Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

THERE Are Some Things You Can Always Rely on. [...]; Long Given the Cold Shoulder by Purists, These Exotic Blooms Add Drama to Borders

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

THERE Are Some Things You Can Always Rely on. [...]; Long Given the Cold Shoulder by Purists, These Exotic Blooms Add Drama to Borders

Article excerpt

Byline: With Carol GARDENS Klein of TV's Gardeners' World

THERE are some things you can always rely on. Each year around now at Glebe Cottage the timehonoured ceremony of "Putting out the Dahlias" takes place.

Maybe not as famous as the Notting Hill Carnival but just as celebratory. The garden has a party atmosphere now anyway - crocosmias in brilliant yellows, fiery reds and sizzling oranges set beds and borders aflame.

All our flowers seem bigger and better, all growth is lusty and vivacious. It's the same everywhere. It's just a good year!

For an extra punch to wake you up and get you dancing, you can't beat dahlias and they, too, are exceptional this year. As well as having lots of them in the borders and pots around the garden, we keep a few in reserve and carry them out in their full glory to swell the ranks of what's already there.

They've made fine plants and can be hidden in the undergrowth or stood on upturned pots for extra height so their glamorous flowers can be seen rising from clumps of other vividly coloured flowers or mingling with the bronze foliage of cotinus or cannas.

Dahlias are from Mexico and Central America. Isn't it obvious? Dahlias do not know how to be subtle. Their big blatant flowers make a cacophony of colour. At one time gardeners of the subtle persuasion would not dream of growing dahlias. Too often they were flower outcasts confined to the allotments and vegetable patches of enthusiasts, many of whom grew them (and still do) exclusively for show.

But thanks to prestigious champions such as Christopher Lloyd, whose garden at Great Dixter in Northiam, east Sussex, became the epitome of all things adventurous, dahlias have made a comeback.

Although they have been begrudgingly accepted into garden society, they will never be regarded as respectable. And thank goodness.

Their appeal is direct. The red of Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff' is the red of fresh blood. To show it off it needs subtle companions - tall molinia, Cotinus 'Grace' or the grey leaves of elaeagnus 'Quicksilver'.

Sometimes it is more exciting, though, to let it do battle.

Confronting the tall lime green heads of euphorbia palustris or e.

schillingii, it is at its ostentatious best: the green of the spurge is more vividly acidic, the red more blatantly red. Mix in a few heads of Crocosmia 'Lucifer', light the blue touch paper and retire.

The Bishop has been accepted into polite society but there are hundreds of other dahlias that deserve a chance to enter our gardening consciousness.

Of those with bronze foliage, D. 'David Howard' is one of the best. It produces double soft orange flowers in profusion and, although not as ostentatious as some, it is always arresting.

The single D. 'Moonfire' (Moonshine) has a yellow background colour and rings of orange and red around the central disc. …

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