Sunday, March 31, 2013

So Many Varieties: How Do You Choose a Dahlia?

Dahlias: many sizes, shapes and colors
When it comes to choosing dahlias to plant, there's an embarrassment of riches.

At Lynch Creek Farm, where you can buy dahlia tubers at reasonable prices (and a host of incredible dahlia bargains if you shop overstock dahlias and dahlia collections), there are literally hundreds of varieties to choose from.

Yellow Bird is typical of collarette dahlias.
How do you choose when dahlias range through so many sizes, shapes, forms and colors? There are a number of factors to include when you're doing your decision-making, and they may help narrow the field.

Consider your location. If your area is windy or you get heavy summer rains, you'll do better with small-flowered and low-growing varieties. Look at miniature dahlias, whose blooms are up to four inches across. It's best to avoid the ball dahlias for windy and rainy areas, and focus on dahlias with a flatter bloom. The waterlily dahlias are a good choice of dahlias for windy areas, as are cactus dahlias and the Mad Blogger's favorites, the sturdy collarette dahlias.

The Premier Cut Flower collection
is a bargain for growers.
Garden flowers or cut flowers? If you grow dahlias primarily for their appearance in the garden, your choices are pretty much unlimited. If you search the Lynch Creek Farm site for prolific bloomers, you'll find some listed as excellent for cut flowers and some, shorter stemmed or with less sturdy stem structure, that are stunning in the garden but less useful for cutting. If you want to grow dahlias for arranging or for the fresh-flower market, look for those rated as best for cutting. There's even a premier cut flower collection specially selected for cutting and arranging.

Just Married has amazing form and color.
Standout or standby?  Some dahlias are show-stoppers, including the dinner-plate dahlias like Bodacious that astonish everyone by their sheer size and personality or the fimbriated dahlias like Just Married. The Lynch Creek Farm dahlia listings include notations on those dahlias that are especially successful in shows, like Ken's Choice and Marlene Joy. Others are old favorites that simply go on year after year pleasing growers with their consistent quality, and these may be the most satisfying of all in the dahlia garden.

Love purple? Worton Blue Streak
is the dahlia for you.
Favorite Colors and Forms. Everyone has a favorite color, and most gardens reflect those preferences. Type in your color choice on the home page at the Lynch Creek Farm Web site and you'll find all the dahlias in your chosen color range. Once you've been looking at dahlias for a while, you'll likely have a favorite form, too: dinner-plate or formal decorative, buttony pom pon dahlias or big ball dahlias, starburstish cactus dahlias or flat collarettes—all this goes into your selection of those beautiful dahlias you want to add to your garden.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Dahlias Are Ideal for First-Season Gardeners

Stunning first-season flowers attract butterflies, too.
Are you starting a garden? You may not know yet whether your thumbs are green or brown, but few easy garden plants can be more satisfying than dahlias for beginning gardeners.

Start out with a look at some of the beautiful dahlias at Lynch Creek Farm, a major grower of dahlia bulbs or, more correctly speaking, dahlia tubers, for sale online. You'll find not only more than 200 stunning dahlia varieties to choose from, but a wealth of advice on growing dahlias.

Dahlias are inexpensive.

Your average perennial in a gallon pot costs $10 or more. A dahlia tuber costs between $4 and $8 and will produce a three- to five-foot plant with flowers to enjoy or cut within a few months. At Lynch Creek Farm, you'll find amazing bargain dahlias that lower the cost even more: overstock dahlia tubers sell for as little as $2.75. And dahlia collections—a great way for beginners to develop a dahlia patch—offer substantial savings and you reap the benefit of choices put together by the pros at the farm. You can plant lots of varieties without breaking the bank.

And consider this: at the end of your first growing season, when you dig your dahlias for storage, you will find not one tuber but from four to a dozen tubers, each with an "eye" where it will sprout next year. Dividing dahlia tubers is easy, so you'll have more dahlias to plant, or to share or trade with other gardeners.
Your dahlias will multiply so you can grow lots!

Dahlias create a stunning garden—fast.

Your dahlias will be full-sized and beautiful their very first season. Unless you pay a fortune for big, well established perennials, you'll have to wait for a year or more for flowers when you start your garden. Dahlia tubers provide almost instant gratification: plant them this spring and you'll have an abundance of beautiful flowers in high summer. When you harvest the new tubers you'll have an abundance to plant or share in your second year. 

