Dahlia Society of Ohio Show and Competition 2006

Dahlia CompetitionToday I had the happy serendipity to come across the Dahlia Society of Ohio Show and Competition at the Petitti’s in Oakwood.

Now, two things come to my mind when I see the word Society linked with any species of plant or flower. Those two things are snobs and “better gardeners than I ever could be”. I am the first to admit that perhaps the first thought has more to do with the second thought than reality itself, but it still happens. But, the Dahlia Society of Ohio seems to be very aware of this attitude towards flower societies and their website assures me that “We are a very friendly and encouraging group”. Perhaps there is something more to these flower societies that a gardener’s version of a playground “My dad (flower) is better than yours” fight.

Snobs or no, one can’t deny that these people can grow flowers. One look at the long line of perfectly formed dahlia flowers was enough to make me feel very guilty about the dahlia I have growing in my yard right now that is currently laying face down in the dirt because I neglected to stake this year. These specimens on display were enough to remind me that proper care makes for a breath taking flower.

I spoke with Bob Wenning, an amateur novelty dahlia grower, who was also at Petitti’s to enjoy the dahlia show. It turns out that Mr. Wenning comes from a long line of dahlia growers. His father, uncle and his grandfather grew dahlias professionally for the wholesale market until 1958. Mr. Wenning fondly recalled running through huge fields of dahlias when he was a child and it is those memories that has put the love of the dahlia in his heart.

Dahlia Competition Top WinnersHe told me that “There is a satisfaction about growing dahlias. They are different from any other flower.”

Mr. Wenning also gave me some tips about growing dahlias. “75% of growing dahlias is good soil”, he said. He also said that plenty of water, good drainage and plenty of fertilizer are the keys to dahlias that look as beautiful as the ones that were on display.

A pamphlet from the Dahlia Society of Ohio also recommends a technique called “disbudding” to help encourage more and bigger blooms from a dahlia plant. Disbudding involves pinching off very specific areas of growth in order to encourage better and bigger blooms.

If you are interested, I took pictures of all of the first place flowers and you can view them here. They are quiet spectacular.

This also reminds me that I have to get out in the yard and dig up my dahlia tubers here soon. They are a pain to take care of, but as you can see from the pictures, they are well worth the extra effort they require.

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