UPDATE -NDC Dahlia Cuttings 62.5% success rate

You may remember back in June how excited I was when my 24 new Dahlia Cuttings arrived from the National Dahlia Collection (NDC) in Penzance, UK:

https://wordpress.com/post/stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/1061

I was reluctant ast first to buy more Dahlia cuttings from NDC as back in 2015 I had problems with a number of cuttings from NDC (see previous blog post). I was hesitant to buy from them again, but last year I gave in and placed another order, as I struggled to find other alternative suppliers in the UK with as much variety.

So this year, I was really vigilant and made sure I gave the Dahlias the best possible start and regularly fertilised and watered throughout the growing season. However I only had a 62.5% success rate with 15/24 growing correctly. The problems I had are as follows:

Wrong dahlia cutting sent (x4):  Picture on the left is what it should look like, picture on the right is what I was actually sent.

  • Tartan – no white stripes, this actually looks more like a ‘Thomas Eddison Dahlia’

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  • Karma Fusciana – single dahlia instead

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  • Oakwood Naranga – right colour, completely different shape

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  • Dr John Grainger – right colour, completely different shape

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Diseased Dahlia’s x2 – i.e. didn’t flower and Crown/Leaf Gall found when tuber dug up: 

  • Black Narcissus
  • Clara May

Crown Gall is a bacterial disease that causes large abnormal growths at the base of the infected plant or the top of one or more tubers as shown in the picture below. The plants are stunted and the shoots spindly. Since there is no effective treatment, infected plants and tubers should be destroyed. I think the source of the bacteria is unlikely to reside in my garden as the area the dahlias are being grown is was turfed up until 18 months ago ago when we moved in. Turfing is one of the recommended ways of getting rid of the bacteria if its a problem where you live, so I am doubtful it was already in my garden. It is also VERY common in Dahlias, so I can only suspect the Mother stock was infected and passed to the cuttings. Though you can never be sure with bacteria and virus diseases.

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Dahlia’s which didn’t grow x3  – i.e. cutting wilted and died, no tuber: 

  • Wooton Phoebe
  • Pearsons Ben
  • Lupin Dixie

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15x Dahlias that grew well

The remaining 15 Dahlias grew well as you can see from the catalogue photo (top) versus the photo I took (Bottom). The red dahlias in particular did very well.

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dahlia-progress-2016b

I’m not convinced the Dahlia ‘Promise’ has the same leaf shape, but at least it grew well and was the same colour. Tohsuikyou, flowered well, however the flower heads were too heavy for the stems and consequently the flowers were often drooped over.

dahlia-progress-2016a

Nuit de ete didn’t grow well, it only flowered once briefly, so I’m hoping it comes back next year and performs better. Je-Maintendrai was a huge dinner plate dahlia, gorgeous but difficult to stake. Zurichlooked nothing like i expected and never did develop the deep orange colour shown on the NDC website. Rossendale Luke and Barbarry dominion were both stunning.

In summary I had a 62.5% success rate. I have read that its normal to lose some dahlias each year, but it’s difficult to know what percentage is normal. I had similar problems in previous years with both Taylors Bulbs and the National Dahlia collection (NDC) sending different coloured dahlias to the ones intended. I have contacted the NDC and they have agreed to investigate and replace the 4 dahlias which were the wrong colour.

In the meantime I have placed a new Dahlia order with ‘Eurodahlia’ and I will report back next year 🙂

Dahlias are worth growing though – when they are in full bloom – like my garden here – they look magnificent:

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24 New Dahlia cuttings (NDC) – planting on

Yay! my 24 New dahlia Cuttings arrived!

You may remember I got a tad excited on a wet grey miserable gloomy November day last year and ordered 24 new Dahlias from the National Dahlia Collection…when I wasn’t even sure I had room for them in the new garden!:

https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2016/03/04/looking-forward-to-dahlia-season/

Well they arrived and I unpacked them with eager anticipation! I’m not sure why as I knew they would look like 24 identical green cuttings and there would be no inkling of their future colour….but for some reason I still got excited at the prospect of new Dahlia flowers!

They arrived in small flat cardboard boxes each individually labelled with a number on a white label.

The cuttings are all different sizes so I identified the smallest 10 cuttings and placed these in smaller pots in prime position on the kitchen window sill where I could monitor these and the other 14 I placed near my patio doors in trays.

