Meets second Tuesday of the month at Rose City Park
United Methodist Church, 5830 N.E. Alameda
Editor: Mike Riordan (503) 256-0425
February 2009
Next meeting February 10th, 2009 @ 7:30 PM
Verrone's Steven D. M FD V
Portland Dahlia Society Bulletin

Meets second Tuesday of the month at Rose City Park United Methodist Church, 5830 N.E. Alameda

Portland Dahlia Society website:   

Editor:  Mike Riordan (503) 256-0425         Contacts: Larry Smith (503) 777-1857, Teresa Bergman (360) 274-8292

Next meeting Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 @ 7:30 p.m.


We will have a DVD put together by Claudia Biggs (ADS Image Coordinator) of the new dahlia originations for 2009.  
Also commercial grower sources for the new introductions will be made available.  We will be discussing which 2008
introductions proved most promising in our local growing area.

A demonstration of how to take dahlia cuttings and care for dahlia green plants through their various stages of
development will round out our program for February.

We hope to have the 2009 Edition of Dahlias of Today available for purchase at this meeting.


If you have tubers of newer varieties that are ready to be auctioned, bring them in and they will be auctioned off at this
meeting.  The Board feels that we may get a better price if we do some selling prior to our main event and some of those
who take cuttings would like to get them sooner.  This will be limited to newer varieties, or those that are very hard to


Shirley Bankston and Mike Riordan will be providing cookies for this month’s meeting.


Your Board met on January 17th to go over Dahlia Society business and plan for 2009.  I think we have put together a
very exciting line-up of meetings for the year.

We want to make our programs interesting and informative for all dahlia growers.  We realize some growers like to show
and others just want to grow good looking flowers in the garden. Our aim is to gear the programs with something
educational and informative for all growers.

We are very excited about our hosting the ADS National Show in 2012.  We are working on laying the groundwork
with the site selection process.


In looking ahead to our annual sales, we will be holding 2 tuber workshops at Swan Island Dahlias.  The first will be on
Saturday March 28th, and the second will be on Saturday, April 25th.  The second one will be to prepare tubers for the
Master Gardener’s sale. Starting time for both workshops is 9:00 AM. Please help out and one or both if you can.  
Also, we would like to have tubers you are going to donate for the sale brought in to our March meeting, or in to this
month’s meeting if you can’t be there in March.  Please be sure each variety is clean, free of rot and has a viable eye.  
You do not need to write on each tuber, as long as it is clearly marked in some way.  More than one tuber of a variety
may be put in a bag with the name written on the outside of the bag.  Please be generous as these 2 sales are major
source of funds.  If you plan on bringing tubers to donate with you to the workshops, please e-mail Aaron Riddling with
a list of what you plan to donate.  This way we can have the

labels  printed ahead of time for the sale packages.  Aaron’s e-mail:

At your board meeting it was decided that Portland Dahlia Society members would be given early access to the April
Tuber Sale at 6:00PM.  The general public will not be admitted until 6:30PM.  The idea is to give those who support
your society first choice among the dahlias available on the sale tables.


If you have donated awards in the past or would like to sponsor an award for our show, contact Mike Riordan at 503-
256-0425 or  We need this information ASAP to complete the show schedule.   Some of our
members sponsor awards in the name of their businesses and/or offer gift certificates.  Compliments to Erik Toedtli who
works very hard each year to produce a first class show schedule we all appreciate.


If you haven’t already paid, dues are past due.  Judges please remember that you are required to carry membership in
both the American Dahlia society and the PNDC (Pacific Northwest Dahlia conference).  PDS dues, ADS dues and
PNDC dues should be combined and paid to the Treasurer as noted below. Federation of Northwest Dahlia Growers
dues are $10 and also payable through our Treasurer.

Adults:  $7.00

Couples:  $10.00

Juniors:  $1.00


Individual: $20.00

Family:   $23.00


Individual $10.00

Dual:  $15.00

Mail to or pay at next meeting

Larry Sawyer, 11015 S.W. Berkshire, Portland, OR 97225


How are those tubers doing in storage?  Regardless of your storage medium and method, it is advisable to see how
things are storing.  Sometimes rot can spread from one tuber to the next.  If there is some rot, many times the tuber (s)
can be saved by cutting away the rotted portion and treating the cuts with flowers of sulfur or Captan.  If you are using
vermiculite and the medium seems too damp (vermiculite clinging to tubers), more dry vermiculite can be added to the
storage container. As you are checking through, this is a great time to select tubers you want to take cuttings from and/or
donate to the PDS tuber sale. Not sure how many of you store over pot roots.  I keep mine stored open in nursery flats
in the same storage area (garage) as my tubers.  They are still in the same pots they grew in last summer.  One thing I’ve
learned is to take the flats outdoors and water them thoroughly about once a month.  This does not promote premature
growth, but does enhance the keeping quality of the mini-clumps.