And because you plant dahlias later in the spring, you can double up with early bulbs like crocus, which won't mind if you dig close to them, or daffodils, which will have begun to dry and be ready to dig and store when it's time to plant your dahlias.

Deer aren't fond of dahlias. They love roses and other garden flowers, but they'll probably leave your dahlias alone. That's an extra advantage.

Growing dahlias is easy!

Dahlias are easy to grow in almost any climate and are tolerant of most types of soil. If you're just starting out as a gardener, soil testing and soil amendment are probably new to you. If you're so inclined, you can get involved with testing; if that's a bit much for you, just make sure that your soil is fertile and well drained. Dahlias do best if there is shelter from wind.

Dahlias are great first-garden plants for kids.
Good drainage is important because dahlias grow from tubers, enlarged potato-like structures that store nutrients and sprout into flower-bearing plants, you don't want standing water that can encourage rot or disease. If your soil is heavy and clay-ish, dig sand and peat moss, inexpensive soil amendments, into it before you plant. In any soil, mixing in composted steer manure, compost from your compost pile if you have one, or mushroom compost will help your dahlias thrive.

Plant your dahlia tubers after all danger of frost is past. Dig a hole about six inches deep in your prepared soil, lay the tuber in place horizontally with the eye up, and drive a stake in close to the tuber before you cover it. Keep the area weed-free; once your dahlias are up and thriving, they'll shade out the competition. If they appear to need support, tie them to the stake with a one-inch strip of cloth. Water sparingly.

If you suspect the presence of slugs, use an organic slug bait or protect your dahlias with copper barriers. Slugs are probably the number-one dahlia pest, since they're voracious feeders and love those tender dahlia shoots emerging at ground level. Snails are a similar menace.

That's it. So check out all the dahlia tubers for sale at Lynch Creek Farm today, and get growing!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fill Your Easter Basket with Dahlia Tubers

Dahlia Pat Fearey is a sweet pastel.
The tradition of Easter eggs has a lot in common with planting dahlia tubers.

Far-fetched? Not really. The symbolism of Easter eggs, whether the colored and decal-decorated eggs of childhood, the vinegar-and-vegetable-dye eggs of the more distant past, or the exquisite wax-relief painted eggs of the Ukrainian tradition, is all about renewal and rebirth. (Okay, we don't know where today's plastic eggs fit into this picture, except that they usually contain something edible...) Easter eggs remind us that new life emerges from something as superficially hard and lifeless as an egg.

Who needs Easter lilies when
you can grow White Waterlily?
The same is true with dahlia bulbs or tubers—or any of the spring bulbs. Dry and lifeless-looking at first glance, they have within them the stored energy of the previous season. And when the lifeless is planted within the earth, there's resurrection of sorts: green shoots emerge and grow, and beautiful blooming follows.

Sakwa has luscious color and form.
Last autumn's frosts put an end to dahlias' growth and bloom, but only for the winter. The downtime of trimming and storage of dahlia tubers started the annual cycle of death and renewal again.

So here's a great idea for an Easter gift for someone you love: go to the Lynch Creek Farm website, pick out a selection of lovely, colorful dahlias (or pick a collection), order the tubers, and print off the illustrations.

James Albin blooms in softest yellow.
Tuck it into an Easter card or Easter basket (or Passover greeting, or just a flowery card) and present it, perhaps with an offer to do the digging. Dahlias make great gifts for seasoned gardeners and beginning gardeners alike.

When the dahlia tubers arrive, you or the someone you love can dig a hole, add a little soil amendment, place the dahlia tubers in, eyes up, and cover them with fertile soil. Then comes the waiting (and weeding). Before long the first leaves will be visible; then the dahlia plants will grow rapidly, flourish with your good care, and produce wonderful, brilliant flowers. How lovely to be part of such a cycle!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Dahlia Tubers are Coming Soon to the Olympia Farmers Market

A customer chooses tubers
with the help of photos.
Spring is in the air! One of the surest signs of spring is the opening of the Olympia Farmers Market. After its annual three-month closure, the market's opening bell will ring on Thursday, April 4.

And Lynch Creek Farm will be there with its beautiful booth full of healthy dahlia tubers, all ready for planting.

