dahlia monoculture fix?

Boyce Tankersley btankers@chicagobotanic.org
Mon, 22 Aug 2005 09:06:08 PDT
Hi Diane:

Idea 1. How about whimsical topiaries that can be moved into the site after the dahlias are dug. I don't know the severity of your winters but in Chicago our topiaries are covered with sheet moss, not living plants. They are also thematic and change over time. If you are lucky enough to have a milder climate than ours, you could plant the topiaries after they are set in place with live plants (pansies, ornamental cabbage/kale, Allyssum, primulas, etc. Of course you would HAVE to plant some Muscari, Scillas, etc. for a 'spring surprise'.

Idea 2. How about dyeing mulch different colors and creating a formal design in mulch similar to that employeed by some of the formal parterre gardens in Europe. They use color stones/glass which would not be compatible with the Dahlias the following season - but the mulch could be rototilled under. I don't know what kind of dye the local contractors use, but they dye their really poor quality mulch bright orange-red and sell it to unsuspecting homeowners at exceptionally high prices. Surely their are other colors.

Boyce Tankersley

-----Original Message-----
From: pbs-bounces@lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:pbs-bounces@lists.ibiblio.org]On Behalf Of Diane Whitehead
Sent: Saturday, August 20, 2005 7:08 PM
To: Pacific Bulb Society
Subject: [pbs] dahlia monoculture fix?

I'm on the board of a public garden that has a dahlia test garden run 
by a volunteer group.  Looks fine when the dahlias are blooming, but 
the rest of the year it's an eyesore.  We get a lot of visitors even 
in midwinter, so I'd like some ideas for what to grow the rest of the 

The club digs out their dahlias after frost, which doesn't leave much 
time for something to get going and be respectable in winter and 
spring.  I had thought of doing a "rice-straw revolution" sowing of 
something early in fall, but I'm sure the digging of the tubers would 
destroy most seedlings.

They come in again in mid-May, rototill and plant the new dahlias.

Our usual pbs suggestions of companion planting for bulbs is for 
bulbs that will remain in the garden, so perennials and small shrubs 
can be grown.  That won't work with dahlias, though.

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Diane Whitehead  Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
maritime zone 8
cool mediterranean climate (dry summer, rainy winter - 68 cm annually)
sandy soil
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