Now is a good time to think about soil in preparation for next growing season. Consider topdressing your dahlia garden
with compost or manure.  In fact this early in the spring, it need not be that well composted.  Cow, horse, chicken, leaf
mold compost, mushroom compost, rabbit, Zoo Doo or Llama will work just fine.  Check your local newspaper or feed
store for suppliers both you - haul or delivered. Besides beneficial nutrients, organic amendments enhance the ability of
the soil to hold water.  This month the soil is too wet to work with machines, but can be hand turned.

While discussing soil, let’s visit the subject of pH.  Soils in the Pacific Northwest tend to be naturally acidic.  Add to this
rain through our polluted skies, and we end up with more push to the acid side. To counter act the acidity, apply
Dolomite Lime or Prilled (pelletized) Lime either now or at planting time. By pulling your soil more to the neutral side the
plants are better able to absorb and process nutrients.  An added benefit to liming is the addition of Calcium to the soil.  
Calcium is essential for the production of cellulose in plant tissue. (Healthier plants with stronger stems).  A soil test will
give you an accurate picture of what’s needed in your soil.  See A & L Laboratory’s web site at


At the board meeting Scott’s Alchemy was selected as the Challenge Flower for 2009. Scott’s Alchemy is a BB IC
Bronze seedling of Salmon Rays.  Ample stock will be made available at the tuber and plant auctions.  We will offer a
$10 award for the best bloom in each competition class: Junior, Novice, Amateur and Open.  There is also an additional
$20 award for the best overall bloom from all competition levels.


By Ted J. Kennedy

Every year there are over a 100 new dahlia varieties introduced.  It seems that dahlia gardeners have an insatiable
appetite for new dahlias.  And one would assume that over the last 10 years or so, with over 1000 new varieties
introduced, that every type and every color should have a new variety.  In reality, most of the varieties introduced are
different versions of what we already have. In some cases, the new version is better but more often than not the new
dahlia will be forgotten in few years.

As a dahlia breeder, I can attest to the difficulty of creating a new variety in the right color and shape.  Most dahlia
seedlings are versions of dahlias that have already been bred. Of course, that really makes sense when one considers that
the most children do resemble their parents. Dahlia seedlings are no different.  Having said all of this, what we need to do
is to challenge the dahlia breeders to give us what we want.

Colors: We need nice, pure colors in all of the types and sizes. It is nice to have a great flower in a very light yellow, but
more often, one needs a nice fully pigmented yellow and there are very few.  The same can be said for each of the
colors: we need nice pure red flowers; we need vibrant purples; lots in clear intense orange; more fully pigmented deep
pink; and of course lots of the most neutral color, white.  I suggest that breeders should look for some examples of pure
colors in their seedling patch and even if they are not prime examples of good form, consider keeping them for their
color. Of course a home run for a breeder would be an ideal color with killer form.

The following are some of my requests that need to be introduced:

Ball Dahlias: In most years, very few ball dahlias are introduced.  There are very few light pink balls and none good
enough for my garden.  In yellow, the first really nice yellow ball was introduced last year and it is called Ryecroft Club.
It is not perfect and we need more yellow ones. Then there is white: where are the nice white ball dahlias? Lancresse and
Brookside Snowball are both deficient (Lancresse does not hold centers for most of us and Snowball is very coarse).  
We have lots of red balls and some purple and even a few variegated.  And where is a nice orange ball?  We also need
some nice bicolored and especially a red and white and yellow and white. Bring on the ball dahlias!

