If you’ve not discovered the floriferous sea of multicoloured blooms next to Two Sisters’ Lawn, then hasten your step and head in the direction of a once in a year delight as dahlias are the true stars of August!
Under the direction of head gardener Neil Miller, hundreds of dahlias have been planted in a kaleidoscope wave of colour that greets visitors as they ascend the steps from Blue Corner and arrive at Two Sisters’.
We over-winter these beauties and bring them out after the last frost in late May, early June, plant them, stake them, feed them and then trust them to delight us for months to come.
Hailing originally from Mexico, dahlias love the morning sunshine and excel if they receive 6-8 hours of warm sunshine every day, so they love this sunny corner of the Estate.
These incredible flowers come in all shapes, sizes and colours and will reward you, if you keep on top of the deadheading, by producing blooms throughout the summer and long into autumn.
Grown from tubers, they belong to the Asteraceae family, which includes the daisy, zinnia, chrysanthemum and sunflower.
True dahlia fans grow an array of flowers from tiny pom poms with their perfect 2 inch heads to humongous dinner plate blooms with flowers up to 15 inches in diameter.
As soon as the first frost has finished, we cut the stems down to 4 inches, dig the plants up, wash them, dry them upside down for two weeks in the greenhouse, and then we leave them on the benches in the storeroom through winter. At the end of April we pot them on in 5 L pots with compost and placed them in a polytunnel. At the beginning of June we plant them out with hazel polls (cut from the woods on the Estate) we don’t divide the plants because we want large specimens.
We deadhead the plants daily and ensure that they are tied to their stakes. Earwigs used to be a problem for dahlia growers in the UK, but we don’t see so many these days in gardens. If you do have an earwig problem then you can pop a flowerpot on the top of the stake and fill it with straw, this will attract the earwigs in for a little sleep. You can then empty the pots in the morning. If you’ve got good birdlife in the garden then slugs won’t be a problem but keep vigilant.