Free Dahlias! (if you move in the right circles)
Catalogs and garden centers sell you dahlias in the spring, at planting time. Friends and neighbors give you dahlias in the fall, at dig-up-the-tubers time.
This dahlia surely has an official name (might be ‘Mary Eveline’), but as far as I’m concerned it’s ‘Carol’s Wine,’ because my dear friend Carol gave me the start tubers now many years ago.
Like potatoes, dahlias multiply. First one tuber becomes two or three, which is nice. Next spring you can plant them all together and get a big fat bush. By fall the bush has made seven or eight. Not so convenient but still ok; dahlias are easy to divide and there’s usually room for another plant.
You see where this is going. Even people with plenty of cool dry storage room eventually cry uncle. Shortly after I first came to Maine, I saw a wheelbarrow full of tubers with a “FREE!” sign prominently displayed. It happens to us all.
The yellow ones are ‘Honka.’ All the others came in a single packet of ‘Bishop’s Children’ seed. Good name for the offspring of ‘Bishop of Llandaff,’ an heirloom with dark purple green foliage and bright orange red flowers.
Not all of the first year plants made tubers, and the ones that did have been slow growers that took a while to start creating problems. But last fall we had more than 20 tubers of the dark red one with the black center, and Kristi made me give most of them away.