Dahlias with Frances

Recently I wrote about dahlias in my Q&A for The New York Times. I like to call on outside experts in these little columns not just because I don't know everything (which is a big reason) but also because I think it adds another layer to hear from another person and learn more about their interests. For this particular week's special guest I had to look no further than my friend Frances Palmer.

Frances is a very talented potter who lives in Connecticut and grows about 80 varieties of dahlias in her cutting garden. Even though the column came out a few weeks ago, I wanted to show you some images of Frances's collection and also a sneak peek at the tubers that she overwinters in the basement of her barn.

I plan to pay a visit to Frances this summer and show you this year's dahlia collection.

She photographed these headshots of her dahlias in full bloom to keep track of her favorites from year to year.

She especially likes the huge, 12-14 inch wide dinner-plate dahlias (above). In past years, snooty types used to look down their noses at these gargantuas but Frances makes them seem fashionable again—especially when you see them displayed in her beautiful vases. See her website here.

These huge tubers are several years old and produce towering dahlia plants seven or eight feet high.
They are packed for a winter's nap in sawdust, peat moss, and shredded paper so that they don't rot.

Frances's cutting garden in its bare pre-planted state a few weeks ago. I'll show you this space in all its summer glory in a few months.

Read the full New York Times Q&A: Don't Plant Dahlias Too Early here.


Xtine said...

I want all these beautiful dahlias. Where can I get them??

Francine Gardner said...

Love the post on Dalhias. Just planted them this week. My biggest frustration is a lack of space for a true cutting garden. I intermix them in my perennial beds according to their colors. dalhias make such wondeful summer arrangements.

Stephen said...

Thank you Francine. Hopefully your perennials help support the top-heavy dahlia plants and you don't have to stake them so much.

Stephen said...

Hi Xtine.
Frances recommends these two places:

Swan Island Dahlias

Ferncliff Gardens

Posey Parker said...

Can't wait to see the follow up!!!

Lisa said...

Hi Stephen,
I came across "What Were The Skies Like" while researching for a post on Frances Palmer. I have had the pleasure of visiting with her via email and am so impressed with her work in her studio and in her garden. How wonderful that you share your friendship & garden stories here on your beautiful blog. I also grew up in west Texas and am an avid gardener now living in Lexington Kentucky via Los Angeles! Stephen, I look forward to visiting again soon and learning more about the work that you are doing in the garden and for the conservancy as well.

Stephen Orr said...

Hi Lisa,

Yes Frances is such a talented person. It's nice to meet a fellow Texan and I hope you continue to enjoy my blog. Happy gardening to you!

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