By Theresa Goffredo Herald Writer
Dahlias are like the super models of flowers: long, showy and a bit intimidating.
But if you are determined to grow dahlias, or just want to ogle at their beauty, the Snohomish County Dahlia Society has a “runway” show you won’t want to miss.
The annual Dahlia Show is Aug. 18 and 19 at Forest Park in Everett and there you will see incredible colors and types from more than 2,700 dahlias, modeling as single blooms, triple blooms, five blooms, or in baskets and artistic arrangements.
“Seeing those blooms at the show — they are quite spectacular,” said Hills Collins, a longtime member of the Snohomish County Dahlia Society.
Dahlias aren’t just admired for their looks but also their long flowering season that starts in July and continues into November or until the first hard frost.
Collins has grown dahlias since the mid-1990s and said he started because he thought they were pretty flowers. But his first time at the annual dahlia show in Everett made him a little bit intimidated.
But not for long.
“I went to the show back in 1998, and I walked in that hall and looked at those dahlias and said ‘Why don’t mine look like these?’” Collins recalled. “Then I immediately signed up for the club.”
In the dahlia society club, Collins learned that if he wanted to grow some dazzling dinner-plate-size dahlias — some can grow 15 to 16 inches in diameter — he would have to learn the art of disbudding.
Disbudding is when you pinch off the two side flower buds that form next to the central flower bud.
Snohomish County Dahlia Society members and professional growers are masters at the disbud, which not only helps make the central flower bigger and more beautiful, but also gives each flower a longer, more presentable flower stem.
Longer stems are good for showing and also best for cut flowers at home.
“When you grow the dahlia, they will put out all kinds of blooms so we do disbudding to limit the blooms to get a lot of energy to the ones that are remaining,” Collins said. “So you get the giant ones.”
Collins recommends doing disbudding in cool weather, ideally early in the morning or in the evening when the dahlia plants are crisp with moisture and the buds snap off easily.
Collins has a big yard in Marysville where he has grown up to 500 blooms. He knows several dahlia society members who grow more for selling, such as one member who lives on the Pilchuck River and grows 4,000 dahlia blooms.
But for you dahlia beginners, the annual show provides lots of information about growing methods and how to start your dahlia garden.
Also, the show displays high quality dahlias that all bear “show tags” so that if you see ones you like, you can write down the names to purchase bulbs later.
Society members are also on hand to answer any questions, Collins said.
“People come to the show because they love looking at the flowers,” Collins said. “They are fabulous to look at.”
Incredible color bursts from more than 2,700 dahlias at this annual show presented by the Snohomish County Dahlia Society; 1 to 6 p.m. Aug. 18 and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 19, Floral Hall at Forest Park, 802 E. Mukilteo Blvd., Everett. Free. The show includes competitions and prizes, and advice, along with handouts, from local experts.
For more information about the society, go to www.scdahlias.org.
Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; firstname.lastname@example.org.