Urban Garden Denver Blog

Flowers I love but don’t grow

Dahlias and gladioli (glads) are two amazing flowers that I don’t have in my garden. They are a bit too fussy for my style of garden effort, because the bulbs need to be lifted and given some special treatment to survive our winters. This extra work discourages me from experimenting with them, but I still love seeing them in bloom. There are some lovely dahlias a few blocks away and I try to make a point to watch for them this time of year.

A number of years ago, we took Grandma Foote to Buchart Gardens in Victoria, BC, and enjoyed the amazing colors, sizes and variety of dahlias. We also enjoyed taking her to Angel Crest Gardens near her home in Port Angeles, WA to see the dahlias blooming.

I did an experiment with dahlias a couple of years ago. I happened to be at a local nursery on the day of the dahlia society sale, and after talking with several dahlia devotees, they convinced me that it wasn’t that hard. I followed all the directions and started several bulbs in large pots. I moved the pots in and out of the garage, based on the crazy weather during a cool spring. Then later in the summer when the plants were tall, I staked them up so the flowers wouldn’t break the stems. Eventually after all the effort, I had 4-5 blossoms. They were beautiful, but I decided that I would enjoy dahlias in other people’s gardens, or from the farmer’s market, I needed simpler flowers in my garden.

Yesterday when I was grocery shopping the flower special of the day was 3 bunches of glads for $10. I splurged and got 3 bunches — they were very generous in the number of flowers, so it made two enormous bouquets. I had selected stalks that were tightly budded since I knew they would open quickly in our warm house. The flowers are beautiful! The long stems have a simple, artistic look. I have seen information about hardy glads to grow in this climate, so the bulbs don’t have to be lifted in the winter, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to try them. I probably have enough variety in my small yard for now. And I the rarity of glads makes a bouquet all the more enjoyable when they are in season.

So enjoy the dahlias and glads in the market, in neighbor’s yards, or in your own yard if you enjoy the effort. Meanwhile, it’s time to plan for fall bulbs (too early to plant though) so I’ll be writing about bulbs in the next installment.

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