Miniature Ball Dahlias: While not so bad as the ball dahlias, it is quite amazing that there are almost no nice MBs in many
of the colors. Pocrates is excellent in white but nearly everybody says they can’t grow it and Juul’s Pearl has a long
lasting green center for many of us. We need more white MBs.  Some nice newer pink MBs have been introduced and
we have gone from almost no pink ones to four really nice ones: in dark pink, Tahoma Eli, SB’s Sir Richard and
Narrows Kirsten and an outstanding one in pink (Chimacum Davi).  And Orange is well represented by Ms. Kennedy.
Hopefully, in yellow, Lulu Island Dad will turn out be really nice and we know BJ’s Megan can win and of course SB’s
Sunny is the one to beat.  Odyssey is a wonderful light blend, but can you believe that there are no bicolored MBs at all
being shown!

Waterlily: Same story different colors. The top winning and probably best WL is Pam Howden and it is predominantly
orange. We need more white, yellow, light pink, dark pink, red, dark red and especially purple. And also more
variegated and even one or two bicolors would be nice.

Giant Dahlias: There are few giant dahlias introduced each year.  I could list nearly every form and color and say that we
need more of them.

I could go on and on. It is frustrating for breeders. I know of one breeder that had a very nice B SC Yellow. Apparently,
he thought it was the best one he had ever bred. It did not fare well in the trial gardens, probably not because it was not
a nice flower. Rather, the judges know we have more than enough B SC Yellows.  Another issue with breeders may be
that they are not in touch with the needs of dahlia growers, both from the show perspective and the cut flower market. I
would bet that a lot of these missing forms and colors have been culled from seedling patches because the breeder felt
that the flower was not good enough.


The Federation of Northwest Dahlia Growers will hold their Spring Workshop on Saturday, March 21st.  There is no
cost to this event and most participants bring a brown bag lunch. Presentations on varied aspects of dahlia growing are
provided throughout the day.  Contact Teresa Bergman (360)274-8192 for more information and to coordinate car pool


The Pacific Northwest Dahlia Conference will hold its spring meeting on Saturday, April 18th at Georgetown Realty in
Portland.  This change of venue is necessitated by the closure of Steamer’s Restaurant. Georgetown is located at 1000
NE 122nd Avenue, Portland 97230.  The luncheon begins at noon. Details concerning the luncheon arrangements to

Following the luncheon is a short business meeting; this is followed by a tuber and plant auction.  Many of the originators
from the entire west coast (British Columbia through Southern Oregon) will be in attendance.  Many will bring some of
their new originations and imports to the auction. Everyone’s interest in the newer varieties and the spirited bidding
(encouraged by a professional auctioneer) is more than worth the price of the luncheon. You do not need to be a
member of the PNDC to attend and participate in this function. If anyone prefers to arrive at 1:00 and skip the luncheon,
this is perfectly acceptable.


Our December 2008 ADS Bulletin lists the winners of the ADS Medal for Lifetime Achievement on pages 42 and 43.

We have three former members of the Portland Dahlia Society who are so honored.  The first of these was Peter F.
Kershisnick who shared the award in 1969.  “K”, as he was affectionately known, served as editor of the Pacific Dahlia
which was the slick quarterly publication of the PNDC.  The founding meeting of the PNDC was held in the Kershisnik's
living room on North Michigan Avenue.   His wife, Madge, was the judging instructor for our society.  I will always
remember her for her kindness in helping me become a candidate judge in 1964.

In 1971 our member E. Henry White shared the Gold Medal honor.  Henry was a printer by trade and always took
pride in hand setting his own dahlia catalogue.  His commercial dahlia business was located on SE Creighton Avenue in
Milwaukie.   His long time claim to fame was that he was not the largest commercial grower in the US, but merely the
oldest, having begun his commercial dahlia enterprise in 1912!

John and Cay McEvoy shared the Gold Medal Award in 1977.  John and Cay had been active in our society since the
mid 1950’s.  John had served as President and Cay as Recording Secretary in the majority of those years.  John was
also the driving force behind Portland hosting our first ADS National show in the late 1970’s. Their home was on 55th
and East Burnside (South side).  Today you can still see their greenhouses and the now fallow ground which boarders


There are many who still argue that tubers are superior to green plants, while others take the opposite view.  Time and
experience have shown that green plants are equally good if properly made plants are used and sensible care given
them.  Some varieties will not make as many tubers, or as large ones, when grown from green plants, but all will make
satisfactory clumps.  When it is remembered that exhibition blooms from green plants are usually superior to those grown
from tubers, the last argument against the use of green plants is removed.

From:  Practical Dahlia Culture published in  1946
Waterlily Floater exhibit at Puget Show