Most planners have a saying that goes: You are only as good as the vendors behind you”. Well us floral designers have a saying: “You are only as good as the blooms you get”. If the quality of a flower arrives in absolutely pristine condition it is easy to create a design that speaks for itself. But when blooms arrive looking a little beat up or just plain ol’ sad it’s hard to make something gorgeous out of them, especially when they are two breaths away from death.
Two years ago I was having that issue with dahlias. Dahlias are hard to grow, hard to transport and since they were high in demand a few of the usual suspects were incredibly hard to get. Especially those Cafe au Lait dahlias that everyone seems to love for their creamy with a blush undertone. Last year around mothers day I told myself I would try it, because what did I have to loose…. and this is a blog post about what happened.
I started as everyone else does…. with dahlia tubers which I ordered online and around late May when the tubers started sprouting. Trust me when I say this, I had no idea what was in store for me but all I had to lose was the time I spent planting them and $160 I spent on them.
Unless you don’t remember it was a hot summer, super duper hot. I probably watered these plants just about every other day in the summer and I did throw in a few prayers that my plants wouldn’t die on me. Maybe because I wanted to see them come to life after all the time spent on them. While my babies were growing I got to spend some time with my friend Holly Heider Chapple out in Virginia. During my time there he took me to see Don from Don’s Dahlias whom she purchases dahlias for her designs. Don knows his dahlias quite well and he thought me a few tricks to ensure my plants kept on thriving and continued providing blooms the entire season.
After two months of dragging hoses, pinching back plants, staking them, fighting weeds, praying that the hot weather would not absolutely fry the plants and a few spiders. They started to look like this.
They grew so much that I had close to 20 to 30 blooms every other week. Again that was from just 20 tubers that I planted. My goal was to get my plants going pretty strong for one wedding taking place late in September. If it didn’t work out… well then it didn’t work out and I could still order from my wholesaler. What I didn’t expect was the fact that my plants gave me so much back. So much…. that I was able to do this.
Do you see that dinner plate dahlia? It was the star of the bridal show. Other designers at the show wanted to ask were did I get them.
So you see them on the escort card table? Yep, we had them there too… and on this bride’s bouquet, and on the floral arrangements we placed on her chuppah.
We also put them in this huge arch for our bride at the South Shore Cultural Center, that arch looked divine in person.
They also made an appearance at these weddings and events!
And for good measure I grew some purple ones too because I knew I was going to use them.
So there you have it, my little secret is out. If you were my client last year (between late July to late October) and you had happened to have white, blush or purple dahlias in your designs summer chances are you had them at your event. I had a great time growing them (minus fighting the spiders!) and of course getting to use them in my designs. That’s as locally organic grown as we get around here!
We will be growing some other things next year….already on the ground more tulip bulbs than I can count, hellebores, peonies, freesias, clematis and will test out ranunculus, sweet peas, pieris japonica, mock orange, fox tail lilies (aka emerus), forsythia and hops vine along with what else… dahlias!
That is what I call… reaping what you sow. Literally!