Friday, May 24, 2013

Time's Short for Dahlia Tubers at Market

Andy shows off a favorite variety.
 Memorial Day Weekend and May 30 to June 2 will likely be the last chance to get Lynch Creek Farm's great dahlia tubers at the Olympia Farmers Market.

It's still a good time to plant dahlias in the northern parts of the country, but the window for planting is getting close to closing for the season. Nevertheless, the booth at the market still offers a great selection of dahlia tubers, and Nathanael or Evé or whoever is on duty at the market will offer great tips for making sure your dahlias will be successful once they're planted.

Nathanael fills a customer's
While you're at the Olympia Farmers Market, you can look for the season's early produce, herb and veggie starts, fruit trees and berry plants, cut flowers, artisan cheeses, baked goods, fresh and cured meats, seafood, fruit, and a host of handcrafted items from turned wooden bowls to delicate jewelry. It's asparagus time, and if you're really lucky, there might be morel mushrooms, another seasonal delicacy.

But the prime place to head for, of course, is Lynch Creek Farm's booth, with dahlias from tiny pom pon dahlias to dinner-plate dahlia show-stoppers. And once the dahlia tubers are gone, it won't be long before the farm gang is back at the market with stunning flowers. Maybe even before the dahlias start. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What's in a Dahlia Name? A Lot of Imagination!

Chimacum Katie
A dahlia by any other name...

Polyventon Supreme, Hugs 'n Kisses, Danjo Doc, Barbarry Red BaronCamano Ariel: What's dahlia-like about those names? Not much. The names are almost as weird and widely varied as the names of racehorses. But think about it: The American Dahlia Society currently recognizes more than 2,750 varieties; with hundreds of new varieties entering the scene each year, naming is a challenge.
Hissy Fitz

Some hybridizers still attempt to make the names descriptive of some aspect of the variety, like Lavender Ruffles; some individualize them by incorporating a line identifier, hybridizer name or location in the moniker, like David and Leone Smith's Chimacum Katie.

Of the yellow dahlias grown at Lynch Creek Farm, for instance, several have descriptive names. Baby Yellow is a single yellow miniature; Golden Star and Golden Egg give a sense of the color and shape of a slender-petaled orchid type and a rounded waterlily type.

Blackberry Ice
Sunflare has distinctive pointy petals in sunshine yellow, and Midnight Sun is rounded and slightly peachy like an Alaska sunset. Yellow Bird is a collarette with feathery petaloids surrounding the center disc. But Honka? Hissy Fitz?

A surprising number of food names for dahlias suggest a sense of the color and, sometimes, the shape of the flower: Ginger Snap is a golden, flattish waterlily dahlia; A La Mode and Peaches-N-Cream have creamy-white tips, while Peaches is simply peachy. Lollipop is round and orange and sweet; Citron de Cap is pale lemony in color and big and deep as a small citron melon.

Falcon's Future
Blackberry Ice is the color of blackberry ice cream; it reminds one of the color of the plate when your blackberry pie comes a la mode.

Mrs. Black is anything but black. You'll never see a falcon the flamboyant yellow, coral and cerise of Falcon's Future. Or, probably, a banker as pink and pretty-petaled as Barbarry Banker.  You might expect Pucker Up to be lipstick-red—but no, it's yellow. Lemon yellow. Puckery lemon yellow.

Oh, those crazy names of dahlias. What's your favorite?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Newsfeed: The Dahlias Are Planted at Lynch Creek

Rows in the Farm's field are set to receive the dahlia tubers.
The dahlias of 2013 are planted at Lynch Creek Farm.

All the lovely, fat dahlia tubers that will produce a riot of blooms in late summer have been snuggled into the loamy soil at Lynch Creek Farm between Shelton and Olympia near Oyster Bay.

It's no small thing, planting dahlias, when it's whole fields full of them. The site is cleared of any plant debris from the previous season. Trenches are dug and the soil enriched with compost.

The field that has heavy, clayish soil is reinforced with sand to increase its drainage capacity; dahlias don't like having wet feet, which can cause the dahlia bulbs or, more correctly, dahlia tubers to develop rot.

Tubers are set carefully into the ground, eyes-up.
The other growing area is sandy, so the addition of peat moss and plenty of rich organic material helps to build up the soil. The difference between them points up the fact that with a little help, almost any soil can be amended to grow dahlias.

After the soil is ready, the tubers are placed eye-up in the ground two to three feet apart, depending on the ultimate size of the plant. Yes, dahlia tubers have eyes, like that popular edible tuber, the potato. The eye is ultimately the sprout (unlike potatoes, dahlia tubers tend to have a single eye) that will grow from a cluster of emerging shoots into the plant that produces the beautiful dahlias we all love.

