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.

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