You loved it, you decided you didn't love it

aachenelf z5 MplsAugust 18, 2013

and now you're back to giving it another look.

I used to have kind of an obsession with dahlias. Every year I would order a few more and the ones I had kept multiplying, so of course I had to find room to plant them. The collection kept growing, the number of plants kept growing along with all the work of staking and watering and fertilizing and then of course the digging and storing for the winter. Then it hit me, this isn't fun any longer. I composted the whole bunch and didn't give it a second thought. That was years ago.

Fast forward to this past spring. A visit to the garden center late in the season when they were practically giving away the bulbs and tubers. They looked terrible trying to grow in those plastic bags, but they were dirt cheap. I spotted a dahlia that looked kind of pretty. What the heck? I bought it and planted it. If it dies, I'm out about 2 bucks.

I'm now looking at this gorgeous - almost 6 footer with wonderful cactus flowers in a glowing shade of orange - perfect for this time of year. I think the bug has bit once again. I need a couple more next spring, but just a couple.


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karin_mt(4 MT)

Ha! I totally know what you mean. I am obsessed with tulips. But so are the deer. And early spring I am still skiing and am not uber-attentive with the garden as one needs to be when battling animal foes. So I am giving up tulips everywhere except right next to the house. Sad, but better than the continual heartbreak. Someday if we build a fence in the back garden, look out, I will be buying tulips by the thousand.

Here's what your yard will look like next year, after you get "just a couple" dahlias.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 1:44PM
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I do like dahlias, but I learned early on storing bulbs and tubers and corms - oh my - just wasn't worth any usually dismal resulting effort.

If I want glads or dahlias, I'll go to Menard's, Sam's Club, etc. and buy one of their "collection" offerings. Those have never failed me even on the cheap. When the first frost knocks them down, they go into the compost pile. The best of all possible worlds!

I did get some nice bagged peony roots from the orphan bin at Walmart a few years back. They took off like gang busters and bloomed the first season and have become very nice plants.

Do believe I'm finished with daylilies - the deer just love cropping off the buds so I rarely see a bloom even though I spray and cage.

Since I'm not into the rare, exotic, and expensive, editing out what disappoints for one reason or another is fairly easy.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 2:21PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

OMG that is wonderful! Don't do this to me!

Funny you mentioned tulips. I stopped planting them because of the squirrels chewing off the flowers just as they were opening. It just wasn't worth the aggravation any longer.

Then the fall catalogs started coming. In particular John Scheepers. I started to dream. I started working out various color combos of tulips. I was making my lists. I was about to order.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I finally got around to moving a whole bunch of bulbs from my parents house to my garden (I mentioned this in another post). I probably dug around 60-70 daffs plus a whole bunch of minor bulbs.

Then I had to plant them. OMG, I hate planting spring bulbs. I just hate it, but I did discover a post hole digger is a great tool for this. I tore up my lists.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 2:21PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I havenâÂÂt really had a collection that I got tired of yet. But I do know what you mean. I used to do a lot of containers every year with annuals and perennials in them and then they would get a little boring and IâÂÂd want more exotics like Caladiums that cost a bit more, so IâÂÂd not want to waste them and try to over winter them, even though I know I donâÂÂt have a good place to do that. So it all got to be more work than it was worth. IâÂÂd be digging out plants and potting some of them up to bring them indoors for the winter and then theyâÂÂd have to be carefully inspected for any hitchhikers. Some of the containers I liked were ceramic and heavy and theyâÂÂd have to be dragged down to the basement for the winter. IâÂÂd get them through January and February only to lose most of them in March when IâÂÂd get so busy with the outdoor garden, I wouldnâÂÂt keep up with them well enough. And then start all over again in the spring, with the expense of new potting soil. So I took about three years off and had one or two containers and that was it. This year I had the bug and suddenly wanted containers again and had 8 large ones, but with vegetables this time.

ThatâÂÂs funny about the spring bulbs, Kevin. I just had a shopping cart at John Scheepers and did the same thing. I didnâÂÂt have the experience of moving bulbs, but I do hate digging bulbs in my soil that is a little on the heavy side and I kept thinking about the 500 bulbs I was going to order and now IâÂÂm back down under a 100.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 3:07PM
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MaeT(z5 NL, Canada)

Kevin I could have written that post word for word only my obsession was tuberous Begonias.They are so beautiful but I just got tired of all the work with them. I dug them up in the fall and threw them all in the compost bin.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 3:10PM
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I never got that into dahlias once I discovered how much work they were. Same thing with cannas, caladiums & other tuberous perennials that couldn't survive winter right where they were planted, be it container or garden bed. I've recently adopted a 'plant it and forget it' philosophy about gardening and must confess I much prefer my gardens now that I've stopped fussing, interfering & thinking I'm in charge. I let them do their thing these days and content myself with how they look so long as they produce season-long color & interest and meet the needs of the pollinators.