So many dahlias... how to choose?
Dahlias are among the easiest flowers to grow, and easily the most satisfying of flowers. Those dahlia tubers, which look for all the world like off-color sweet potatoes (potatoes are tubers too, come to think of it) contain the promise of a fast-growing garden plant that will, within a few short months, grow into a full-fledged fountain of flowers. Dahlias bloom from July until the first frost, so there's a good long flower season for this sweetheart plant.

You can, of course, buy dahlia tubers online at the Lynch Creek Farm website. But at the market, you'll get the benefit of one-on-one help and advice on growing dahlias from one of the staff who knows the ins and outs of growing dahlias.

Lynch Creek Farm's dahlia tuber booth at the Olympia
Farmers Market is colorful and tempting.
If you live in the South Puget Sound area and you haven't visited the Olympia Farmers Market recently, make it a must-do this spring. You'll find everything from bouquets of tulips and daffodils to the season's first produce, artisan cheeses, fresh and cured meats, incredibly fresh fish and oysters, plant starts, baked goods, handmade soaps, and arts and crafts ranging from hand-turned wooden bowls to handmade paper to paintings, jewelry and leather goods. 

A row of food vendors offers meals on the go, a covered table area offers shelter in case of rain or hot sun, and there's live music almost continuously at the market at the north end of Capitol Way in downtown Olympia.

And of course, there's that wonderful Lynch Creek Farm booth with all those dahlia tubers. That's another sure sign of spring!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lynch Creek's Prettiest Red Dahlia Half Price Now!

Audrey Grace dahlia tubers are ON SALE!
Lovely Audrey Grace, a bright red dahlia, is one of the most satisfying garden flowers you can grow. It's also one of the most popular dahlias Lynch Creek Farm sells.  Consider pretty Audrey's advantages:

     • Amazing color. Not just red, Audrey Grace is a luminous scarlet that tends toward coral and orange. Its unusual hue is brilliant, but blends beautifully with other summer-to-fall colors, Lynch Creek Farm CEO Andy Hunter advises. It's a stunning addition to a mixed planting, pairing beautifully with peony-type dahlia Japanese Bishop or with smaller formal decorative Mardy Gras.

Audrey Grace steals the show in bouquets.
        • Prolific blooms over a long season. A formal decorative dahlia in the "small" category, Audrey Grace has full, rounded blooms that measure a good four inches across, sometimes more.  While we love it in the garden, Andy says it's most valued at Lynch Creek Farm as the quintessential cut flower. "We use this one daily in our flower bouquets all summer," Andy says. Good substance and strong stems make it ideal for arranging and it lasts well in water.

Audrey Grace is a gorgeous dahlia in the garden.
     • A compact, sturdy growing habit. Audrey Grace grows to four feet, and makes an attractive presentation in the garden. It makes good growth, and bears its flowers on strong stems long enough to be useful in bouquets. It grows good new tubers each year, too; the best evidence of that vigorous growth habit is the fact that once again, despite the demand for this standby dahlia, Lynch Creek has an abundance of healthy tubers

One of the featured dahlias at Lynch Creek Farm, Audrey Grace is available at an amazing bargain price for dahlia tubers. Ordinarily priced at a modest $5.50, it's currently selling for $2.75. That's right, it's HALF PRICE! You couldn't make a better investment for your summer garden. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Plant Mardy Gras Dahlia for Late Summer Color

Mardy Gras fairly shouts with summer color.
Think Mardi Gras is only Fat Tuesday at the end of winter?

Think again. Think beautiful dahlias. Think a stunning flower, a compact bundle of brilliance in every blossom. Mardy Gras glows in the garden on sturdy, bushy four-foot plants. Deep green foliage sets off each golden yellow bloom whose tightly rolled petioles are generously outlined in brilliant orange. A prolific bloomer, it's a star in the mixed border.

Mardy Gras is of that class of dahlias known as formal decorative and described as miniature size. The ideal cut flower, it produces three-inch blooms with strong stems that last well in flower arrangements. Lynch Creek Farm CEO Andy Hunter calls it "a real looker" with vivid color. "We use this in fall bouquets with red and burgundy dahlias, statice and sunflowers," he says.

Because it's ideal both for the border and as a cut flower, you'd think growers couldn't get enough of this beauty. But since it IS so popular, especially as a cut flower, the growers at Lynch Creek Farm planted an abundance of Mardy Gras last year. And in an ideal summer for tuber production, those Mardy Gras plants yielded an abundance of quality dahlia tubers.

