Dahlias are impressive

  • Apr. 20, 2011 6:00 a.m.

Okanagan Gardens and Roses’ last meeting April 11 was a very good one. We were treated to an excellent show put on by one of our members who had spent some time in Peru and Bolivia. We were given a history lesson and a geography lesson showing some spectacular pictures of the home of the Incas. It was interesting to compare the difference with the way they garden and what we have to work with: what a contrast.

It is now time to start planning what we want to plant. There is an item that will do well in planters or flower beds, and is called osteospurmum. I like a white one with a blue centre. Osteos come in several colours: they are full sun or semi-shade, with no aphids or mildew.

If you are planning to plant any dahlias in your garden, you can plant the tubers now. They can be planted fairly deep: four inches or a little deeper, and they will not be above ground before all danger of frost is passed. It is a good idea to place a stake in the planting area.

Dahlias are affected very much by wind. Do not plant dahlias on the south side of a building as they do not enjoy hot sun: they should be planted where good air circulation is possible. Dahlias can produce huge flowers, and I actually saw a dahlia 15 inches in diameter. They are also available as small as two inches in diameter. They are available in a range of styles: formal, informal, cactus type and of course the miniatures.

Gladioli can be planted fairly soon and the weather should be warmed up by the time they are up.

When you plant dahlias and gladioli, mix a heaping tablespoon of bone meal in the area and mix it into the soil. It is not a bad idea to prepare a mix for the planting area of 40 to 50 per cent peat moss, 10 to 15 per cent sand, 30 to 35 per cent garden soil. A little well-rotted compost can be used as a cover to add plant food.

Very soon we will see the annual cut flower show. Irises are one of the best cut flowers in so many colours and sizes.

Fred Lyall is The Morning Star’s gardening columnist.