Firstly I printed off colour labels for each plant and geekily laminated these labels for the garden. I bought  some white label holders from B&Q and these come in packs of 10 for around £2.50 I think? These are OK, but the labels do fall out….I think they are good whilst the plants are in pots, but once they have been moved outside its better to tie the laminated labels onto the actual plant supports to stop them going missing! So  hole-punched the labels as well so these could be tied onto the plant supports.

I also purchased 2 new trays and 1 pack of capillary matting sheets from B&Q which contained 5 sheets. I used 2.5 sheets per tray which fitted perfectly and used these to place the individual pots into whilst they are growing indoors. I wanted to maintain some moisture and stop the cuttings drying out, whilst preventing the pots leaking all over my floor!

I think this system worked quite well on a small scale, but its certainly not perfect as the pots do move around when you pick up or move the trays, so there is room to experiment again next year!

I have been growing dahlias for a few years now, but this is only the second summer of having a proper garden as before I was constrained to a concrete yard with pots. Now I have 2 fairly large flowers beds that I have created especially for Dahlia heaven! So every year my techniques evolve and change as I experiment with different methodologies. So my way of doing things isn’t necessarily right, its just me trying to improve my success with growing dahlias. In previous years I’ve been guilty of starting dahlias off inside too soon and they become tall and spindly and leggy, so this year I didn’t start my dahlias until late April and it seems to have worked much better.

After a month or more inside, I planted the cuttings outside at the end of May, beginning of June, when all risk of frost in the Northwest of England, UK had passed. These have all been outside for 2 weeks now, so I will write you an update of their progress very soon!

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If you have any hints or tips for growing dahlias please let me know 🙂

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Garden Hand Tools Product Review Part 4: Hand Dibber & Widget

As promised in my previous post: https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/my-gardening-hand-tools/ here I am going to review the garden hand Widger and Hand Dibber.

  1. Burgon & Ball Hand Widger
  2. Spear & Jackson Dibber

The Burgon & Ball (B&B) Widger  is endorsed by the RHS and measures Max width 3cm, overall length 33cm with an RRP of £9.95. B&B describe the product as a cross between a trowel and a dibber, this unique little tool will help in levering plants out of pots as well as planting seeds and seedlings.

The Spear and Jackson (S&J) Dibber has an RRP of £7.99 and a Handle size 5″. Spear & Jacksons website don’t provide a description for its use but a general Google search for Dibber states the following “A dibber is a gardening tool used to make bulb and seed planting effortless. You use a dibber to make holes in the soil. The result is consistent hole for seedlings, all at the same depth. It’s far better to use when planting stem or room cuttings, as you don’t damage the plant through forcing it into the ground.

I think these 2 products have a similar use, but I prefer the Widger as I feel as it has multiple uses.

After moving into my new house and garden, I accidentally dug up thousands of bluebells and daffodils, every time I dug a patch in the garden I would find loads of bulbs or pebbles in the sandy soil. I decided to naively just replant these bluebells in a range of places all over the garden in rows using the S&J dibber as I don’t like wasting plants and couldn’t face binning them. The tool was fantastic at making single deep holes in the poor soil without the hillside falling apart….however months later I would come to regret using the dibber tool to replant all those bluebells. Firstly I discovered most bulbs such as bluebells don’t look great in rows, they look better in clumps or bunches, secondly getting them back out after planting them with a dibber is near impossible! Of course that is no reflection on the tool….just think twice where you  decide to plant those bulbs in case you change your mind! I’m certainly wishing I hadn’t got carried away with tool and planted those bluebells everywhere!

I purchased the Burgon and Ball Widger after discovering it accidentally whilst browsing for other hand tools from B&B and thought it looked a rather intriguing tool! I liked the fact it could be used for planting seedlings. I always found it difficult to plant on seedlings from those black plastic multi-hole seedling trays. This widger tool does help get the seedlings out and more importantly helps replant the seedlings individually without damaging the long spindly root systems. It hasn’t perfected my seedling methodology, but it has helped and I probably still need to carry on experiementing with the tool to find its perfect use! what do you use yours for?

Over all the Burgon and Ball tools look well made and I am looking forward to purchasing more tools from their range as they seem to provide some niche quirky garden additions that other companies don’t.

Overall I found both the S&J Dibber and the B&B Widger handy, but I thought the B&B Widger had more uses and potential and is better made.

Next time I will be reviewing the last and final set of hand tools:

5.Part 5 Hand Fork and hand Trowels.