At Olympia Farmers Market
The result: Mardy Gras is among Lynch Creek Farm's overstock dahlia tubers and is featured at a bargain price: $3.85, compared to the list price of $5.50.

Like most dahlias, Mardy Gras likes loamy soil with good drainage and plenty of organic material. Plant your dahlias after danger of frost is past, from March 1 in the south to as late as June 15 in the colder zones. (It can be started in a pot in the greenhouse if you're in a northern zone but can't wait to get started.) How do you get your hands on this sweetheart? Go online to the Lynch Creek Farm web site, or call the Farm toll-free at 1-888-426-0781, or go to the Olympia Farmers Market at the north end of Capitol Way in downtown Olympia.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Eat Your Weeds: The Lovely Dandelion

Dandelion flowers are beautiful—but pervasive. Photo
courtesy Maine Cooperative Extension
It's dandelion season.

If you have a dahlia bed, and you're about to begin preparing it for setting out your dahlia tubers in a month or two, you might be finding dandelions reaping the benefits of your soil amendments.

Don't despair. Dig them now, before their golden blooms begin setting seed. Use a fork or a long-bladed shovel so you get all the root; if that long, fleshy root breaks off, chances are you'll get a whole little colony of stubborn dandelions in your dahlia bed later. Keeping your dahlias weed-free early will benefit your growing dahlias all season.

If your soil is good for growing dahlias, it's likely that your dandelions, too, will have vigorous leaf growth. That's good: you can pull your weeds and eat them too. Those young dandelion leaves make a nice addition to a spring salad, with a tangy, slightly bitter flavor.

Dandelions may emerge from the mulch in your dahlia bed.
The edible greens are best before they bloom; that's also the
besttime to dig them out of your garden.
Some people steam the leaves and serve them like spinach. One of our favorite ways to use dandelion leaves is in an herbal stuffing for roasted chicken: combine them with chopped sage and rosemary, maybe with some thyme and marjoram, and scallion tops or the first of the season's chives. Mix with precooked brown or wild rice. Rinse the cavity of the chicken well, rub in a little salt, then fill with the herb-rice mixture and bake in a covered Dutch oven; uncover for the final 20-30 minutes.

In some parts of the world a major use of dandelions is for wine. We made dandelion wine a few times; one year it made a perfect sparkling wine, but we never achieved that effect again. Both dandelion wine and dandelion greens have a somewhat cleansing effect, good for a springtime tone-up.

Even if it's some time before it's safe, in your zone, to plant your dahlias, you'll want to maintain a bed of nice, clean soil for growing beautiful dahlias when summer arrives. When you can get rid of your weeds and add them to the dinner table, that's a bonus.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Few or a Lot: Ship for $5.95 at Lynch Creek Farm

Amorous, a formal decorative miniature dahlia,
 is among the overstock bargains available this season.
You can go hog-wild buying dahlia tubers at Lynch Creek Farm and the shipping won't break the bank.

Whether you order a couple of tubers or a hefty box full of enough dahlia bulbs to grow all the varieties the farm offers, shipping and handling are only $5.95. "Improvements to our shipping process," explains a Farm spokesperson, "mean more savings for our customers. Our goal is not to profit from our shipping charges."

Instead, the Lynch Creek Farm philosophy is to do everything possible to get everyone who gardens as excited about growing beautiful dahlias as Andy, Nathanael, Evé, Patty and the rest of the crew are. And if that means subsidizing the shipping costs of big orders, well, that's part of doing business at The Farm.

Jabberbox, another formal decorative miniature, is
also on the overstock list for 2013.
Shipping isn't the only bargain available this time of year for Lynch Creek Farm customers. Check out the featured bargain dahlias each week on the home page of the Lynch Creek Farm Web site. Or look for the entire list of overstock dahlia tubers: dahlias proliferated happily last summer, and the resulting oversupply of top-quality dahlia tubers means big savings for customers.

What's even better than remarkably inexpensive shipping and handling, and slashed prices on selected dahlia tubers? The farm's fine, healthy stock and customer support that will help you grow the best dahlias you've ever seen. Get your dahlia tuber order in now while supplies are at their best.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Overstock Dahlia Tubers: Bargains for Buyers!

