Sooke Garden Club: Time for dahlias to dazzle

Garden club speaker on Sept. 26 will be Jean Vantreight

Jean Vantreight with a display of many and sundry smaller dahlias. Jean is this month’s guest speaker for the Sooke Garden Club.

As summer comes to a close, gardens that rely on perennials for colour tend to lose the ‘wow’ factor created by vivid hues of spring and early summer flowers. Enter the dahlia – big, bold and beautiful. Okay, they’re not always big. They range widely in both plant and flower size, but they always deliver ‘big’ when it comes to impact. Their colours and colour combinations are simply stunning. Most excel in vases and arrangements (if you’ve been to the Saanich or Sooke Fall Fair, you know this firsthand), but for me it’s the vibrancy they bring to the garden at this time of the year that makes them so worthwhile.

Like many other gardeners in our area, I grow dahlias but bring no particular knowledge or expertise to the undertaking. I got started a few years ago at the urging of a friend who knew I was looking for a late season flower of substance that was low on, if not off, the increasingly long list of plants consumed by the local deer. To date I claim only mixed success, with ‘failures’ due, I suspect, more to my shortcomings than to the dahlias. Fortunately, apart from the odd nibble, our four-hoofed friends have indeed ignored the dahlias, giving us a range of good options for adding flower power to the unfenced landscape from late summer to frost.

It was therefore with considerable surprise that I learned what prompted Victoria-based family matriarch Jean Vantreight to ‘finally get serious’ about growing dahlias: the deer were starting to eat hers. This was some 10 years ago, and she has since become recognized for her knowledge of all things dahlia, her expertise as a grower, and her talent as a prize-winning exhibitor.

Jean will be sharing that expertise at this month’s meeting of the Sooke Garden Club with her presentation on Dazzling Dahlias. Using photos and cut flowers for illustration purposes, Jean will focus on the various types of dahlias and some varieties within those types. She will also discuss the life cycle of these plants and provide helpful tips for growing them successfully. Members are invited to bring questions.

Please note: This month’s meeting will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church on Townsend Road. Also on the schedule: fall parlour show, Potato Contest results, and submission of entries for the annual photo contest. New members are welcome. Membership is $15 for the calendar year and can be purchased at the door. For more information, e-mail: sookegardenclub@yahoo.caor phone Jane at 250-646-2573.