Don’s Dahlias grows 300 varieties of exhibition dahlias that we sell at farmers’ markets. A few times a season I compete in Dahlia shows and enter blooms for competition with other growers in the Mid-Atlantic region. These are all the same blooms that we bring to Leesburg Farmers’ Market every Saturday morning throughout the season.
With judging for the shows being on Saturdays, the competing blooms are selected the previous Monday for special attention. Umbrellas go up to protect the blooms from the sun and rain, and wooden dowels are clipped to the stems to straighten them and make the bloom as close to perfect as possible. Cutting is done on Friday morning, and the blooms are immediately placed in a holding and transport solution to preserve the optimum condition of the flower. We use a cooler that holds the blooms at 39 degrees for the conditioning period. The dahlias are staged with wooden shims in special containers for showing and then transported carefully to the show for judging and exhibition.
On September 25th, I took 35 entries to the 2009 National Capitol Dahlia Society Show at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD. One entry of Camano Rascal — the red and white cactus dahlia pictured here — won the People’s Choice award as the most popular flower of the show.