dahlia fan club summer 2014

Dahlias I have spied this summer in friends’ gardens, botanic gardens and municipal plantings – Otaki, Paekakariki, Palmerston North….


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I was quite chuffed to snap a bee AND a butterfly together….

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This one – you will just have to believe me because there is nothing to indicate scale – was the summer-winner for gobsmackingly beautiful – in real life it GLOWED and it was as big as a dinner plate, no lies. (That’s why it’s almost on the ground – the plant could not support it’s heft.)




Dahlia Fan Club’s first blooms!

(A quick recap for the uninitiated.) The Dahlia Fan Club started as an online Pinterest board where my friend Emma and I post pictures of lush Dahlias….then we decided to take it offline into our backyards, and planted dahlias for this summer…

Well, I planted mine far too early – following the instructions on the packet and not realising that the baby plants were very frost tender. Fraser graciously shielded the fledgling plants with a frost cloth every cold night, so the blooms you are about to see are largely due to his efforts. Anyway, because we’ve had a warm, wet spring – I have flowers already! (They are supposed to bloom in ‘late summer’.)


Also, happily the dahlia Magnus chose which looked brown on the photograph of the packet, is actually a wonderful dark red. Yay! No poo-flowers!


I planted five, and two are still tiny stunted things, no sign of bloom….but three, funnily enough BOTH of the ones my children chose and one of the ones I chose, have really gone for it! The two that are still small are both ‘pom-pom’ varieties, so maybe they are slower growing than the ‘starburst’ flower shape?

The one Willoughby chose looks like this when it first unfurls:



…and then like this after about a week:


First Dahlia Fan Club SUCCESS. I can’t wait to see what my other two look like and to see Emma’s when they come up.  I positioned them around the outside of the chicken run, so that I can see them when I sit on the porch, which I do for a lot of the summer…and indeed, they are so bright the eye travels directly there!


Other posts relating to the Dahlia Fan Club, on here and on Emma’s blog:

The Dahlia Fan Club is born (Emma)

Dahlia Fan Club goes offline & some nice vintage Dahlia images

The Dahlia Fanclub goes offline

Emma buys her Dahlia Bulbs

I buy my Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlias at The Eden Project

Dahlia Cottage in Featherston

Canterbury Dahlias

Dahlias of Holloway Road

Emma and I take our first Dahlia Fan Club Field Trip, to the Victoria Esplanade iPalmerston North

I am officially a plant nerd.




Dahlia Fan Club, goes into the ground

I’ve planted my first Dahlias! I made a special new bed, just for bulbs and planted two dozen daffodil/earlicheer bulbs along the front of the bed, and dahlias through the centre. I didn’t bother photographing it at this stage, because it would be a photograph of some dirt with punga trunks around it….boring….but I will when things emerge.

Here is what greeted me when I went to the garden centre to look for dahlias. A dahlia bulb wall! So exciting.


Unfortunately, I had the kids with me and they said ‘Can we choose one?’

‘Sure’, I said, inwardly thinking ‘Noooooo! My colour scheme!’

I had planned a bright romp of pinks and oranges, but as it turned out – they chose OK. Not what I would have chosen, but okay…I’m not sure about M’s choice of BROWN (sigh)….but nor did I want to be a ‘Mommie Dearest’ kind of mother who says ‘Sure you can choose one, darling….NOOOO, NOT THAT ONE!!!!’


At $6 a pop, they cost a bit more than I had anticipated, so I am going to be on the look out for tuber-swaps next autumn.

So, anyway, as dahlias have names like roses, we have ‘Edinburgh’, ‘Sparkler’, ‘Nuit D’ete’, ‘Lucky Number’ and ‘Peaches’.

I chose the bottom row, Magnus chose the BROWN and Willoughby the orange. I am particularly excited to see ‘Edinburgh’ in bloom – I think it’s beautiful!


I hope hope hope they bloom big and busy and you can count on the fact there will be manifold photographs here if they do.



mycology walk

After I read that Emma had spotted an autumn toadstool on her walk, I had a yearning to go on a mushroom/toadstool hunt in the bush. So last Sunday I took my family out for a ramble around a bush track on the Woodville end of the Manawatu Gorge, looking out for autumnal fungi. I was not disappointed!



There were some wonderful red toadstools.

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Bright orange fungus:


Tiny ethereal mushrooms (hard to photograph! This one was not much bigger than a pea and I liked the way it was growing upwards towards the light from underneath a log.)




Warty armies of toadstools:

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Odd phallic looking ones with speckles:


I don’t know enough about wild mushrooms to know if any of these are edible, so I let them be and just took photographs.

After our walk, we stopped for a simple picnic of pikelets and feijoas.


Back home in the fridge was a package of field mushrooms my friend Nat had picked from her farm. I cooked them in garlic, onions and lots of green herbs, stirred in cream right at the end of cooking and ate it on pasta. Amazing.


And of course, I can’t go anywhere these days without spotting a dahlia:



dahlias of holloway road

I love the scrappy charm of Holloway Road in Aro Valley, Wellington. It has a long history – it’s one of the earliest settled streets of Wellington and it was a working class enclave from it’s beginning. The people with money settled in Karori and Thorndon, the workers settled in Holloway Road. I always try to make time for a walk along Holloway when I go to Wellington – I like to look at the ramshackle gardens and falling-down houses and then there is a gorgeous nature reserve at the end of the road, for that weird feeling of being in the wilds in the centre of the city.

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Last time I went, I found a few dahlias. The hot pink one was retina-searing bright, I spotted it from miles away.

The trees lean towards each other in the nature reserve, creating a natural archway. It’s very welcoming, like they are pulling you away from the concrete and back to the dirt.