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Friday, September 11, 2009


This week I took a two day Horticulture course given by the Federated Garden Clubs of New York State. A number of different speakers were brought in to give us informative programs on various types of horticulture. There was such a broad spectrum of topics that any gardener would have found something of interest here.

Our first teacher was Steve Nowotarski and the topic was Dahlias. Steve and I have crossed paths many times over the past years, mostly at flower shows and various garden club meetings. We have a good enough relationship that we can tease each other constantly about the pluses/minuses of Dahlia collection vs Daylily collecting. As an afterthought I realize we probably confuse the heck out of the people who don't know what we are talking about :-)

While I'm not going to go into the various different forms and terminology we learned about Dahlias, I am going to post a few photos that I took after the class. Steve told us about one of the Dahlia trial gardens on Long Island at Eisenhower Park. Three fellow students and I decided to go there after yesterday's final exam and see the plant material up close.

There were Dahlias in a multitude of forms, sizes and colors to see. This time of year they are reaching their peak. I highly recommend that you search online and see if there is a trial garden near you.

The bloom colors were so beautiful, I only wish the foliage had a little less mildew. Unfortunately, this summer has been brutal on our plants with unusually cool temperatures, extreme water conditions (from flooding conditions to bone dry and back to flood) so there was a hint of mildew to see on the foliage. Of course, I can hear Steve telling me that the daylily foliage doesn't look so hot right now either, hmmmm, guess he's right.

This one was extremely pleasing to me. I loved the simple form and the pinwheel effect of the inside petaloids.

Here's a not-so-artistic shot of a corner of the trial garden. If you'd like to read more information on Dahlias, Steve has a great website at My one wish was that I had the chance to take photos of some of Steve's containers. He's a real master when it comes to filling them with Dahlias and other plant material.

What I really liked the most about Steve's program is that his gardens are totally organic. He's a big fan of aerated compost tea (something I need to learn more about).

There were a number of trial gardens at Eisenhower Park. Besides the Dahlia one, there was a Rose Garden (very small), a Butterfly garden (at peak), an Herb garden and an All America Selections Garden (featuring new annuals). I'll post about one of the other ones on my Melanie's Perennials blog in a little while.

It's raining outside now, guess I might as well attack the dustballs rolling around the house.