Plants: Dahlias

As we settle into the heart of summer, the warmer months encourage a transition to plantings of vibrant colours. Coinciding with the beginning of the New Year, this is a time for reflection and rejuvenation. With this in mind and inspired by a recent pilgrimage to Claude Monet’s mesmerising garden at Giverny, we believe that this season should be an ode to the dahlia.

Originating from Mexico, dahlias were arguably one of the most fashionable flowers of Nineteenth Century Europe and were cultivated by Monet, whose love of this exotic species can be documented back to his time in Argenteuil, (Monet’s Garden in Argenteuil (Dahlias), 1873). Today what remains of his garden is a vision of living beauty and a delight of flowers, featuring varied blooms of the most amazing dahlias.

For those looking for dramatic spreads of colour in summer through to autumn, dahlias are the ideal addition. Significantly varying in form and size, they are divided into classes, each of which offers a full range of colours, heights and bloom types, from low growing border plants to stately plantings of soaring heights.

Novel varieties include cactus, pompon, star-shaped ‘Étoile digionaise dahlia’ or ‘Stella’, anemone, colarette and many decorative dahlia of descriptive names commonly used by nurseries.

As true horticultural artist, Monet, reminds us; the outdoor space should never be static, but rather an ever-changing response and a desire to alter texture and allure from one season to the next. With the varied vibrant blooms they provide, dahlias add a refreshing and joyous element to the landscape.