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How Are Your Dahlias, Darling?

There is one flower that sends gardeners into total rapture, and that flower is the dahlia.  Ranging from dainty blooms to flamboyant twelve-inch giants, these easy-to-grow beauties flower non-stop between May and November, showing at their absolute best right now in mid-September.

If you think your eyes deserve a special treat, the Greenwich Dahlia Society is presenting the 3rd Annual Dahlia Show this Wednesday September 15th and Thursday September 16th.  Entrance is free and is open to the public.

I asked Madeleine Marchese, one of the organizers, to help me understand what makes these flowers so special.  “Some people are just fanatical about their dahlias,” she told me, “and the more I learn about these flowers, the more enthralled I’m becoming.  There is such an amazing range of colors and sizes – plus the deer don’t eat them.”

Considering how much time dahlia growers put into bringing their flowers to their absolute peak condition before a show, I’d say it’s a jolly good thing the deer stay away.  Coming up with that one perfect blossom is no easy task, and growers are ruthless about pinching back stems and smaller blossoms to encourage one stand-out specimen.  Just before a show, the plant is watered deeply, and the stem is cut at a certain time of day and kept in water until show time.

The Greenwich Dahlia Society show is a judged competition that attracts garden clubs and horticultural societies from all over the country.  There is also a special section for novice dahlia growers.  Many of the novices are gardeners who have taken classes at the Garden Education Center in preparation for this show.

The Greenwich Dahlia Society Show is at the Garden Education Center, 130 Bible Street, Cos Cob on Wednesday September 15th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday September 16th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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