Dahlias talk by Nick Gilbert

On Thursday 16th March a large number of CHAPS members and their guests were treated to an amazingly informative talk on Dahlias by Nick Gilbert of Gilbert’s Nursery near Romsey.
Having been rather out of fashion (and still not to every gardener’s taste) dahlias are easy to grow – if greedy – and give a wonderful colour to the late summer garden. The dahlia is the national plant of Mexico and was introduced to this country in the early 1800s by a Swedish gentleman by the name of Andreas Dahl ( hence the name Dahlia). They were probably originally introduced as a source of food – the tubers being much like a potato – but as some were allowed to sprout and grow, and there were plenty of potatoes to eat, their value as a flowering plant developed.
Dahlias come in all shapes and sizes and in all colours except blue. We were advised that on our light sandy soil there is no need to lift tubers for the winter but just to make sure they are well covered with soil. Planting in large pots is a good idea as these can then be positioned in a bed for effect or to fill a gap.
Gilbert’s nursery grows some 400 varieties in 2 dahlia fields which are open to the public from mid-August, but the nursery also stocks a large selection of perennials, shrubs, climbers and trees and is open all year. There is an excellent looking tea-room and I, for one, feel an August visit coming on! Nick brought a wide selection of tubers for sale and many were bought by members. We hope to see an excellent display at our Autumn show in September.