Episode 1: Dahlias

In the first episode of this insightful series, Sarah covers one of her favourite topics as she talks to two special guests about Dahlias.

Join Emma Page, Award winning Horticulturist and Garden Designer and Dave Gillam, Chairman of the National Dahlia’s Society as well as being the General Manager for Abercorn Garden Centre in Chelmsford, as they share their extensive knowledge and experience. We discover the inspiration behind Dave Gillam’s passion for growing Dahlias competitively and find out our guests favourite type of Dahlia, and why.

So whether its growing them for the sheer pleasure of it, or you are a bit more serious about the whole affair and wish to grow these beautiful plants in order to compete, this is the place to learn more about the ‘tender’ perennial. They may not be considered low maintenance but any effort put into growing them is likely to be highly rewarded.

Nature Redesigned – Emma Page

The National Dahlia Society website


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This is the roots indoor podcast here to help you get growing. Join us as we explore everything plant related both indoors and out and provide the information you need to create your perfect green environment

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presented by Sarah Wilson.

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Hello, and welcome to Episode One of the roots in all podcast. This podcast is about growing plants be that outdoor, indoor, or food plants, and I’m hoping you’ll find at least something that interests you. The first episode covers a subject that is dear to my heart, simply because I love these plants so much. This episode we are talking about dailies. First up, I’ll be chatting with Emma page, a horticulturist and garden designer who is based in East Sussex. Emma forms one half of the design partnership nature redesigned who amongst their many accomplishments designed the gold medal winning Potter’s garden. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2015. Her design work is informed by the practical experience she gains in her own extensive garden. And I spoke to her to get her take on growing daily is. Hello, Mr. And welcome to the podcast. Thank you for joining me. Hello, pleasure. Thank you. I just wanted to ask you, you obviously have a beautiful big garden here. And you decided to leave your dailies in the ground for a few years running. That’s right. Yes, I did. I just wondered that does kind of run contrary to popular advice. What was it that made you decide to try doing that? Well, I have tried them in the garden in the borders before without success. I’m actually quite lazy. And that was the reason behind it. Because the first year I tried dailies, I lifted them, put them dried them out, put them away in the shed in a box and Dodger forgot about them. And frankly, life’s too short for that sort of thing. So I looked at other ways of doing it and because I’m lucky enough have raised beds. And so that’s quite a controlled environment. So that’s what I did. And I tried it out and kept them going for over six years actually. Wow. And you lost them one winter. Yes. It was a particularly wet winter when Yeah, wet and soggy and even the raised beds were absolutely salted. Probably the wet rather than the cold. Yes. Hmm. Okay, so what’s the depth of soil in your beds? It’s about 18 inches, you know, it’s top soil and compost mix was originally put in and they get topped up with manure and compost every winter. And do they just drain into the ground below that? Yeah, they’re actually on an old tennis court, which is never been used in anger for tennis. So it’s been put to better use. We can get holes in the base through the tarmac to get drainage out through so potentially should have been a good good training arm. Yeah. Okay, that’s interesting. And did you find that they bulked up in size over the six years? Not particularly in all honesty. Now, I think they’d stayed barely well put in action. Okay. So, are you going dailies this year? Well, as I knew you were going to be talking to me about this. I got the catalogue out. I started to have a look. I haven’t for the last couple years but I have got my own a few for this year. Okay, we’ve just specified a new one honka fragile for client, which looks very pretty. Okay, what colour is that? That’s a star shaped one white with pink tinge to it looks beautiful. But she’s got lovely for eyeballs oil, the perfect gardener soil. So okay, and you’ll be recommending that she leaves those per Yeah, so a low maintenance garden as many clients do it shy away from putting them in clients gardens unless I’m responsible for the maintenance because they’re not as straightforward as a standard perennial. There is work involved with them. And actually, one of my customers texted me the other day and said, Oh, how my daily achievers have arrived. What do I do with them? I mean, you could buy the mail order and they’ll arrive in the post or you could go to the shop and buy them in which case I’ll probably be in a packet. So what do you do then when you get them Well, I think the main thing is not to just to put them in a corner and forget about them because they’ll soon rot off in if they’re in plastic bags. Yeah, we’ve all done it. