Why, why, why dahlia? Because they endure

A bed of dahlias will bloom from July until the first frost.
A bed of dahlias will bloom from July until the first frost.

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Suddenly the flowers on the hanging baskets and containers came to an end despite regular dead-heading. It happened so quickly it came as quite a surprise.

The nasty winds were responsible and we were getting fed up with continually sweeping up leaves and dead flowers.

However, I was particularly surprised to see the lobelia, nepeta and bidens were still looking nice and green.

There were lots of flowers on the bacopa, but nearly all the other annuals seemed to have been scorched by the wretched wind. As you know, I hate the wind.

But, as ever, we move on and look ahead to, we hope, another wonderful summer in 2015.

As you might also remember, I am a great supporter of dahlias because they flower from early July right up until the frosts arrive during autumn.

But some varieties of dahlia seem to be hardier than others.

To explain. If you left dahlias in the ground last winter and they grew again last spring, these seem to be hardy.

If you bought new varieties, they will have produced lovely tubers (swollen roots), but if left in the ground they may freeze during the winter and won’t grow again next year.

But we can save them.

Once there has been a hard frost where you live, cut the stems down to just four inches above the soil level.

Now cut up the old stems into short pieces and place them in the compost heap.

Dig out the tubers and wash off all the soil. Do this on a nice day.

Tie a label on to the stem. If you don’t remember the name, put the height and colour on the label.

Leave the tubers in the sun for a day and then put the tubers into peat or the compost from a growing bag used for tomatoes covering the tubers with two inches of compost.

If there any signs of brown or white downy mildew on the stems, puff on some sulphur powder. This will stop the fungus spreading.

The tubers are best kept in deep trays.

There are some used for marketing mushrooms and these can often be found at the market. Just ask the bloke if you can have some.

Keep the tubers in a frost-free place all winter and ensure the peat is kept dry.

At the end of February, sprinkle water on to the peat and as long as the weather is warm, new shoots will appear.

Brilliant! We are off to another great summer.

Dahlias are one of the best flowers for displays from early July right up until the autumn frosts appear.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Even if you don’t have a garden, narcissus bulbs can be planted in pots now. Pot them five in a 5in diameter pot. Moisten the compost and leave outside. They will flower in the early spring.