Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Brilliant Dahlia Bouquets Brighten Farmers Market

Nathanael marketHead down the south row at the Olympia Farmers Market and Lynch Creek Farm's display of dahlia bouquets will catch your eye with brilliant color and texture.

Dahlias have a cell structure more like spring flowers and lilies than most late-summer flowers. The high water content in the florets that make up dahlia blossoms catches and refracts light, and the intense color of many of the dahlia varieties is eye-popping. Look carefully at most dahlias and you'll see that some of this intensity comes from shading and sometimes streaking of analogous colors.

The Lynch Creek Farm crew picks and conditions dahlias at their best and brings them to market Thursday through Sunday each week from the beginning of August to first frost.

Kate selling
In the fields at the Farm, the Lynch Creek gang also raises statice, zinnias and sunflowers, so the market bouquets may include these bright blooms as well.

Customers can choose from among a rackful of pre-made bouquets or, on the other side of the booth, pick out stems of their favorite varieties and invent their own combinations. It's the kind of activity that draws onlookers into the action.

While the market is a major outlet for the dahlia flowers this time of year, weddings and other events claim their share of the blossoms from the Farm's fields.

Kate and bouquet
On a recent weekend, the coolers at Lynch Creek Floral, Andy Hunter's mother's business in downtown Shelton, were packed to the brim with centerpiece bouquets of dahlias for a major banquet at Saint Martin's University in Olympia, as well as dahlia bouquets for weddings and a funeral. Once regarded as only a garden flowers, dahlias are now a florist's standby.

Meanwhile, at the market, it looked like every second shopper had corralled a bouquet of Lynch Creek dahlias. They were flying out of the market in a glorious profusion of color.

And all the while, back in the fields, the leaves of the thriving dahlia plants were transforming sunlight and water and nutrients into fat dahlia tubers, ready for harvest this fall and planting in dahlia lovers' gardens next spring.

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