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 4:09
As well, but I would unpack as soon as possible and I would put them up straightaway into three or five litre pots. Okay, and then keep them were in the greenhouse or if it’s pretty warm, actually just outside the greenhouse are counted. Right, a sheltered spot. Yeah, just to give them a head start before they go in the ground. But also if you’re putting them in, amongst other things that have gone dormant. You don’t want to start digging up old dailies by putting new tubers straight in. Yeah, that’s very true. My rationale on that front. And so if you’re going to start them off, well, either oh really imports or in the ground. The danger zone that I find for dailies is when those first shoots just emerge and they get eaten away and then they come back and then they get eaten off again. So what do you do to deter that I’ve marched with straw or soil over the winter and unfortunately that does then provide an absolute Wonderful home first slugs getting stuck in under there. I like to use nematodes, but by the time the soil is warmed up enough to use the nematodes, the damage is already done on the daily as if the new grades coming. It’s a tricky one. I have found that actually, even though they may get going on the young shoots, initially, once the straw or mulch comes off, then they start growing away strong enough that actually they can sort of bite off the worst of it. I’ve tried wool pallets I don’t like using slug pellets and egg shells. I’ll sprinkle stuff and trying to tear them as much as possible. Yeah. And use nematodes when the when the grounds warm enough. Okay. But yeah, it’s a problem. It is. Yeah, it definitely is. So you’ve mentioned the Hong Kong fragile. Mm hmm. And you said that you look through the catalogues. What varieties were you tempted by this year, when I think there looks like a lovely one called creamed cognac, which is one of Sarah ravens one and I’ve also finally found Twinings arbitrate which I first saw in merriment scars I think it was. Yeah, to give that one a go. Right. The one that did best for me before was called down and Royal. It was one of the ball pompon ones, which I think are just so amazingly structural. They remind me of those old crate Christmas decorations that were good. Yeah. And you know, they’re such stunning things to look at. I’ll probably have to go back to one of those as well. They get cut flowers. Yeah, yeah. Do you stake your dailies? Or does it depend? I do if I remember in time, I used I think they’re from heritage cultural that grow through rings. Okay, so as long as you get to them before the growth gets too high, you can get the ring in place and they’ll grow up through that cover it all up and you won’t see it. And it starts poking my out on steaks, which is rather just do otherwise But okay, but if I don’t get there in time, I leave them to their own devices. And yeah, mostly they do Okay, good, but it’s quite shouted down. Let’s be fair, those don’t see being blown off place at all. And also the big top heavy ones will break. Yeah, quite regularly. Yeah. So the other thing I wanted to ask is, do you deadhead? And if so, how do you go about it? Where do you make the cut? Yes, I do deadhead because otherwise, they get incredibly so top, heavy and wet and horrible and everything. I mean, I cut a lot for the house. And that’s mainly it. And then if there’s stuff that’s not quite good enough to come into the house, I’ll just go down to the good bad thing is if you don’t have too high, you just creating lots of little growth at the top and the flowers will weigh all down. So I do go down quite far. When I when I deadhead, say making the cup where they believe Yeah, where do you want to live? But yeah, probably go down. Down by third, the main the stem, you know, you’re supposed to leave only the five strongest chips coming out of the cheaper. I can’t do that.