Garden Hand Tools Product Review Part 3 Hand shrub rake

As promised in my previous post: https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/my-gardening-hand-tools/ here I am going to review the garden hand Shrub Rake.

I have only one tool of this type from Burgon & Ball.

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The product is endorsed by the RHS and measures Max width 13cm, overall length 40cm with an RRP of £9.95.

Burgon & Ball recommend the product is used to remove the leaves and debris from places a big rake can’t get, so snails don’t have a place to hide.

This is the only product of this type and size I have in my garden tool collection and so far I have found it very handy. Of course I have full size larger rakes, but this is perfect for working on flower beds in any smaller areas of the garden. I have so far used it to clean the soil of my new flower beds, for instance I have recently planted a bed of shrub roses and Allium and this is perfect for getting in between the plants without damaging them and removing any unwanted debris and leaves. I have similarly just planted my dahlias and again it is perfect for getting under the foliage of the dahlias and keeping the flower beds clear. In the sloping sandy area of my garden, it is full of small stones and debris which constantly becomes unearthed after raining, again I have found this hand rake useful for tidying these areas which are in progress.

This is one of two items I have bought from Burgon and Ball as I have also brought the Widger hand tool from them, which I will be reviewing in a later post.

The product is well made and it looks like this company has a range of very interesting and innovative gardening tools, which I’m always on the lookout for, so I will be browsing their website for more products very soon!

The only tiny downside which is not a reflection on the product itself, is it doesn’t easily fit in my gardening tool box! However as soon as I have my new shed I will probably ditch the tool box and hang the tools up individually 😀

 Next time I will be reviewing the following:

4. Part 4 Hand dibber & Widget

5.Part 5 Hand Fork and hand Trowels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Hand Tools Product Review Part 2 Hand Patio weeder/ scrapers

As promised in my previous post: https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/my-gardening-hand-tools/ here I am going to review the garden hand Patio Scrapers and weeders

Since moving into my house less than a year ago I have bought 2 Hand Scrapers or weeders as follows:

  1. Wolf Garten Scraper (Jul 2015) £6.82
  2. Moulton Mill Stainless Steel Weed Knife (Sep 2015) £7.99

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These Hand Scrapers cost less than £10. These tools are marketed for removing weeds and moss from between pavings. I have used both for this purpose plus I also regular use both for other random tough weeding tasks around the garden.

 

  • Wolf Garten Scraper (Jul 2015) £6.82

315922_Scraper

I found these scraper/weeder tools very useful, not just for cleaning patio stones, but also for other jobs around the garden, such as trying to dig out the soil around densely clumped bramble roots! This Wolf Garten tool was invaluable and the first time I had ever used a tool of this type, but as you can see from the photos, in less than one year the tool is very blunt and not very effective, and as I have previously said, I am not a fan of the design of the Wolf Garten hand tools ridged end which ends up full of soil, plus the tools seem to tarnish. However I do like the bright red/yellow design of their tools which make them easier to find 😀

 

  • Moulton Mill Stainless Steel Weed Knife (Sep 2015) £7.99

moulton-mill-weed-knife_l.jpg

Once The Wolf Garten Scraper started to become blunt after a month or two I bought a new Scraper from my local garden centre – this time from Woulton Mill. This tool was much sharper, I think I may have even nicked my finger, so do be careful when using this tool. However I loved this tool and wouldn’t be without it. I preferred it to the Wolf Garten scraper as its a simpler design so easier to keep clean and its much more sharper and effective. However even this tool has become blunt in less than a year – but that probably has a lot to do with my extreme garden which WAS full of brambles, pebbles, sand, concrete..after nearly a year or extreme gardening I feel I am finally taming the garden!

So in summary I would recommend a Patio weeder scraper, and remember you don’t have to confine their use to just their intended use, as they have been invaluable for a whole host of other gardening jobs including digging up the dreaded brambles! I am due for a new sharper model so will be purchasing another new model soon, so watch out for new reviews.

See my previous review on Hand Garden Hoe’s here:

https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/garden-hand-tools-product-review-part-1-hand-hoes/

Next time I will be reviewing the following:

3. Part 3 Hand shrub rake

4. Part 4 Hand dibber & Widget

5.Part 5 Hand Fork and hand Trowels

6. Part 6: Hand Secateurs and hand Cutting tools

Garden Hand Tools product review Part 1: Hand Hoe’s

As promised in my last post: https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/my-gardening-hand-tools/ here I am going to review the garden hand Hoe’s.

