DAHLIAS: BEAU­TI­FUL VA­RI­ETIES FOR HOME AND GAR­DEN by Naomi Slade Pho­to­graphs by Ge­or­gianna Lane

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Book Reviews -

A cel­e­bra­tion of a much-loved gar­den favourite, which in­cludes a gallery of blooms and of­fers a straight-for­ward approach to grow­ing them.

Re­viewer Tom Brown is head gar­dener at Parham House.

Beloved by flower ar­rangers and gar­den­ers, there is a dahlia to suit us all. En­thu­si­as­ti­cally, this book cov­ers how dahlias his­tor­i­cally tran­si­tioned from the Vic­to­ri­ans’ ob­ses­sion, through the less-favoured, more re­cent showman’s blooms, to the pop­u­lar­ity of the bronze-leaved and sin­gle dahlias of to­day.

The au­thor sim­pli­fies the mys­tique sur­round­ing clas­si­fi­ca­tion, beau­ti­fully il­lus­trat­ing the com­par­isons be­tween wa­ter lily, dec­o­ra­tive, col­larette types, among oth­ers, with the age-old prob­lem of the dif­fer­ence be­tween a spent bloom and an emerg­ing bud. Over­all it is a com­pre­hen­sive, quick-ref­er­ence guide to the some­times-be­wil­der­ing cul­ti­va­tion and clas­si­fi­ca­tion of these plants.

The au­thor of­fers sound ad­vice for those who are look­ing for dahlias to grow for the first time, how­ever, gar­den­ers who’ve grown them for many years might find the de­scrip­tions of the dif­fer­ent cul­ti­vars – and the way in which they are or­gan­ised – a lit­tle flow­ery and vague. For some, the head­ings of ‘fab­u­lous and funky’ and ‘dra­matic and dar­ing’ could lack author­ity. That said, we are in­for­ma­tively led through anatomy, clas­si­fi­ca­tion and web­sites of so­ci­eties of­fer­ing sources of in­for­ma­tion – tailed with sound ad­vice in grow­ing these plants well.

This is a vis­ually stun­ning book with su­perb pho­tog­ra­phy, which makes it a beau­ti­ful ex­pe­ri­ence to turn each page. If you con­sider your­self rea­son­ably com­pe­tent in dahlia grow­ing and are look­ing to in­crease your knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing of this genus, you may be left want­ing more. For begin­ners wish­ing to grow these mag­nif­i­cent plants for per­haps the first time, this book is a great in­tro­duc­tion to the genus.

Pav­il­ion, £25 ISBN 978-1911595250

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