Monday, January 31, 2011

Dahlia Tubers Fine for Your Valentine

Audrey Grace Dahlia Flowers in the field
Say it, they say, with flowers. If your sweetie’s a gardener, with or without a green thumb, dahlia tubers make a perfect valentine.

The gang at Lynch Creek Farm doesn’t ship tubers until it’s close to planting time, but they can come up with a creative way to let your loved one know you’re thinking of him or her, and looking ahead to spring. Their dahlia collections offer up a lush range of sweet colors and textures perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Or make your own collection. Lynch Creek’s Andy and Nathanael especially like Danjo Doc and Audrey Grace (see photo). These two small dahlias, one dark and one light red, have tight, compact blooms that are great for cutting. Strong stems and crisp substance make them hold up well in bouquets. They’re attractive in the garden as well, perfect for mixed-flower borders.

My personal favorites are the singles, semi-singles and collarettes. They show off beautifully in borders as well as providing abundant blooms for bouquets. Appleblossom, La Bomba and Double Trouble are all great performers in perfect colors for the occasion. Another sweet dahlia in seasonal colors is Colorado Classic, a soft blend of white and pinky-orchid that tips the petals. Colorado Classic is great in the garden or as a cut flower, with blooms up to six inches across, and incredibly strong, long stems.

You can impress your Valentine now and your garden visitors this summer if you go for the showy “dinnerplate” dahlias, those monster flowers that make each blossom a bouquet. Bodacious is a farm favorite, bright red shading to yellow tips. Envy is a deep rosy red with great substance and presence. And despite its name, the burgundy-shaded Grand Finale should bring pleasure without end.

Get creative; you can copy the photos from the Lynch Creek website to make your own card and let your honey see what’s coming. And if you’re unsure, gift certificates are always an option. There’s nothing like flowers to say “romance.” But here’s a bit of gratuitous advice: don’t forget to sweeten the valentine even more with a little bit of chocolate.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lynch Creek Farm Spreads Its Roots

Where do these lovely dahlias come from? We’re often asked where Lynch Creek Farm is located.

Lynch Creek Farm is located in Shelton, Washington
We are located in the Great Northwest!
Shelton is a small town (population about 9,500) located at the elbow of the southwesternmost arm of Puget Sound, that network of waterways that extends south through Western Washington State. We are about 20 miles northwest of Olympia, Washington’s capital city.

Shelton’s early industries included timber harvest and milling, agriculture, and fishing. A mild maritime climate and significant rainfall (the annual average is about 65 inches near Shelton) make it marginal for some crops, but ideal for growing trees and for growing dahlias, whose blooming season coincides with our months of least rainfall.

Our dahlias grow in fields below Andy and Tracy Hunter’s home on a slope above Oyster Bay. The original “farm” in our name refers to the home of Andy’s parents, Len and Colleen Hunter, on nearby Lynch Road above Little Skookum Inlet.

The hub of our processing and mailing operations is at the Port of Shelton’s Sanderson Field Business Park. The local airport dates back to World War II, when a naval air station was located there. The Lynch Creek gang moved into quarters at Sanderson Field just last fall, but we might claim a much longer connection to the airfield. Andy’s grandfather, Colleen’s dad, Jim Shrum, was stationed there during the war, and that’s how he met Andy’s grandma, Jean Charlson.

And the rest, they say, is history. Speaking of history, watch this blog site for the history of Lynch Creek Farm Dahlias and Lynch Creek Farm Wreaths and Evergreens.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dahlia Tubers Offer Promise of Summer

Ryan LeDoux bags dahlia tubers for retail sale
It may be viciously wintry outdoors, but inside the Lynch Creek Farm warehouse, thousands of fat dahlia tubers nestle in beds of shavings, full of the promise of luscious blossoms to come.

This year, the tubers were dug earlier than usual, in October, to avoid loss to damage from the Pacific Northwest’s la Niña winter. Everything that will be available this year is available for order now, according to Lynch Creek’s Andy Hunter and Nathanael Hartman. Shipping will begin March 1 to the warmest states, Hawaii, Florida and California; shipping to the rest of the deep south will begin March 15. “We’ll continue adding regions by temperature zones,” said Hartman, confirming that daily shipping to all areas of the country will be underway by April 15. But dahlia lovers don’t have to wait for their shipping dates to place their orders, and it’s a good idea to order early to make sure your favorite dahlias aren’t sold out.

Lynch Creek Farm’s colorful booth at the Olympia Farmers Market will open with a full complement of packaged tubers at the beginning of April. The dahlia fields above Oyster Bay are resting now, but planting will start when the soil warms. Harvesting tubers is only the beginning for the dahlias that will flourish in growers’ gardens across the country. During the winter, the folks at Lynch Creek sort, catalogue, and grade the tubers for size and quality, then keep them in dry, cool storage. Right now the warehouse is bustling with activity as the tubers are packaged for retail.

When we’re shivering in the cold or slogging our way through the rain, the prospect of summer’s glowing dahlia blossoms is a hopeful, joyful thought.