By Dasha Morgan- This weekend the Carolinas Dahlia Society is hosting their 50th American Dahlia Society National Show at the Crowne Plaza Expo Center. Visitors will have an opportunity to see hundreds of show quality dahlia and to learn how to grow these striking flowers. The halls will open on Saturday, September 17th from 1 PM to 5 PM (after judging has taken place) and on Sunday, September 18th, 8 AM until 3 PM. Admission is FREE.
The dahlia plant is a genus of bushy, tuberous, herbaceous perennial plants native to Mexico. In 1963 the dahlia was declared the national flower of Mexico. It is a plant that likes warm days and cool nights. The Carolinas Dahlia Society was formed in 1986 by four couples in Anderson, SC. In 1992 the society, which exists to perpetuate the growing and showing of dahlias, hosted a National Dahlia Show in Asheville. They currently have close to 130 members, have monthly meetings, annual shows and offer speakers for garden clubs and master gardeners, as well as other activities reaching out to gardeners, florists, and children.
These beautiful flowers are in a multitude of colors and sizes, from a giant 10-inch dinner plate bloom to a small nickel size blossom. The plant flowers midsummer to first frost. They usually grow 4 to 5 feet tall. You undoubtedly have seen many in gardens throughout the western North Carolina area, often staked and in rows. In fact the High Hampton Inn in Cashiers, NC, has a historic dahlia garden on their property. This garden was first planted more than 100 years ago by Caroline Halsted, a niece of General Wade Hampton, the original owner of the High Hampton property. She was the wife of Dr. William Halsted, the internationally-acclaimed first Chief of Surgery at Johns Hopkins University and the second owner of High Hampton. The hotel often places dahlias in their guest rooms and throughout the hotel.
At this American Dahlia Society sanctioned show, there will be a variety of exhibits including single blooms, 3 blooms, 5 blooms exactly alike, artistic arrangements and photos. In addition, over 100 varieties of dahlia blooms from both national and international dahlia hybridizers will be showcased. And there will be many dahlia photographs to see.
On both Saturday and Sunday “Youth Outreach” activities for kids are scheduled. For adults Saturday afternoon free educational seminars will be held. At 2:00 PM Tony Evangelista and Tommy Spain will talk about organic gardening techniques specific to dahlias. Chris Leek, NC. Soil Agronomist, will talk about soil testing, soil preparation and soil amendments. At 2:30 John Menzel, a dahlia hybridizer from Australia, will introduce his latest book about growing dahlias in very hot climates. This is his “American Book Launch” with books for sale that can be autographed. Also at 2:30 Isabel Garren will give a free demonstration of the art of making paper dahlias, with a free kit for the first 30 participants to make paper dahlias. However, pre-registration for this craft class is required.
For dahlia enthusiasts, this National Show will be a wonderful chance to meet some of the most esteemed growers worldwide. They can purchase plants for their own garden next year. Dahlias provided by the members will be for sale on the veranda outside the Expo Center. At 3 PM on Sunday the show flowers will be sold to the public. Then at 4 PM the prize-winning flowers on the head table will be offered for sale. Bullington Gardens in Hendersonville is the beneficiary of these sales with their Master Gardeners handling that function. In fact at Bullington Gardens on Sept. 20, 21, & 22 there will be a Dahlia Daze with free tours of their dahlia garden at 10.00 AM and 2:00 PM. For further information on the dahlia activities there, go to bullingtongardens.org, or for more information on the society and show, go to (www.Dahlia.org, www.CarolinasDahliaSociety.org, or www.NationalDahliaShow.org).