That said, I still buy pansies early in the season to plant in containers near the front door. They're such a welcome, cheerful sight as the snow begins to melt + it feels good to get my hands in the dirt after the winter's cold.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 7:25PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I'm going to try taking a big step here and try to post a phone picture. Apparently others can do it, so surely I'm not that big of an idiot that it's beyond me!? Lol- please don't get into that discussion!
I caught the dahlia bug again last winter. The tulip bug is still active, but after digging about 500 bulbs this summer and then having them all rot due to damp.... The fever has cooled a little.
phlox and obscure seed grown plants are becoming a new obsession.
Hopefully a picture of some dahlias cut this morning will follow...
Or not. Please withhold idiot judgements

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 1:13PM
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Campanula UK Z8

for those who hate planting bulbs - you really need the right tool for the job and a partner in crime. Using a good long-handled (essential) bulb-planter with a flange for pressing your foot on, and someone to hand you the bulbs, move the plugs of soil out of the way and generally work on the ground while you work the planter, it is possible to do 4 bulbs a minute. My eldest son and I plan on doing 2000 narcissi over 2 days.

As for whims, fads and crazes - I cycle through these too fast to keep track, sweeping from intense hate to swooning admiration at the drop of a hat - although in many ways, I am going back to my earliest roots of sowing from seed. I first started gardening using many cheap annual seeds, often free with magazines. After spending too much time and money pursuing various themes, styles, fads, fashions, even whole philosophies, I have gone right back to basics - if I cannot grow it myself, from either seeds or cuttings, I am probably not going to have it.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 5:00PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

That's a LOT of bulbs, campanula! I haven't tried the long handled bulb planter. How deep will it go into the soil? We tried one of those drill attachments and didn't find it worked well and we gave up on it. My soil is on the heavy side.

I was thinking about this topic in the garden yesterday and the fact that the garden changes so quickly, I think that has an influence on how much we like something at the moment. When a border or a section of it hits it's stride, that fresh and exuberant vision of everything looking right together and healthy and bursting with blooms really is fleeting. In just a couple of weeks, one or more of the plants are starting to slow down or end their bloom cycle. Something else may start blooming and change the look of it. Even from season to season, how long does a border or plant stay the same. The weather or the critters or the fact some plants become older and produce less bloom needing to be divided. I have to remind myself that the garden is a living thing that has a mind of it's own, that we are attempting to steer in the direction of our own vision for it. I think that makes it quite a task, but also what keeps it interesting.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 5:10AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

kato - I want the dahlia porn! I need pics!

Yes, I'm loving my 1 lone dahlia more every day, but I still don't expect to go crazy next spring. I can't. I'm too aware of my lack of space. Just how on earth could this huge plant grow from 1 sickly looking tuber in a few short months? Amazing.

campanula - I'm sure you're correct about the need for a proper tool for planting bulbs. The post hole digger did a pretty good job and was definitely an improvement over trying to dig a whole bunch of holes with a crappy garden trowel like I've done in past years. That can kill your hands and turn one off completely to the notion of spring bulbs. 2000 bulbs?Really? Even with the proper tool, that makes my head hurt.

prairiemoon - You're absolutely correct about not getting fixated on one plant in a particular season. It really is about balancing the whole season.

I remember when my first (and only) tree peony bloomed for the first time. I was awestruck and immediately thought about ordering many, many more of these. Luckily I resisted mainly because of the price and am oh-so happy I did resist. Yes, they are gorgeous, but they get so large and in reality, around here at least, you're lucky if the flowers last a week - sometimes only a few days if we have a surge of heat.

Still, I don't really regret any of my past obsessions. I learned a lot and in the process I kind of figured out what I want from my garden and how much time, energy and $$ I'm willing to commit to the whole endeavor. Because I think I'm a bit saner and more realistic than I was a number of years ago, I think revisiting some of these past obsessions should be safe.

During the same trip to the garden center that brought this dahlia into my life, I also picked up a coleus. I once had an obsession with these too and went through the seasonal ritual of taking cutting and growing them through the winter and all that. I think I grew something like 60 or 70 each year. Again, one year I just said enough is enough and didn't take the cuttings. It's been years since I've had a coleus.