Planted tubers are covered with about six inches of soil.
The gang at the Farm will keep the rows in the planted field well-weeded so that the opportunistic weeds don't rob the emerging dahlia plants of nutrients.

Right now, a spate of fine spring weather is warming the soil to give the dahlias of the 2013 season a great start. Before we know it, the dahlias will be up and growing.

Until those first green shoots appear and start growing, it's a waiting game.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Best Half-Price Dahlias: Last Set of the Season!

Planting's just concluded at the Farm.

It's dahlia planting time everywhere.

If you haven't ordered your dahlia tubers for the summer of 2013, now's the time to choose from the specially priced, specially chosen pick-of-the-week bargain dahlia tubers featured at Lynch Creek Farm. These are top quality tubers from varieties that the Farm has in abundance this year: some that just produced phenomenally well last year and other dahlias that are plentiful because Lynch Creek grows extras for cutting for wholesale and the Olympia Farmers Market.  They include:

Lollipop, with sought-after soft orange-red coloring in a three-inch formal decorative bloom. Lollipop is a great producer on a bushy three-and-a-half-foot plant that provides a burst of fall color for garden borders. Like most of the varieties the farm offers, this is an easy dahlia to grow, and with small compact blooms, it's good for windy areas.

Tempest, a formal decorative 
dahlia with four- to six-inch blooms. It combines intense hues of coral, orange and red. Although its stems aren't long, it's a prolific bloomer and a great dahlia for cutting. Plants are four feet high. Who could resist this splash of color in the garden? 

Gingeroo, a luscious bronze-orange formal decorative dahlia in the miniature category. Its compact blooms are approximately three inches across. Neat in appearance and exuberant in growth and bloom habit, Gingeroo thrives in summer conditions and is a showy exhibition flower, stunning in the garden border. Plants are four feet tall.

Alfred C
Alfred C, a quintessential dinnerplate dahlia. As big and bold as Gingeroo is small and tidy, this semi-cactus type dahlia features blossoms ten inches or more across in a similar blend of orange and yellow. As with many of the larger dahlias, it blooms late in the summer and into the fall on five-foot plants.

Keith H., a five-inch informal decorative that looks like a waterlily dahlia. Shades of orange, yellow, bronze and gold blend in this pretty dahlia that shines in the flower bed and in arrangements. It grows on a four-foot plant.

Amorous, a great variegated cut flower with strong stems on vigorous five-foot plants. A formal decorative type about three inches across, these compact blossoms feature burgundy-colored splatters on apricot. It is stunning in summer and fall bouquets and a great favorite at the Farm.

Just Peachy
Just Peachy, a fine cut flower in a luscious peach and yellow blend. Big deep blooms are up to six inches across with semi-cactus form and great stems on a five-foot plant. It's amazing for the garden and for showing as well.

Pucker Up
Pucker Up, a semi-cactus in bright (not surprisingly) lemon yellow.  Terrific in arrangements or as a display variety, Pucker Up has unique dark foliage on a four-foot plant. Blooms are about five inches across.

James Albin
James Albin, a standby for dependable form and color. Its six- to eight-inch blooms are striking on a four-and-a-half-foot plant, and good for cutting. This formal decorative variety has a long blooming season.

Polyventon Supreme
Polyventon Supreme, a soft yellow ball dahlia that's a long-time favorite at the Farm. Five-foot plants yield lots of five-inch blooms on long, strong stems that make it an excellent cut flower in a go-with-everything color.

Sakwa, a simply marvelous cut flower. Intense pink with hints of white at the base of the pretty laciniated petaloids, Sakwa blooms boldly and has great stems for cutting; it's the ideal dahlia for use at weddings. Flowers are six to eight inches across on four-foot plants. 

Shilo Jazzman, a superb cut flower. Six-inch informal decorative blossoms on long, strong stems are white with a velvety, creamy yellow at the base of the petioles. This is another one that's great for flower arranging. Plants are five feet tall. 

Cornel, another Farm mainstay. This deep red ball dahlia with four- to five-inch blooms on long stems is great for cutting and adds new color to the garden late in the season.

Ken's Choice
Ken's Choice, a Cream of the Crop winner. Deep, dark red color and a desirable mid-size ball form make these four-inch blooms great as cut flowers for show or bouquets and showy in the garden as well. Ken's Choice produces abundant flowers on a four-foot plant.