Welcome to ‘In A Vase On Monday’ when I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to share a vase of flowers picked from my garden every Monday.
I had to pick my flowers very early today, before the rapidly approaching storm hit. I was so early that I put together my vase before I had even had my breakfast, so today I am sharing not just a jug of Cafe Au Lait dahlias, but also the freshly laid boiled egg in my little Emma Bridgewater Buff Orpington egg cup that I had for my breakfast as the downpour started.
All this wet weather, together with dropping temperatures is bad news for my lovely dahlias, which tend to droop very sadly when battered by wind and rain. As I know that it is not long now before they will be blackened by the frost so bringing the Cutting Garden year to a close, I am madly cutting as many as I can whilst I still have an abundance of blooms to enjoy. Looking back at last year I can see from my blog posts that the dahlias lasted throughout October and well into November, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that this year will be as good. Even if the season is as long as last year the end of the Cutting Garden is in sight, so I need to make the most of it whilst the abundance lasts.
Today I wanted to take another look at the stunning dahlia Cafe Au Lait. This is my first year growing this variety and I only grew one plant as a trial, having heard reports of this being a difficult dahlia to grow. I have to say that my one plant has been very easy – a little late to start flowering compared to others in my garden, but once the buds started they have flowered beautifully and easily lasted 3-4 days in a vase.
Dahlias do not have a very long life in the vase and droop quickly if kept out of water. They are such productive plants, however, that you can regularly pick new blooms, refreshing your vase arrangements as individual flowers fade without depleting the look of the plant in the garden. The harder you pick, the more the dahlias respond by throwing up new buds. Dahlias should be picked just as the flower opens – dahlia buds do not flower once cut and if a bloom has been in flower for a few days or more when you cut it the petals around the edges will fade and drop very quickly.
Regular picking also has the advantage of stopping the plants from becoming leggy. I rarely stake my plants and instead encourage strong bushy growth by cutting back to a bud well below the flower I want to pick. Often the stems I cut will have unopened buds on them, which I leave if they are well placed and will add to an arrangement or remove if they will make the stem difficult to work with in a vase.
I added a few late scabious flowers and a sprig of achellia to this jug just to remind myself of summer!
Next year I am planning to grow a few more plants of Cafe Au Lait and I will order my dahlia tubers in January from my favourite supplier Rose Cottage Plants. Most dahlia tubers I just lay out in trays in the greenhouse in late April and water regularly before planting in the ground in early June. As Cafe Au Lait took a while to flower this year, however, I am going to start the tubers off in large pots in the greenhouse in March, so that they can be planted out in June as well developed plants. When ordering dahlias I tend to opt for colours that will work well with my interiors and this slightly coffee coloured creamy dahlia has worked perfectly with my largely cream painted kitchen and dining room.
I hope you have enjoyed taking another look at Cafe Au Lait today and that you will pop over to Cathy’s blog to see what she and the others have made this week. Last week I spent a very inspiring day in London on the Flowerona Social Media For Florists workshop and I will be writing about my day and sharing photos of the lovely styling of this event later this week. I also plan to be back with more about my different varieties of dahlia, if the rain stops for long enough to take some more photos this week!