Tag Archive: dahlias

WP_20160721_11_48_42_ProThe Walled Garden is really moving into overdrive and looks fantastic. My latest session- a short one- at Blickling was another warm day.

I began the session an hour earlier than usual, and it was a good plan, because by midday the heat was pretty oppressive. Digging over an area next to the runner beans saw some serious weeds removed and I followed this up with some hoeing around the beans themselves.

WP_20160721_11_55_22_ProMy fellow volunteers were also involved in weeding and one or two were harvesting- there’s plenty of stuff for use in the restaurant and some will be packed up for offering to visitors, in return for a donation. My ‘pea tunnel’ created last week seems to have survived, though the peas themselves are not looking so good.

The rest of the gardens are also in full splendour and I chatted to Assistant Head Gardener, Steve about the hours of work he put into the parterre garden removing bindweed earlier in the season- he told me it was the equivalent of ‘triple digging’! The double borders and White Garden are also looking vibrant in the sunshine.

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Elsewhere, Norfolk Peter was working with a colleague from a local firm to weld together the arches that will sit across the main path in the walled garden and eventually provide a wonderful ‘tunnel of fruit’.

I finished off my morning with some serious hoeing around the dahlias that are just about to flower alongside the east wall of the Walled Garden (see picture below). Next week will, I hope, see them in their full glory, and I’ll try to capture them in my next post.

WP_20160721_11_45_39_ProFurther Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

WP_20150625_14_59_03_ProAnother two week break from Blickling, and this week’s session was hot, hot, hot!

Shorts (well, nearly), were the order of the day along with my new National Trust polo shirt. I joined the other volunteers in the Orangery Garden initially, weeding among the Hellebores and ferns, an area I’d helped tackle earlier in the season, but which now was awash with Foxglove seedlings.

Quite satisfying working in the shade and after a good shower of rain a few days before, working my border fork around the plants and leaving the odd seedling where there was an obvious gap. The ladies and I managed to clear one of the island beds just before lunch, and a couple of us then went over with gardener Rob to the Double Borders to continue filling gaps with Dahlia tubers, some not looking up to much, but we shall see…

The Parterre looking neat and with early hints at the colour to come...

The Parterre looking neat and with early hints at the colour to come…

These borders, typical of many British gardens at this time of year, have completed the first spring rush of fresh foliage and flower colour and are giving way to the clipped forms of shrubs and the more subtle colouring and tones that presage a  later summer riot of colour, which I look forward to seeing. To add a further bit of interest, there’s also currently a sculpture display in the gardens, featuring some lovely stained glass and various shells.

The garden team have obviously been busy in recent weeks filling the gaps left by the spring bulbs with a host of annuals, all looking ready to romp away. The plant that yielded most visitor interest while we were planting was the Beetroot (‘Bulls blood’) which had been cleverly grouped at the front of the borders and gives a really vibrant splash of red when the other colours around at this time are more muted. Well, we finished our planting task in good time as the warmth of the day reached its peak…

Beetroot 'Bull's Blood' causing a stir in the Double Borders

Beetroot ‘Bull’s Blood’ causing a stir in the Double Borders

And later I came along for another ‘roasting’- a most enjoyable ‘Hog Roast’ put on by the Trust as a ‘thank you’ for staff and volunteers. I had a good chat with Head Gardener, Paul and a couple of other volunteers, one who acts as a room guide in the House, the other as a guide in the R.A.F. Oulton Museum on site. There was a Jazz band and the food was scrummy too. 

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener


Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) 'Candy Floss'

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) ‘Candy Floss’

This week’s question comes from a recent blog follower, Elena who lives in Bergamo, Italy:

“Yesterday I bought three big Amaryllis bulbs, any tips?! There was a Dutch flower stand in my city and I couldn’t resist!”

Elena, I can do no better than show this useful video of the way to pot these wonderful bulbs. After you’ve completed the potting up, place the pot in a warm, dark place and watch for signs of new leaves. Once these are showing, then place the pot in a bright, sunny, frost-free place indoors – a windowsill would do fine. Planted about now you should have some glorious colour at Christmas!

amaryllis christmasWhilst on the subject of keeping things frost-free over winter, there is one golden rule when trying to protect tender plants over the coldest months: don’t over water.

