|Proudly announcing the NEW ENGLAND DAHLIA SOCIETY. Please join if you are close to Worcester, MA!|
I'm so excited to be able to share this with you - I've decided to kick-off a new chapter of the American Dahlia Society which will be located, or based, right here in central New England so that we could have our exhibitions at Tower Hill Botanic Garden. I'm proud to announce the New England Dahlia Society (circa 2016). Check out our new Facebook page here.
This all came about rather recently, although I had been throwing around the idea for a couple of years now. Many of you know that I have a long history with plant society( even entering my first Dahlia show back in the 1970's at the Worcester County Horticultural Society (which is now located at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden).
Now for the surprising confession - to be honest, I am not a super passionate dahlia grower. I mean, I grow a few, but not as many as other members in the Dahlias society do - but I sense this is changing. Three years ago about 10 varieties. Last year 30 varieties, and this year? Well, you can see where this is going.
I'm starting this new chapter because I have realized that I am not alone amongst my peers. I realized this at, of all things, a cocktail reception celebrating a talk by Peter Korn from Gothenburg Botanic Garden, at the home of noted botanist and nursery woman, Ellen Hornig. We were just chatting about her new garden, and yaking it up about such rarities such as Himalayan poppies, Podophyllum concerns, the challenges of growing Eritrichium species in New England and stuff like that, when this happened:
"So, Matt...what've you been growing in your greenhouse lately?" How did that Martha Stewart photoshoot go last month?"
I replied - "well, the shoot was crazy - I mean, the planning, the photographer flying out from London at last minute, Doodles the dog getting laid right in the middle of it, then, they wanted fog, so Joe lit up the bee smoker - and when the firetrucks arrived.......oh, plus this year, for some reason, my Nerine sarniensis are blooming better than ever. Don't know why, as I've been totally abusing them.".
"..and.." I ended it with, " I'm thinking of starting a Dahlia Society chapter."
Shockingly, I didn't hear crickets. Instead, people became animated.
"I grow lots of Dahlias" said Roy Herald. He's a noted Hosta breeder, the sort of plant geek who is also a real plant explore. I mean, he traveled to China with Dan Hinkley and he's a noted authority on South African neophytes, cacti and succulents and junk without any leaves.
Really? Roy and Helen Herold would join? Wow.
"Really. I'll join if you started it? Roy said with a smile.
"...and be sure to ask Jan and Marty, they'll probably join as well, I know that they grow a mess of dahlias for cut flowers. " Roy said.
Whah? Jan Saks and Marty Shaefer? The expert Siberian Iris breeders? I know that they grow lots of cut flowers for the Boston market like sweet peas and delphinium, but dahlias? Hmmmm. Maybe this will work.
"So Matt, did I over hear that you said that you want to start a Dahlia chapter? I'll join." Chimed in Ellen Hornig". "I keep a row in the back of the vegetable garden, and a few new ones here and there around the garden.".
Rrrrrreally... Ellen Hornig -the former-proprietor-of-Senneca-Hill-nursery-Ellen-Hornig. SHE wants to grow dahlias?
The same response came from a number of plant society superstars. Glen Lord, even said that he wanted to join, and he's already started ordering tubers.
I expected my basic fanbase to love this idea. I mean, the flower farm audience, as well as those of you who gush over every luscious image on the Floret Farm site,and at, well, most any wedding blog.
To clincher was, my most geeky plant friend Glen Lord, from Lordiculturals, the potter, bonsai expert and former president of the Massachusetts Cactus and Succulent Society. He came by to go shopping at Logee's with me, and I mentioned the new group to him - and even HE became excited about joining.
Dahlia's are catnip, at least for plant geeks.
In the end, it's not surprising, really, given the new found popularity with the old fashioned dahlia. One could argue that this flower from Mexico that grows from a potato-like tuber has a bright future. They are easy, well, at least easier than most any other flower-show plant aside from the daylily, and they reproduce! More tubers next year!
So why don't you join? Hell, everyone else is!
Our first meeting is here at our house, on Saturday, Feb. 27 at noon, so that you'll have time to walk through the greenhouse and eat lunch. If you live near central Massachusetts - and that includes a 1.5 hour radius including southern Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, western NY state, northern CT or RI, I welcome you to attend this first meeting of the new New England Dahlia Society.
I'll make a clever, themed lunch (which if you've ever attended a meeting here, you kind-of know what to expect. Remember our place is not fancy, and we have puppies now, so it will be even more crazy!
Come even if you are just curious, too. Just see what this new group is all about, I know that some already who are coming have never even grown more than 2 dahlias, so we are at all levels. Please RSVP in comments here, on our new Facebook Page where I'll be updating information regarding both the chapter, or the meeting.