Since moving into my house less than a year ago I have bought 3 Hand Hoe’s as follows:

  1. Faithfull Faichhoe Cultivator (May 2015)
  2. Wolf Garten Double Hoe (Jul 2015)
  3. Bahco Garden Hoe (Sep 2015)

Part 1c

All of these Hoes/cultivators cost less than £10. These all have a sharp edge which is great for cutting through tough soil which hasn’t been touched for years. For instance if your turning soil up in a confined area near a tree or fence, where you are unable to use a large garden folk or spade, then these little hand Hoe’s are invaluable.

  1. Faithfull Faichhoe Cultivator (May 2015)

Faithfull Faichhoe Cultivator

The Faithfull Faichhoe Cultivator was the first item of this type I purchased and I loved using this tool as it made breaking up the hard soil so much easier than trying to use a hand trowel. However, I think the hard stone ridden soil was too much for the Faithfull tool and it subsequently bent and distorted and I binned it after a few months as it was no longer very effective. Sorry I never took a picture before binning it!

2. Wolf Garten Double Hoe (Jul 2015)

315921_WolfGarten Double Hoe

The Wolf Garten Double Hoe was the second tool of this type I purchased.Again it performed excellent when I first purchased the tool, but again after a few months use it has bent out of shape, rusted and the sharp edge is pretty blunt and warped after hitting one too many stones and bramble roots. I think this tool would perform great on previously prepared garden beds, but they have struggled to withstand the test of time on my old neglected garden. They have aided me immensely in digging up Bramble roots though and would recommend these types of tools to other gardeners or allotment gardeners …however I don’t think the wolf garten is the strongest for tough plots. One big dislike is the ridged end of the hand…as a gardener I think this is a bad design as soil gets wedged into the handle grooves making it difficult to keep it clean.

3. Bahco Garden Hoe (Sep 2015)

Bahco Garden Hoe

The third and last tool of this type I bought was the Bahco, this is my first and only tool purchased from this French company. I had never heard of the company, but bought the tool as it looked tough and I thought it might perform better than the previous 2 Hoe’s. When it arrived my Husband told me Bahco was a famous power-tool manufacturer, so that was reassuring and I had high hopes for this tool. Unlike the previous 2 tools I have reviewed, this was only a single hoe, however the steel/metal does feel thicker and sturdier and less likely to bend.So far the tool has performed well. The edge isn’t has sharp as it was, again it has been used on my tough garden. however it has shown no signs of bending or rusting so I am pleased with this product and would buy other Bahco products again. I have seen some other interesting Hoe designs they do and would be interested in trying these out.

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Look out for my next review on hand tools – coming soon!

My gardening hand tools

I bought my new house with garden last May/June 2015 and bought a huge selection of tools from a range of famous gardening brands. I did some research and bought the larger items mainly from Bulldog and Chillington.  However I couldn’t really see a big difference between the hand tools so bought these from a range of companies. 1 year on I have binned a number of items which have been damaged or broke, accidentally put some in the green bin and then these are what I have left below, so I thought I would review the performance of these tools over the last year since I bought the house and garden.

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Hand tools

I should state that the garden hadn’t been touched for 20 years and different parts of the garden have different soil types, some parts are sandy, some are hard clay and others are normal. The area had previously been used to mine sand, so obviously the garden is very sandy and has a ridiculous number or pebbles everywhere, so everytime I dig I always hit a pebble or two! The garden also contained a lot of buried concrete and rubble! An annoying amount. In addition the garden was completely overtaken by brambles, I must of progressively dug up over 200 brambles root balls and filled a skip and made endless trips to the tip….so as you can imagine my hand tools have been put through a lot! They have either hit pebbles, concrete or thick tough bramble root balls! Hence some of the tools haven’t withstood the test of time. I have dug up bin fulls of pebbles and boulders that I have now decided to make a dry river in order to use them and make a feature out of them 😀

Over the next few weeks I will be doing an in depth reviews of the different gardening tools as follows, so watch this space:

1. Part 1 Hand Garden Hoes

2. Part 2 Hand Patio weeder/ scrapers

3. Part 3 Hand shrub rake

4. Part 4 Hand dibber & Widget

5.Part 5 Hand Fork and hand Trowels

6. Part 6: Hand Secateurs and hand Cutting tools

 

 

An obsession with Colour & Beauty