Unknown Speaker 7:52
Too many. So there’s there’s lots of sort of thinner stems but yeah, yeah. They can take a bit of harder Well, I look forward to seeing the pictures now. Hopefully. So thank you, Emma for your daily advice, pleasure. And that was Emma page talking to me about her daily or growing routine. garden designers like Emma are so good at making other people’s gardens look lovely. And it’s always a privilege to see behind the curtain and hear what they get out to in their own backyards. I’m sure Emma’s words of wisdom will be helpful to you if you’re growing daily as this year. And if you want to check out some examples of Emma’s beautiful design work, visit her website at www dot nature redesigned.co.uk or email her at info at nature redesigned.co.uk You can also follow her on Twitter where she is at EP Gd 181 so I’m very much like Emma and as much as I go daily is in my garden for the sheer pleasure with them and when I can bear it to cut the occasional flower and bring it into the house. But my next guest is Dave Gilliam and he takes his daily grind much more seriously. In fact, he is literally competitive about it. Dave is the chairman of the National Data society, as well as being the general manager of the acorn garden centre in Chelmsford. He also runs a YouTube channel search for Dave Gillam. That’s G, double l am. And you’ll find loads of useful videos about daily growing and about his lifelong passion, which is growing them to show them competitively originally wants to talk today about growing ideas from seed. But first, I couldn’t resist finding out a bit more about what it takes to produce a prize winning specimen and who initially sparked his interest. So where did your love of dailies come from? Then? Presumably, did you have someone in the family that was already into them?

Unknown Speaker 9:42
Okay, great ideas, anchors and some vegetables and Moses and bread rabbit.

Unknown Speaker 9:46
So is that was that what got you started doing the shows and stuff? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 9:50
yeah. I’ve stuck with ideas and

Unknown Speaker 9:55
their food. Some shows coming up soon. So it was fun.

Unknown Speaker 10:00
Yeah, but it is. I don’t envy you though, because it’s a cycle of showing cars I imagine or anything like that. It’s just got to be absolutely spot on at that moment in time. And it’s,

Unknown Speaker 10:10
yeah, that’s a good thing. There’s a thing for me, it’s the fact that it’s so complex in themselves. Fully double blue might have up to 300 pixels. Mother Nature says they’re never going to be all in the right place. So you strive for perfection, but you know, you’re never achieved. It just got to get as close to it as possible. And that means if a year is a different year, that gives you a new challenge, rather than saying, yep, I’ve done it. I’ve perfected it. You know, you never get there. So you keep on drawing.

Unknown Speaker 10:39
Does that level of perfection depend on the type of daliah the parents or the weather

Unknown Speaker 10:45
is the show versus unknown show varieties? They’ve got to have the potential in that variety to achieve show standards. Most people do that fairly. Next It’s only that tiny bit of extra difference. That means a lot of work. And the scale of it is what gives you that extra little bit the flower, you’re planting a flower and it shows it’s just getting a little bit bigger, a bit deeper, a tiny bit more refined and trying to match. A number of flowers are identical to each other to put in the same bowls at the time you want. Okay?

Unknown Speaker 11:25
Well, we might have to get your advice because we always enter our local village show and we do really badly, which is a bit of a bit of an embarrassment for gardener

Unknown Speaker 11:34
is realised is probably is a key

Unknown Speaker 11:37
part of the show varieties like the ones that are in my videos, and they’re they’re the core show varieties in each of the sections, right. If you start with them, you’ll never go wrong. If you get them off a packet off the shelf and try then you’re probably always like, one of the data packets right so the extent it could be grown, and it would still never win a prize. against the show variety because it hasn’t got the uniformity or the qualities that we’re looking for. So we’re starting on the backfoot.

Unknown Speaker 12:08
I will I’ve got you completely off topic, but it is fascinating. So I’m gonna just dive into my already pre arranged questions. So the first one that I’ve got is there’s a lot of mystery for me around growing dailies from seed, and I think probably a lot of people find that they’re not entirely sure about the sowing of them growing and then what to do with them at the end of the season. So is it possible to grow all jania varieties from seed?

Unknown Speaker 12:33
No, it’s a variety. So it’s a named variety, it will never come true to form true type from see because the cultivars rather than species. So because they’re hybrids, hybrids don’t come true to form species, we’ll say they’re quite uncommon.

Unknown Speaker 12:50
So when you go to your local garden centre and you buy a packet of mixed daily is there just you’re just getting a mixed bunch really there? You don’t know.

Unknown Speaker 13:00
Yes, okay, I can only off right so if you buy a packet because it’s quite, you know, we sell them a packet of pom pom dahlia seeds is quite a strong term to say that they will be pompom, you will get some that will have two rows of petals, three rows, four rows and variances in between it’s only the fact that come from that parent teacher that will make them most likely to be off that form tight. The colour and the exact number you know how it would look is completely random.

