Gardening fads come and go so choose what you want


In the gardening world, I loathe what’s being called fashionable this season.

Garden trends come and go.

Whether it’s driven by the Chelsea Flower Show, influential designers, or even bolshie production nurseries dictating trending plants.

I just don’t have time for it.

I believe in planting what you like and what works for you and your garden.

That doesn’t mean ignoring cultural trends such as sustainability issues, ie banning the use of peat, using non-natives unnecessarily and implementing ways to reuse water.

No, no, when it comes to trends, I’m talking purely about fashion over function.

Iridescent dahlias

One such plant that I adore and that often falls victim to fads is the dahlia.

One minute it’s trendy; The next is less popular than a 40-foot Leyland cypress hedge with your sunbathing neighbors.

Dahlia ‘Happy Days Yellow’.

Lift those tubers

Like many plants, dahlias also run out at this time of year. They can survive a frost or two before they get too scruffy, but it’s a lot easier to tell what they are before they reach that stage.

In the north east of Scotland we don’t have the luxury of keeping dahlias in the ground like they can further south.

They would wait a while for a reappearance (they would almost certainly be mush).

Instead, after a frost, we go out with the empty bread bowls and lift the tubers out of the ground.

Volunteer George picks up the dahlias.

Similar to lifting tatties, gently poke your fork around the outsides.

Avoid skewered tubers skewered on the fork tines.

Take your time (like tatties), work your way around them from the outside and wiggle until they lift freely and easily.

Then shake excess soil back onto the bed/pot and have your secateurs handy.

Cut off the foliage just above the top of the bulb, where you see the growth shoots have started, and throw that in the compost heap.

Next, prepare your tray and put the tubers in here.

Dahlia is removed.

Most importantly, have a label and pen ready and write down what specific dahlias are in that bowl.

Unless you’re Uri Geller, you can’t tell what the variety is after the foliage is off!

We bundle the boxes so that the same varieties are in the same boxes to make it easier next spring.

Any that are unknown, or those you cannot tell if the foliage or flowers are all gone; placed in the ‘Lucky Dip’ bowl.

Gardener Judy removes the leaves

Let them drain and dry

We give them one more hand to get rid of any mushy, weak or powdery unhealthy tubers.

These will be obvious, don’t worry.

Next we use a nail to poke a small hole in the stems that go into the bulb.

The tubers are brought inside and turned over on a netted bench to allow any water or moisture inside to drain for a few days.

Then we give them a final hand brush to remove dried soil from the tubers.

Remove unhealthy tubers.

Finally, we put them in a tray over the winter where it’s nice and dry. There is much debate as to what is the best way to do this.

I’ve had people say they do it in sand, others in newspaper, some even say in dry compost, but basically it’s important to keep them dry.

I myself made the mistake of lovingly placing dahlias in trays, individually wrapped in newspaper.

Followed by putting them in a garage on the estate for the winter, only to later find the garage was damp.

The papers got wet and finally the tubers.

Poke holes in the stems to allow water to drain.

I saved the most, but learned my lesson.

In the spring you can plant them out directly as soon as the danger of frost has passed.

However, what I prefer is to pot or place them in our soil/compost mix in April (when the frost is still plentiful) and start shooting them indoors before planting them in late May (when the frost is over). plant outdoors.

It’s a good way to give them a head start.

Dahlias stored for the winter.


There are many types of dahlias to choose from.

All sorts of colours, shapes and sizes. Anemone, ball, cactus, collar, decorative, mignon, orchid, peony, pompom, semi-cactus, solitary, water lily.

Surely there is one out there that suits you!

Spy on your local garden center for bulb packs.

They are as simple as planting them just below the soil surface and giving the strain the space it needs. Some get huge.

At Haddo House we use them very liberally in the courtyard pots, in the annual bed displays in the main patio garden and to fill in gaps in the herb border or anniversary lawn.

I already miss the joy they bring.

Already a subscriber? log in

[Gardening fads come and go so pick what you like]