Now that I've once again seen how nice these can be I had a momentary notion of taking a few cutting this fall. Nope. I don't want to do that again.I don't want to junk-up my house this winter with a bunch of plants and I certainly don't want to get back into light gardening. I'll buy some new plants next spring, but just a few.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 12:46PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Kevin, I understand that intense interest in something that you become just immersed. (g) IâÂÂve done some of that too, and it is true that you learn an awful lot in the process about what you like, what you need, what your limits are, and some first hand knowledge about different plant materials. I planted a lot of âÂÂoneâ of a lot of things to see if I liked it and if it fit into my plans and my conditions. I did the same thing with regular peonies. LOVE the blossoms, just canâÂÂt live with that âÂÂweekâ of bloom, sometimes less if it rains, then nothing the other 51 weeks of the year. If I had a huge property, IâÂÂd have room to leave them somewhere and forget them, but I donâÂÂt.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 1:50PM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

Kevin, I like what you say about not regretting past obsessions. Really, there is not much that is more fun than throwing your heart and soul into something you're excited about. We garden addicts are lucky people because all these little things bring us joy.

So, with that in mind I will introduce another idea for the Garden Obsessed. If you break into a cold sweat over dahlias, consider traveling to the unbelievable dahlia display in Germany. They have 1800 varieties and maybe 100 or so of each kind. Wait for it... do the math... that is a LOT of dahlias! Every one impeccably grown of course.

The best part is that you get to vote for the Dahila Queen. Because you only get one vote, it really makes you evaluate them carefully. We probably spent 2 hours deciding who to vote for. This display is at the Mainau garden in southern Germany. The dahlias are just one part of this huge public garden.

And if you fall asleep dreaming about tulips, then add a trip to the Netherlands to your bucket list. It's such a happy experience to be among millions of your favorite flowers!

These are alternate ways to exercise your plant obsessions without digging any holes in your beds.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 2:22PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Not only am I liking the dahlias (a lot) I'm also looking at the coleus and other annuals and wondering how hard it really would be to bring a couple in under lights.....

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 9:52AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

Nice kato! I like the dark burgundy one. They really are useful if you like to end the season with a huge bust of color.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 10:23AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I love that dark burgundy one too! Which variety is that and is it a tall Dahlia?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 11:35AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

The burgundy one is also my favorite, in person it's actually more of a plum color which makes sense since the name is 'plum pretty'. The plant is about three feet tall, it looks great in the garden, and has many more blooms on the way. If there's a complaint it's the short cutting stems, you just have to suck it up and cut a buch of side shoots if it's long stems you want.
You're right about the season going out with a bang, these do well in late summer and really take off when the nights get cooler.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 12:02PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I just got over tulips. After a couple years of growing hundreds I think I'm done this fall. I've been looking at the bulb catalogs and am totally untempted.
I'll probably miss them come springtime, but there are enough that should come back, I think I'll be ok.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 7:02PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

I think I'm over tulips too. All summer I was looking at the catalogs - planning, thinking, putting together lists and then it just hit me - too much work planting, the squirrels will get them anyway, hate the foliage, hate the space they take up, too short a bloom season. I'll just buy bouquets of them at the grocery store.

I really don't need a lot of spring color. Small patches of whatever or a few blooming whatevers is enough for me. Now fall is another story. I just can't get enough of fall blooming plants.

And in another 10 years, I'll probably be planting tulips by the bushel.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 7:55PM
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Love the colours above.

I tend to just go with what work here; for me, within a perennial garden, for sunny locations which are too small for colour to be maintained by perennials, I've used small and medium sized dahlias and geraniums (pelargoniums), purchased each spring and planted after the bulbs are finished.

If there's enough perennial variety (colour) in the overall garden, the annuals are just useful fillers. With a sprinkler system, deadheading carries the contribution of the annuals throughout the growing season.

Why get fed up with that?

Below September 9, 2013:

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 11:21PM
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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

I'm still having a love/not so much relationship with daylilies. A visit to the daylily forums always sucks me back in! This fall I am going to try spreading them out among the other garden plants to see if that works better. I want to do something different with that prominent, mostly daylily-filled bed.

Angelonea: I'm not a huge fan of the flowers, and they cost a lot when they are not available in 6-pac. Some didn't thrive. But then, just a few of them grew really well and are still blooming after months of show. So, do I grow them again or forget it? I can't decide!

Anigozanthos/Kangaroo Paw: 1st year they sit there. ok. Year #2 they throw up a few flower stalks. Not bad. Year #3 they put on an amazing show that lasts for months and thrills the hummingbirds. Fabulous/show stopping! They don't return for year 4.
To make them work in the garden, I have to add some new plants every year. Sometimes I discover well after the fact that the tags have been switched. The cultivars I like are vastly outnumbered by the ones that hold no interest. Whether 'paws are in favor depends upon if I won that year's expensive gamble.

Dahlias. Hmmm I haven't grown them since we lived in the snail/slug house. ;-) I have been thinking about planting a few here...those photos makes me want to even more.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 2:24PM
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