Unknown Speaker 13:30
And that’s why you get things like bishops children or they called and that’s

Unknown Speaker 13:34
just the single day it is okay. dahlia seeds taken from pollinate it okay dailies and they will generally be of that type, but they’ll be different colours and different heights. foliage might be green, it might be darker. Yeah, the variances will always be there, but they’ll be of a similar type.

Unknown Speaker 13:55
So presuming you’ve got your seeds, you’ve got them to germinate, they’ve sprouted. You’ve got your Baby plants when would be the best time to actually plant those out into your containers or into the garden. There’s kind of time of year you need to do that or something you need to avoid

Unknown Speaker 14:10
daily is on frost Harvey. So frost in there, they’ll be gone. So it’s really a case of so in March April, because there’s so much earlier you’ll be trying to keep them indoors for so long you’ll have these big plants and won’t know whether so to read the march early April with a mindset fantail at the end of May, early June, when really fear of frost has gone and they will go very quickly flower and give your show from that if you are going from cheevers is that sort of rule of thumb applicable as well start them off march april start slightly earlier. You probably start them off in February because they will take three or four weeks to start coming into life and to give you some shoots. Normally if you’re buying some tubers, you probably take cuttings from the tuba. It’d be the cuttings that you’re planting out. If you’re just going to recall the tuber you Do it later and you can just divide it and planted but if you take cuttings then you can get 20 plants from lunch either by taking cuttings of it. You’ve got videos

Unknown Speaker 15:09
on your YouTube channel about that, haven’t you? So if anyone does want to know about doing cartoons I can go into that. What I also think is a bit of a mystery for people. So when they’ve got their their Dania, that they’ve grown from seed, and they’ve planted them out, they spent the summer in the garden and they’re coming to the end. Is it possible to overwinter them like you would? at a grown from a tuber?

Unknown Speaker 15:31
Yes, yeah, they will have a tube it might not be as big as one that was a divided tuber or tubers. Originally, they will have the tuber. And that will store and keep over the winter quite easily out of the ground. If you’re on free draining ground and you just cover the clump, but often they will stay quite happily in the ground. The only problem with that sometimes is the cheaper way for the ground to warm up before it comes into life. So it may start growing and flowering later than if you lifted it Quite yourself.

Unknown Speaker 16:01
And is that the same if you were to buy the kind of bed in dailies that you sometimes see in the garden centres? Will they form tubers by the end of the year?

Unknown Speaker 16:10
Yes, I mean, most of the dahlias are seed raised anyway, or they’re called micro crops, but they will all form small tubers. The smaller, the plants smaller, the cheaper, it generally means that they’re easy to store because you haven’t got a big tuber. This was sort of water that wants to rot. The bedding ones have a nice little needle thin tuber that dries nicely. And they tend to be more reliable to get through.

Unknown Speaker 16:33
Say, I did ask somebody else I interviewed about deadheading. And I think again, that can be a bit of a problem for people. One of the problems is that it’s difficult sometimes to tell the difference between what is a spent flower head and a new body. Is there any guidance on that

Unknown Speaker 16:50
very easy. Spent flower head will always be pointed and get in shape. So it looked like a plumb in shape. Flour barge will almost be busting shaped. So it’ll always be sort of more like a doughnut. The plumb the flowers when they finished in that point,

Unknown Speaker 17:10
and where do you cut your dailies? When you deadhead them? How far down Do you take it

Unknown Speaker 17:15
always really down to the next flour and sugar. And we’ll always advocate to Will someone always advocate despite the dial is just two pairs of leaves the party decide the next pair, even for garden because it just means that the stain will help the flower better. So when the wind comes in, the rain comes and they wind up looking at the floor. It’s because the stems are weaker, and that way you get a natural flush of flowers. When you’re deadheading you naturally cut down so really a stem that’s already going to come into flour to replace the one you’re taking off because it’s only a sort of 10 Day two week behind the very top. mothers were just letting go and just keep pinching them out but you will in the end after the first flush of flowers. Things stains in the flowers will end up being quite weak and if you want to put them in the vows indoors, they will stand up right?

