For those keen on growing dahlias without a long wait for blooms, Arthur says that Bishop’s Children dahlias are “amazing and fast to grow from seed and single dahlia that will flower amazingly by July if sown in March. The seedlings will grow to flower in a tapestry of rich summer pudding and Jaffa cake orange colours.” Finally, Arthur recommends the Waltzing Mathilda for its “wonderful nectarine pink single flowers”, which he describes as “truly dazzling and prolific”: “I like to grow it with Thunbergia ‘African Sunset’, as this delicately clambers through its dark green foliage.”
Erin Benzakein, flower farmer
Flower farmer Erin Benzakein, whose prize flower crop grown at Floret Farm in Washington’s Skagit Valley is comprised of over 850 dahlia varieties, and claims the flower to be the favourite of all she’s ever grown, as “they come in a dazzling rainbow of colours, they produce an abundance of flowers for cutting from midsummer to the first autumn frost, and the range of shapes and sizes available is staggering.” Erin is particularly keen on the collerette (collarette in the US) dahlias, which suit the current trend for naturalistic planting schemes. “They have an almost wildflower-like quality, unlike some other dahlias,” says Erin, “and they are more delicate, with single blooms and a collar of ruffled petals. You can thread them in with other flowers and they give an arrangement such a beautiful look.”
Of all of the collerette dahlia varietals, Erin prefers ‘Ferncliff Dolly’ in sugar pink with a contrasting yellow ruffle; ‘Appleblossom’, which is the palest creamy apricot; and ‘April Heather’, which is pale yellow suffused with apricot. In her book, Discovering Dahlias, Erin also mentions the semicactus ‘Henriette’ with its softest salmon blooms, peachy-orange ‘Pam Howden’– the most perfect waterlily type – and the supremely popular ‘Café au Lait’, which is her farm’s most requested dahlia.