September Flowers | The First of the Sunflowers
My dahlias are in full flower at the moment, I’m just waiting for ‘lavender perfection’ and ‘café au lait’ to bloom for the first time and then we’ll have caught up from all the slug damage earlier in the season. I had to remove three tubers that the slugs were being merciless with and put them back in pots, raised off the ground on my slug proof seedling table. Those were ‘café au lait rosé’, ‘rockstar’ and ‘soulman’. One of them died completely, I think it was ‘rockstar’. They were end of season sale tubers and pretty weak to begin with, and the slugs just didn’t give them a chance. The other two have recovered enough to grow new foliage but I think it’s likely too late in the season for them to bloom. However, I will leave them in pots on my seedling table as the foliage will put energy into the tubers. I’ll overwinter them with the rest of my tubers and try again next spring.
Dahlia ‘orange fubuki’ was the first to bloom for me this year and I am in love with those colours. It’s a soft, subtle orange, almost pink, and it’s been giving me so many blooms. I didn’t pinch out any of my dahlias this year because the slugs did it for me, and they created short, bushy plants with all their chewing. Whilst some of my dahlia plants are putting out tiny blooms with short stems, the orange fubuki is growing good sized blooms with stems long enough to use in arrangements.
I love the dinner plate dahlias, this one came from Morrisons of all places! The only problem with them is that they are top heavy and the stems snap very easily. I have staked this one to try and support the blooms, which grow on very long stems. It’s beautiful in arrangements, and works well because the showy size is offset by the simplicity of the ivory petals.
I didn’t think my wizard of oz would flower, it was so badly damaged by the slugs. It has flowered but a combination of slug damage and our cool wet summer has meant that the blooms are far smaller, far shorter, and a different colour to how I thought they would be. I thought they would be medium sized pastel pink pompoms. We’ll see what it does next year in different conditions, and hopefully with less slug pressure. The blooms are too small to use in arrangements, the stems are so short they barely fit in a tiny bud vase. Still, it’s pretty.
My Franz Kafka took a while to get going but now it’s covered in flowers. The stems are really long, and the blooms are full sized and well coloured. It’s almost a bit too pink for me, but it’s tempered by burying it in an arrangement with lots of white flowers and foliage. Besides, it’s quite nice seeing a shock of colour in the dahlia patch.
Grown from seed, this is one of the Bishop’s children. They grow in jewel colours, and so far I have blood orange and ruby red. The stem are quite short this year so I am mostly leaving them for the insects to enjoy, as they’re open centred and accessible to pollinating insects, and then just dead heading them to keep them blooming through until the frosts.
My snowflake is covered in little white pompoms. Short stems, so not so easy to use in arrangements, but I cut them and put them in tiny bud vases on my windowsill.
The sunflowers are out! I sowed two varieties, ‘red sun’ and ‘autumn beauty’. These are the autumn beauty varieties, I’m still waiting for the red sun. They are very tall, some are over 10 foot, and they’re heavily staked. They form multiple heads along the full length of the thick stem, and the heads are a range of colours, in muted autumn shades. I grew them for the bronzes, coppers and dusty reds, but the yellows are striking too.
I grew a few varieties of callistephus this spring, but only this one survived slug attack. The trouble is that I start my seedlings at home on my balcony, but my balcony doesn’t get full sun as it faces north west. So, to prevent stunted growth, I transfer my seedlings to the allotment as soon as I possibly can. I have fashioned up a slug proof seedling table using a willow trellis stretched over a rectangular frame with legs that my dad made, but earlier in the season I was putting them on our picnic table which is heavily shaded by an oak tree. As they weren’t growing very well I cut my losses and put them in the ground in their final positions, and perhaps I planted them out whilst they were still too young as the slugs destroyed them. I’ll try again next year as I still have seeds for the other varieties.
Our galeux d’eysines squash are starting to develop sugar warts! This is when they start to ripen and the starches turn to sugars. The sugar is released through the skin and develops into what look like warts. Some people think they’re ugly, but to me they’re beautiful and the warty ‘ugly’ squash are also usually the sweetest.
I tried to grow zinnias this year, but Gustave kept eating the seedlings when they were indoors, and then they suffered the same fate as my callistephus. One survived, here it is.