Unknown Speaker 18:07
So you have to be cruel to be kind.

Unknown Speaker 18:10
A little bit yeah, no one likes

Unknown Speaker 18:13
doing it at all mine go all over the show because I can’t bear to take any

Unknown Speaker 18:17
and you’ll probably getting more colour because the flowers would be looks stronger, larger that will hold themselves up above the foliage. Okay and safer for cutting and using them in the house and even weather resistance in the garden. It’d be better for it. I always advise people to have two plants. Side shoot one Don’t ever say what differences gives you a confidence that you know what’s going to come and you haven’t just filmed all of them. Yeah, because you can compare them and once they’ve done that once they nearly always know Yeah, that’s it. I’m just putting now because I can say the benefit.

Unknown Speaker 18:54
What is the point of deadheading? Is it fine to just let the dead flower stay on or Their purpose to go around and meeting them

Unknown Speaker 19:02
is that they spent flowers in the flower stems, you know, if the wind blows and there’s lots of flowers there, they could hit the blooms that are coming out and cause damage to the future flowers. And a plant puts a lot of energy into producing seeds. So you’re trying to just keep the energy into flowering, rather than seed heads, it will encourage more shoots to start growing further down the stem. And if you can rotate them, rather than just sort of tip growth, which again, the plant might end up becoming a little bit top heavy, and need more support and be a bit more so prime so ring damage and blowing over.

Unknown Speaker 19:39
Okay, and my last question for you is, do you have a particular favourite dahlia and if so, why?

Unknown Speaker 19:47
I like all dahlias that probably. If I had to pin it down to one then it would be one called Canora Valentine. Okay, scars is a giant decorative says, For me, I grow And it’s probably somewhere between 10 and 12 inches in all directions. Bright Red, lovely, deep, bright red. So reliable, you just plant it grows it flowers, so the nice dark reddish foliage to it, and one that’s got an older garden merit as well. So it’s a tried and tested garden flower, but it also is probably the best giant decorative for show work we’ve got as well. So it’s a real all rounder,

Unknown Speaker 20:26
and he’s easy to get hold off. Do you know where you can source that? Or is it difficult?

Unknown Speaker 20:31
Generally, any specialist only a nursery, what I would recommend would be halls of Heaven has been going over 100 years as a family business and knows what he’s doing. And the stock is very good. And the service is excellent. And you can get on with the show

Unknown Speaker 20:46
well that’s brilliant. If anybody wants to contact you. Obviously your YouTube channel is Dave Gillam. Is there any other way that people would be able to get ahold of you?

Unknown Speaker 20:54
You can get hold of me and many of us in the society for the Facebook if you just searched the National Journal This facility on Facebook we’ve got a page there which is very active and we’re always looking for questions and you’ll get probably the top 20 growers in the country answering you. And we’ve got the national dahlia society website which is www. hyphen NDS. co. uk.

Unknown Speaker 21:17
Well, a big thank you to Dave and Emma for agreeing to be part of the roots in our first ever episode and for sharing their love of dahlias with me, I did record another interview for this episode with Richard Ramsey of Withypitts dahlias where we talked about growing them specifically as cut flowers. We conducted the interview via mobile phone and sadly the quality was poor and I took the decision not to include it. However, I’ve transcribed the interview and posted it on the Roots and All website and I’m hoping that I can talk to Richard again in person in the future. In the meantime, do check out his website which is www dot with the pits. That’s wi th YPT s hyphen daily is co.uk where he shows a huge range have daily seedlings, plants and tubers and also cut flowers. So if you’re interested in flower street or thinking of ordering flowers for a big event such as a wedding, the windy pits website is well worth a look. So thank you for listening to my first ever episode, and join me again for the next one, where I’ll be talking about how to successfully hire a guardian.

Unknown Speaker 22:24
For more information, visit the Roots and All website at roots and don’t co.uk. To download more episodes, visit iTunes, your favourite podcast provider or get them direct from our website.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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