Dinner-plate-sized Bodacious is a show-stopper.
Last year was a great season for dahlias at Lynch Creek Farm on South Puget Sound. A cool wet spring gave the dahlias a sound start. In mid-July, cool and damp weather gave way to a long, dry late season so the dahlias remained in top condition and produced lots of excellent tubers.

So this year, Lynch Creek Farm has an abundance of some of its most popular dahlia varieties. To keep the supply of planting stock in bounds, the staff at The Farm is making overstock tubers available at bargain prices, in some cases as much as 50 percent off the regular price. Buy some, give some as gifts to your favorite gardening friends and family.

What was good for dahlias last year is good for your budget this year. Lynch Creek's bargain dahlias are top-quality tubers, and the list of available overstock dahlias includes some of the best-selling tubers on the list: outrageously big, bold dinner-plate dahlia Bodacious, for example, ten inches across and flaming hot red with yellow tips. Bodacious grows 4.5 feet high and is amazing as a cut flower, a stunner in the garden and a big winner in shows.
Rebecca Lynn is the perfect wedding flower.

Each week the Farm's Web site features several picks at bargain prices. Among them this week, and available at half price, is luscious Rebecca Lynn, a bright pink formal decorative with incredible substance: tight petaloids on a long, strong stem. Rebecca Lynn is perfect for weddings, summer bouquets, and garden performance. The Hunter family's floral shop uses hundreds of stems of this sweetheart dahlia every year for wedding bouquets and arrangements.

With prices cut, your dahlia dollars go farther. Check out what other beauties Lynch Creek Farm's weekly features offer you at sale prices!

Lynch Creek Dahlia Tuber Shipping Under Way

Preparing dahlia tubers for shipping.
Lynch Creek Farm is shipping dahlia tubers now.  When will will your tubers be packaged and sent out to you?

Shipping dahlias is done according to planting zones to ensure that your tubers continue in storage in optimal conditions until shortly before the soil in your area is warm enough for planting dahlias. If you live in Florida, Hawaii or Texas, and you ordered early, chances are you already have your tubers; shipping began March 1 to those states.

Dahlia tubers are probably on the road now, just after mid-March, to Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee. And if you live in any of those states and are just now ordering dahlia tubers, they'll be sent straightaway.

Growing luscious dahlias like Audrey Grace begins
with careful calculation of the best date to begin
shipping tubers.
On April 1, the crew at Lynch Creek Farm will begin sending dahlia tubers out to growers in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.  Shipments to the rest of the country will begin on April 15. Farm personnel are careful to package your tubers so that they withstand varying weather conditions on the road to you and arrive in good condition, ready to plant.

But since soil and weather conditions vary within the various zones, be sure your soil is ready before planting your dahlias. Don't plant until danger of hard frost is past, and if it's been unusually wet, hold off for a week or so until the soil dries out, and be sure your planting area is well drained. Not sure when to plant dahlias in your area? Check with your local chapter of the American Dahlia Society; you can likely find a nearby chapter online.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fabulous White Dahlia is Lynch Creek Farm Feature

Shilo Jazzman has great color and substance.
Ever notice how depressing sale merchandise can be? Nice color but weird shape, or great style but horrible color? That's not the case with the featured dahlias currently on Lynch Creek Farm's website.

Especially worthy of note is the big, beautiful white dahlia Shilo Jazzman. It's a B size, or medium, which in dahlia parlance means a bloom from six to eight inches across. It's kind of like beverage orders in a drive-thru where you order a medium drink and you get this huge vat of liquid that will barely fit into your cup holder and that will obviously keep you looking for the next rest stop all the way home ...but we digress. A six- to eight-inch dahlia blossom means a showy bloom, perfect for dramatic vases at home or for a church or wedding floral arrangement.

Shilo Jazzman blooms abundantly.
And these dahlias are great for arranging. Shilo Jazzman has long, strong stems that hold up well in water. They hold up well in the garden, too, so this is a fine plant to add to the back of a mixed border — it grows to five feet — or make part of a dramatic dahlia bed. It has a nice, vigorous growing habit, and abundant flowers. You'll find it easy to grow from a fine, healthy dahlia tuber that will come to you at planting time from Lynch Creek Farm.

What we like best about Shilo Jazzman is its color. It's a white dahlia, but a warm white, with a lemony cast to the bases of the petioles. As an informal decorative dahlia, it has a relaxed look but beautiful substance. And perhaps best of all, right now it's a "featured dahlia" at half price!

What a dahlia! What a bargain!