined to be dahlia of the year on my plot. This season has made me realise you do need at least six of each variety, to give a fair assessment of what they can do, as I donít show, all I usually grow is four, enough to assess, but not necessary enough to show the cultivar off, or have more plants to choose which are to be carried forward, for next year. Iíve had a bit of spotting on Lismore Canary, on the lower petals, as they mature they seem to loose some resistance to damping, could be feed, but I doubt it, as Iím now on a high, but very weak potash feed. However, as it is the most floriferous dahlia I have this year, it will be in the list for next year, I should imagine if grown for show, with the correct number of stems, it would be unbeatable, regards the correct form for a water lily dahlia. Of course bigger varieties suffer more than most, when raining and misty weather sets in, and the blooms get over loaded with water.
Reginald Keene comes to mind, which incidentally is still insisting to throw up
stems with half yellow flowers? On the other hand, Kenora Sunset, Hamari Accord,
and Grenidor Pastelle take it all in their stride, of course fully develop
blooms eventually succumb to damping, but they give you a marvellous show before
that. All the stock of my large came from Halls of Heddon, one of our leading
dahlia and chrysanthemum specialist, they are so fussy about clean stock,
rouging everything in sight. It is now the 18th of August, and the weather has
taken a turn for the worse, all attempts at crossing out of doors have gone out
of the window. That sentence doesnít sound right, but you know what Iím trying
to say, at the moment it is bucketing down.
The coming weekend is my granddaughterís wedding day, which means I wonít get much done, regards tying in, and cutting spent blooms. I asked my daughter Lorraine, whoís a florist, and is seeing to the flowers, did she want any blooms for the church or hotel, she said sheíd use spray chrysanthemums and roses. I was a bit miffed as I had plenty of Brianís dream, Willowfield Matthew, and Sascha at just the right stage and colour to complement the bridesmaids. I know what the trouble was, the flowers had to last four days with out any attention, and although dahlias are one of the best cut flowers we have, they donít last as long as some, theyíre a bit like sweet peas, the more you pick, the more you get. My other daughter can make them last a week, by changing the water daily. The form on Sam Hopkins is not much, and although I bought it to breed with, as I wanted to get some dark colours in the water lily flowered varieties, I donít think Iíll use it to many times, and if I use it at all, it will be as a pollen provider, on to a well formed mother variety, hoping the offspring will carry the form of the mother.