Praise for bloom that can grace a holy place

Dahlias
Dahlias

BRIAN KIDD: From pom poms to cactus, dahlias just keep on giving

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I had a lovely letter from Carol who lives at Fareham and wants to know which plant provides blooms all summer.

Carol and her friends arrange flowers at the church, funds are short but lovely people who want to get married at the church need a bit of help.

It’s great to hear from you and as you can see, I welcome any subject you would like me to write about.

Dahlias are the answer – the tubers are available at your garden centre.

Take your glasses to be sure the dahlia you like best is the right height, the heights are in centimetres.

It’s too early to plant dahlias outdoors so buy some tubers, check the height and plant the tubers in pots of potting compost in the greenhouse or on window shelves.

In a couple of weeks shoots will appear, it is easy to take cuttings from the shoots.

They can be planted into the garden after May 21. This date is very important – if you live in Portsmouth there may not be a frost but if you live ‘over the hill’, there could be frosts right up until May 21.

There is an old saying…count the number of fogs in March (we had two fogs at Waterlooville) and this will give you the number of frosts in May.

Another old saying is ‘when the hawthorn where you live has finished blooming, there won’t be another frost where you live’.

If you are wondering what hawthorn looks like, it is also called the bread and cheese plant. It is very thorny and grows all over Portsdown Hill.

I am mentioning this because Michael, who lives at Cowplain, and Felicity, who lives on top of Portsdown Hill, have asked me about frost dates!

But back to the dahlias...There are decorative, cactus types, giant blooms and pom pom types, which are very popular for arranging.

But my favourites are the water lily types. Look for the water lily bloom flower pictures on the front of the packets.

Dahlias flower from the end of June until the frosts arrive in November. They are lovely flowers to decorate a church for weddings and baptisms.

The last little tip, choose yellows and whites in areas of the church which are dark but add orange for a wonderful contrast.

But in the brightest areas in church use reds, oranges and yellows.

A glint of sunshine will brighten the arrangement and oddly enough the same applies out there in the garden.