Dahlias, dahlias everywhere!

It didn't take me long to realise that I had all the inspiration I could possibly need at home.

After the rush to buy my Claude Monet’s Garden Silk Collection, I thought I had better speed up my plans for the next collection. I’m thrilled they have proved so popular. 

As I explained in a previous Jotting, I inherited over 1500 skeins of silk threads and have had simply the best time making up my ranges within the limits of the available colours. I am sure I will not be able to combine every colour into a well-known phrase or saying but, as I am happy to keep the threads for my own use, this is not a problem. Amongst other plans, I have a wooden casket that I am planning to cover with stitching, so I am choosing threads for this as well as for you.

My thoughts almost always turn to gardens and I have been lucky enough to visit some breath-taking examples around the world. However, it didn’t take me long to realise that I had all the inspiration I could possibly need at home. Here at Pinks Barn I am simply surrounded by dahlias. These flowers have come as a complete surprise to me – I had simply no idea how beautiful they can be and also how easy they are to grow.

My love affair with the dahlia started after Andrea Thompson took over The Cross Stitch Guild in January 2017. I imagined some sort of retirement, dreamed about a VW Camper van for a while (that is a whole other story), and eventually bought myself the greenhouse you can just about see through the flowers. You can read all about my greenhouse and the stitchers amongst you might like to see the model I made to stitch. 

Keen to fill my shiny new greenhouse, Jenny Dixon (our esteemed CSG Editor) and I had a working break away and went on a day course with gardening guru Sarah Raven. down in Sussex. I came away from the day agog with excitement and I spent an awful amount of money on dahlia tubers. I don’t need to tell you more, the pictures say it all.

I had understood that dahlias were hard to manage, so I had never attempted to grow any. After learning about them with Sarah Raven, I thought again. They are very sensitive to frost and will not survive a harsh winter unless they are protected, and we are in rather a frost pocket here in Gloucestershire. I grow the new tubers in pots in a frost-free greenhouse and then plant them out at the end of May. Those in the ground are either cut back and covered under mounds of thick mulch or lifted and dried out in the greenhouse until the cycle starts again.

I love how dahlias have come back into the spotlight with so many ‘designer’ versions that look good enough to eat. Talking of which, did you know that dahlia tubers were suggested as an alternative to potatoes during the potato famine? They originally come from Mexico (their national flower) and are now available in just about every shade but the elusive blue. I hope you approve of my new Dahlia Silk Collection and feel I’ve done the amazing colours justice with my choices. 

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