dahlia fan club summer 2014

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

LET THE EYE-ORGY BEGIN:

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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.)

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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’.)

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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!

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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:

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…and then like this after about a week:

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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!

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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.

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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!!!!’

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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!

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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!

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There were some wonderful red toadstools.

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Bright orange fungus:

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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.)

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Warty armies of toadstools:

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Odd phallic looking ones with speckles:

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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