Dahlias at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire

©Sue Sanderson, Thompson & Morgan – Dahlias at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire.

It always intrigues me how different plants come in and out of fashion. Dahlias are one such plant that has ridden the roller coaster of popularity over the last century – but right now, they are definitely on the up!

I for one, am glad of their revival. So are the huge numbers of visitors to Anglesey Abbey’s Dahlia Festival, in Cambridgeshire each September.  I’ve visited on several occasions with my equally plant-obsessed friend who lives next door, with all kids in tow. In fact, it’s become a bit of an annual event for us all!  Each time these magnificent plants astonish me with their vibrant colours and huge variety of flower shapes.

It’s not just the plants that impress me. The gardeners that grow them to perfection deserve enormous credit, and the creativity with which they are displayed is breath-taking.

Dahlias decorate the trunks of trees at Anglesey Abbey.

©Sue Sanderson, Thompson & Morgan – Dahlias decorate the trunks of trees at Anglesey Abbey.

You might think that taking young children to a flower festival would be a recipe for disaster – I know I did. How wrong I was! In addition to the borders, many of the displays use cut Dahlia flowers placed into test-tube style vases. These can be attached to trees, inserted into lawns and displayed in all manner of other creative ways. It makes for a much more interactive experience which appeals to the children and grown-ups alike.

Dahlias appeal to young and old

©Sue Sanderson, Thompson & Morgan – A creative display of Dahlias appeals to young and old!

Sadly we missed it last year, but as luck would have it, my friend was bequeathed an enormous number of rather large Dahlia tubers. They were unwanted by their previous owners.  Crazy, I know! So, it was decided … this year she would create our own Dahlia festival!

Dahlia tubers were potted up

©Sue Sanderson, Thompson & Morgan – Dahlia tubers were potted up in late spring.

The Dahlia tubers overwintered in crates in the greenhouse, and she planted them up into large pots this spring.  When they emerged from the greenhouse the Dahlia plants looked quite magnificent.  They were planted with care, watered well and given a good mulch of manure.  Sturdy stakes were inserted in the ground to support them as they grow.

Rows of Dahlia plants in the garden

©Sue Sanderson, Thompson & Morgan – Rows of Dahlia plants have been planted in the garden.

On a side note, if you are wondering what the straw-like material is; it’s just a pile of dead weed and grass that was cleared from the site. When my friend went to remove it we discovered ground-nesting bees had made a home there.  Always keen to live and let live, the bees and their nest have been left well alone. These helpful little insects are under threat and need all the help we can give them.

However, there are other garden creatures, that we could well do without.  Slugs and snails thrive in our gardens, and unfortunately they have a particular taste for Dahlias!

Slug damage on Dahlia plant

©Sue Sanderson, Thompson & Morgan – Slug damage on Dahlia plant.

With the Dahlia festival under threat, it was necessary to take sensible precautions! A combination of slug pellets and copper slug collars has been put in place, and so far there has been very little damage.

Slug and snail control around Dahlia plants

©Sue Sanderson, Thompson & Morgan – Slug and snail control around Dahlia plants.

By September, there should be a fabulous display of dazzling Dahlias. Whilst not on the same grand scale as Anglesey Abbey, I’m certain that it will still be impressive.

Are you growing Dahlias this year? Let us know how you are getting on at our Facebook page and if you’re looking for guides on how to grow dahlias from seed, check out our dahlia hub page – our one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about growing dahlias.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This