When temperatures are low, the great enemy of plants is dampness, as rot may set in. During very cold spells it is usually best to withhold water entirely. Plants that are dormant or resting should in any case be watered very rarely, perhaps just enough to prevent complete drying out. Plants with fleshy roots, and bulbs, corms, tubers, rhizomes and other storage organs must be kept quite dry and frost-free or they will rot. They should be stored in containers of clean, dry sand or gritty compost. If stored in a greenhouse, the atmosphere must also be kept on the dry side, and should be ventilated when the general temperature allows. If you have an extra cold spell and you can’t keep the air temperature up, you can protect your plants to some extent against frost damage by covering them with horticultural fleece, dry newspaper or ‘bubble wrap’ plastic anchored with stones.

dahlia tubers

Dahlia tubers are best lifted, cleaned off, dried and then stored in sand or gritty compost before significant frost

Old School Gardener

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dying dahlias 4This week’s question concerns some rather sad looking Dahlias (see picture), and comes from Jen Reteaj of Loughton, Essex. The plants are flowering, but the leaves have yellowed and then turned brown. It appears that some other nearby plants are also affected. Jen says:

‘It’s got quite serious as you can see from the pictures. I have sprayed, fed and watered them but still they die! Is it a virus?’

Dahlias can be prone to a number of diseases (and that’s what this is, I think). The pictures you’ve sent suggest that the stems are still green and looking healthy, so I’d rule out over – watering and consequently rot setting in. As you say you’ve been watering and feeding them so we can also probably rule out mineral deficiency of some sort. The browning of the leaves (if it’s occurred from the bottom and moved up the plant) sounds like a disease, probably fungal. The recent hot, and sometimes humid weather we’ve had is perfect for such problems. The only safe remedy is to remove the affected leaves for burning or disposal (not to compost). If there are some uninfected leaves left you might try to save the plant by watering only in the morning, so leaving the leaves dry into the night time. If the disease has spread throughout the plant (and your pictures suggest it has), I’d remove everything (including the tuberous roots and stems) and dispose as above.

The Dahlia was named after Anders Dahl (a swedish botanist), born on 17th March, 1751

For the future you might like to be aware of some common Dahlia disease and pest problems:

Ringspot- large, yellow circles appear on the leaves. This viral disease is transmitted by insects called thrips. it infects the dahlia’s roots and spreads throughout the plant. Gradually the rings on the leaves grow larger and brown spots may develop in the middle of each ring. It is not usually possible to treat the sick plant.

Dahlia Mosaic- this is another root-based viral disease. It gets its name from the alternating light and dark green patches that appear on leaves. These appear because the virus causes an imbalance in the plant’s chlorophyll. Yellow leaf spots and veining are also symptoms. The infection is usually spread by aphids and once infected it is usually very difficult to treat, so once gain you need to remove the plant and burn it.

Powdery Mildew – grey, fuzzy leaves that fall off is the symptom of powdery mildew. This is a fungal disease that infects dahlias when it is very humid, but it may also strike in dry weather. It is also more common in plants that are planted close together (restricting airflow). The disease can be treated with wettable sulphur once a week.

Insects- thrips are small flying insects that can destroy dahlia flowers by sucking out their juice as well as brining Ringspot. They can be controlled by placing sticky traps around the plant and spraying the plant with insecticidal soap (this also works well on controlling aphids). Leaf borers can also be a problem for dahlias. These tiny worms burrow into the stem and this kills the plant. The problem can be dealt with through applying a bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis when watering – this kills the borers, but is safe for the plant.

‘The Dahlia you brought to our isle

Your praises forever shall speak

‘Mid gardens as sweet as your smile

And colour as bright as your cheek.’

            Lord Holland (1773–1840)


Further information:

Dahlia diseases

Dahlia Care

Old School Gardener

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