The Gardener's Guide to Growing Dahlias

The Gardener's Guide to Growing Dahlias - Gardening Book

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The Gardener's Guide to Growing Dahlias

by Gareth Rowlands

160 pp, 84 color photos, 17 line drawings, 7 x 9 1/2", paperback.

The strong forms and eye-catching colors of cannas make them perfect for planting either in small numbers as focal points or in bigger groups to create a subtropical ambience. This new book in the popular Gardener's Guide series includes a comprehensive A-Z of cannas, concentrating on the hybrid forms for which the genus is famous, but also including a selection of interesting species. Illustrated with gorgeous photographs and specially commissioned botanical drawings, this is an informative and fascinating book for both established canna growers and newcomers alike.

Bold Colours

Borders of dahlias planted in bold blocks of colour are spectacular. Taller varieties (averaging 1.2-1.5m/ 4-5ft tall) are positioned at the back of the border with shorter varieties (1-1.2 m/ 3-4 ft tall) at the front. Alternatively, bedding dahlias (60-90 cm/ 2-3 ft tall) can be grown together in beds to give a massed colour display that looks particularly effective set off by a closely cropped lawn.

A number of dahlia varieties are described as 'dwarf bedders', but they vary in height depending on conditions. However, all these shorter varieties generally make good garden plants and can be attractive either on their own or in mixed plantings. Even taller ones can do well at the back of a border or as 'spot' plants.

Dahlias also provide a spectacular focus in herbaceous borders where they can be selected to maintain a note of colour throughout the summer and into the autumn. Varieties with very dark foliage and striking blooms can be used to produce vivid contrasts of colour, perfectly setting off more subtle herbaceous plants. 'Hot' borders containing different varieties of red-flowered dahlias along with other fiery-shaded flowers and foliage are very popular and effective. In the red border at The Priory, Kemerton, Worcestershire, dahlias dominate the back of the border, where 'Bishop of Llandaff' with its purple foliage contrasts with the paler foliage of 'Blazdon Red'. In front are some complimentary dwarf nicotianas and sedums. The main theme in this type of planting may be the colour but the different textures of the foliage also play an important part. A planting on this scale would be overwhelming in an average garden but just a couple of plants of two or three varieties could be selected for a small and attractive group.

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