Dahlia 'Brookside Cheri'
I have to admit that I've never been really keen on Dahlias, even if I sometimes admire them in other people's gardens. I've thought that their stems and leaves resemble too much potatoes and other nightshades, and that their often giant flowers, too heavy to carry their own weight, are a bit too over-bred and elaborate to be truly beautiful...
Dahlia 'Fire Magic' and 'Mingus Toni'.
Maybe as a person, I've just never been flamboyant enough to grow the large ones with their cactus-like blooms, nor sufficiently preppy for the small pompon-flowering ones. But it is difficult to ignore a flower that the late Christopher Lloyd, legendary plantsman and gardener, once mentioned as one of the eight (!) plants he would not want to live without on a desert island (in case you are curious, the other seven plants are Verbena bonariensis, Canna 'Wyoming', Hydrangea aspera Villosa group, Melianthus major, Aucuba crotonifolia, Anemone 'Honorine Jobert' and Crocus speciosus, of which I would probably choose at least the Melianthus, Hydrangea and Anemone...).
So I've been approaching them tentatively, observing them from all angles, occasionally stepping back a little, and then looking again. And I have a feeling that if I give them a bit more time, I just might have to try a couple of them, in case I manage to decide which ones to choose from the hundreds of different cultivars...**
My oldest daughter, Astrid, didn't have any difficulties in choosing her favorites amongst the hundreds of cultivars blooming in the Volunteer Park Dahlia garden in Seattle two days ago, where I took all photos above.