Highlights from 2010

Our website hasn’t been updated in a very long time, so as the end of our 2010 growing season approaches we decided to look back and share some highlights of our year.

Lots of changes and challenges!  We had peonies for the first time this spring.  Here Don is holding some of the earliest blooms — we had lots of single peonies at first — which I had never seen before.

Don with peonies

The single peony bloom is less “showy” than the fully double blooms below — still so beautiful in its own way — Don looks happy to be holding the first flowers of 2010!

double peonies

These fully double peonies were taken to the Leesburg Farmer’s Market along with dahlia plants and tubers for several weeks in May. They were a big hit with our customers on Mother’s Day weekend.

And speaking of Mother’s Day weekend…

Don with young dahlia plants

The dahlia plants went into the ground starting Mother’s Day weekend, and in June HOT WEATHER arrived but NO RAIN!  We do have drip irrigation on the plants and it was utilized in all the beds on a rotating schedule, but NOTHING beats a good steady rainfall and we had to wait for rainfall for a very long time.

In July, while still waiting for a good rain (or any rain, for that matter) the first flush of stink bugs arrived!  They chewed up dahlia buds and blossom centers — they are very destructive and no natural predators around — unfortunately birds share our opinion of these pests and don’t consider stink bugs a menu item.  We had to hand-pick these bugs off the plants.

We celebrated July 4th weekend by hosting our 2nd annual “Honey Harvest and Luncheon.”  Don’s daughter Amanda and her friend John both volunteered to assist.  We had a great time together and got a lot of work done.

honey harvest 2010

We harvested over 150 pounds of our own honey (the “Etc.” in Don’s Dahlias, Etc.!).  Amanda is not only our webmaster (mistress) — she also designed our honey bottle labels, and the labels have drawn a lot of attention to our honey.  Thank you, Amanda!

honey labels

Aren’t they great?!

By August, although still waiting for rain, we had enough flowers to supply our brides and outstanding floral designer, Holly Heider Chapple.

September brought some rain to our gardens, and we finally had enough dahlia blooms to attend the Leesburg Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.   What fun to see some of our regular customers again!   We also bring our honey and hand-crafted beeswax moisturizing skin creams to the market.

beeswax moisturizing creams

Don was show chairman again this year for the National Capital Dahlia Society’s 75th annual show held at Brookside Gardens in Maryland.  Don was away a night or two, so our friend Valerie Burton helped Rhonda at the market.

Valerie Burton

It’s October now, and the dahlia plants are producing so many beautiful blooms, but it is sad to realize the first hard frost is getting closer by the day!

We owe thanks to many people for making an enjoyable hobby a successful small-grower business — Holly Heider Chapple, the brides who come out to our gardens to select the flowers for their special day, the customers we see early every Saturday morning at the Leesburg Farmer’s Market, and most of all our thanks to Amanda.  Finally, I must mention the three “assistants” who work daily by Don’s side, helping in all aspects in any way they can.  One could almost say they work like “dogs” …


Lydia, Lizzie, and Louis

From left: Lydia, Lizzie, and Louis

It’s been a great year!  Thanks again,

Don and Rhonda Dramstad

Crowd Pleasers

Camano Rascal

Camano Rascal

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.

Yes, We Do Weddings!

Dahlias are an inspired choice for boutonnieres.

Dahlias are an inspired choice for boutonnieres. (Designs by Holly Heider Chapple Flowers, LTD)

Dahlias are usually in bloom from July to October in northern Virginia, making them an excellent option for summer and fall wedding flowers.  Contact us to learn more, and take a look at some of the lovely wedding arrangements that have featured Don’s Dahlias.