A packed house filled the Seniors Activity Centre in Williams Lake on May 5 to hear all about dahlias.
The Williams Lake Garden Club’s monthly meet up saw more than 30 gardeners come out to learn from local cut flower growers Erica Macnab and Lacey Tomlinson.
Both women live in the Russet Bluffs area and have a passion for gardening, with a special fondness for dahlias, which they each sell as cut flowers later in the summer at flower stands near their homes. Tomlinson also sells cut flowers at Mint & Lime Catering downtown Williams Lake.
The pair presented in great detail and answered questions for the audience about their techniques and processes for growing dahlias, flowers which originally came from the central highlands of Central America and Mexico. While not a hot climate flower, growing in higher elevation, they also do not overwinter in Canada.
Dahlias also grow from tubers, and so were initially brought to Europe as a food source during the potato famine. The tubers were not popular as a food source, however, the beautiful blooms have been a beloved garden staple for many gardeners ever since.
But because the tubers do not overwinter in the ground in our climate, growing the dramatic and beautiful blooms can be daunting for novice gardeners or at least novice dahlia gardeners.
The knowledgeable gardeners went through a highly detailed presentation complete with handouts on different options for starting the dahlia tubers in the spring, selecting tubers, “waking up” the tubers, staking and labelling tubers, pinching off plants, soil conditions, dis-budding, digging up the tubers and proper cleaning and winter storage.
If the long list of steps and considerations did not deter you, then you are a great candidate for dahlia gardening.
If it did, then perhaps you and I will be buying some beautiful dahlias from Macnab and Tomlinson’s flower stands later this summer, Fox Flowers on Fetters and Something Bloomed, respectively.
While I have a fondness for the beautiful blooms, my dedication to high-maintenance gardening is not even close to the level of these two impressive green thumbs.
The pair were selling some of their surplus tubers to garden club members and Macnab said she grows over 100 varieties of dahlias while Tomlinson said she estimates she grows somewhere in the neighbourhood of 30 to 40 varieties.
The Williams Lake Garden Club meetings take place on the first Thursday of each month at the Seniors Activity Centre at 176 Fourth Avenue N. Doors are at 6:30 p.m. and monthly guest speakers start at 7 p.m.