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