Thursday, March 29, 2012

Are Dahlias Masculine? The Farm Gang Says Yes

Dahlias are a guy's kind of flower, according to the gang at Lynch Creek Farm.

That leads us directly to the first in a set of weekly polls on the Farm's Facebook page, which asks this question: Which dinnerplate dahlia do you think our owner, Andy Hunter, called "the most masculine dahlia of all?"

Editorial comment: of COURSE if we're talking most masculine dahlia, it would HAVE to be a dinnerplate dahlia, wouldn't it?  Seriously, though. Dahlias do have masculine appeal. Think about it: the guru of all dahlia-growers, Bill McClaren, who wrote the Encyclopedia of Dahlias, is a guy. The entire executive board of the American Dahlia Society consists of guys.

Dahlia "Alfred C."
Dahlia "Bodacious"
Dahlia "Spartacus"

Candidates in the current poll are Spartacus, Bodacious and Alfred C. No, we don't know the answer, nor do we know why dahlias with names like Drummer Boy and Wildman didn't make the cut for the masculinity competition. But nobody asked us.

Check out Lynch Creek Dahlias on Facebook for the next poll (someone at the Farm is threatening to post one every Monday) and the results. 

Oh, yeah, and if you "like" the Farm on Facebook, you'll be in line for a drawing for free dahlia tubers!


UPDATE: Andy's "most masculine dahlia you can grow" recommendation was Spartacus. But Facebook fans outvoted him: they chose Bodacious, four-to-one.  Sorry, Andy!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Overstock Sales Starting at Lynch Creek Now

If you garden, you know how unpredictable productivity can be.  Some things flourish more than others. Dig your dahlias, for instance, and you'll find that while some varieties didn't produce an extraordinary number of tubers, others went wild and developed exuberant root clusters with a dozen or more new tubers. Another year, it might be an entirely different variety that excels in productivity.

That's the case at Lynch Creek Farm, too, so the folks at the farm sometimes find themselves with more tubers of some varieties than they anticipated.  That means there's an overabundance of dahlia tubers of beautiful varieties — happy, healthy tubers that need good homes.

Danjo Doc
The good news is that there's savings for you gardeners involved with this whole process. Starting now, the Farm is offering the Deal of the Week: five or six varieties on sale at half price. That's right, 50 percent off on new orders of selected dahlias.  You can check in to the  Web site weekly, or you can get regular notifications if you "like" Lynch Creek Farm on Facebook.

The current offering, for instance, includes six stunning, top-selling dahlias: Danjo Doc and Cornel, two luscious dark red dahlias (Doc's a formal decorative dahlia and Cornel's a ball dahlia, just a little deeper and rounder in form; both have great substance and produce flowers like mad); Amorous, a variegated formal decorative with strong stems and intriguing color variations; brilliant Bodacious, a 10-inch "dinner plate" dahlia in bright red with yellow-orange tips; White Nettie, a miniature ball dahlia with abundant upward-facing blooms; and Ryan C., a burgundy-and-white formal decorative that's a real show-stopper.

Ryan C.
White Nettie
Watch for those weekly offerings as the season progresses, while you're enjoying the seasonal changes and the move toward springtime, longer days, and planting time. Remember that these half-price tubers are premium tubers and great for gardening on a budget. And as the season progresses, stay tuned to this blog for more happenings at Lynch Creek Farm.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Flowers or tubers: Yes, you CAN eat your dahlias!

Dahlias decorate a wedding cake.
Photo by Cooper Studios in Shelton, Washington.
Early botanists who regarded dahlias as vegetables weren't as far off base as it might seem to gardeners today, who value the plants for gorgeous dahlia flowers.

Historians say the ancient Aztecs used dahlia flowers to treat epilepsy, and manuscripts found in Mexico also recorded other medicinal uses for the plant: a preparation of dahlia stems was used to treat urinary-tract disorders, for instance. King Philip of Spain's botanist, Francisco Hernandez, sent to Mexico in the 1570s, recorded medicinal uses for the dahlia as well as its floral properties.

The dahlia tuber was a source
of healing for early Aztecs.
The tuber, he wrote, "alleviates stomach pain, dissipates blowing, draws forth urine, invokes perspiration, drives out coldness, strengthens the stomach weak because of the cold, turns aside cholic, opens what has been blocked, and when moved to the swellings, disperses them."

Observers of medical research report that long before insulin was discovered for treating diabetic patients, a particular type of sugar was processed from dahlia tubers, and used for such treatment. Today, medical research and studies have focused on the use of chemicals present in dahlias for liver and kidney issues.

Petals and a full cactus dahlia blossom top and surround this
elegant wedding cake. Cooper Studios photo.
While the dahlia tuber has fallen from favor as a vegetable, edible dahlia flowers are now finding favor among chefs and caterers, particularly caterers of summer weddings. Dahlia flowers are used to enhance the flavor and visual appeal of foods from salads to desserts, from appetizer trays to wedding cakes and punches.

The sharp, spicy tang of petals punches up the flavor of lettuces in a salad, and the whole flowers, whose substantial texture means they last well and whose wide range of colors lends itself to table decor, are often used to float in beverages and to decorate cakes.