Meets second Tuesday of the month at Rose City Park
United Methodist Church, 5830 N.E. Alameda
Editor: Mike Riordan (503) 256-0425
October 2008
Next meeting October 14th, 2008 @ 7:30 PM

Cookie host for October is Jeanette Benson.


We will have an outside speaker from the Red Pig Tool Company.  Our speaker will talk about and demonstrate the
features of his tool offerings.   There will be an opportunity to purchase tools during the refreshment break.


Again this year we will have a competition for the best seedling.  First through third year are ok, as long as they will not
appear in the 2009 ADS Classification Book. We will have an award for the best show dahlia as well as the best and most
unusual cut flower. So bring one or more entries to this debut competition.


Our mentor program will resume with this month’s meeting.  We will meet a half hour before the regular meeting at the rear
of the meeting room from 7:00 to 7:30 PM.  Bring your problems, frustrations and disappointments and Max will let you
know how he’s overcome some of the same or similar issues. It’s a great way for all to learn and share information and
ideas. Experienced growers are also welcome.


At the meeting we will have undivided clumps of dahlias available.  They will be sold using the “silent auction” method.
Members are asked to bring a few clumps of surplus stock that can be donated to this event.  Please make sure the clumps
are well washed and marked with the variety name. We will have 3 x 5 note cards available for the bidding which can take
place before the meeting or during the refreshment break. Last year members liked this program idea. We will repeat this
program feature in the November meeting.


To dig or not to dig…?  Soon the colors will begin to fade and forms will become more imprecise. The sunny brisk fall
days of October will begin to wane and be inevitably followed by the wet, short, cold, overcast days of late November.  
An advantage to digging this month is the soil is not yet waterlogged and the soil comes away from the tubers more easily.
Also consider there may be some spots in your garden which have poor drainage and these areas should be first dug.
Moreover, some varieties are more susceptible to rot in waterlogged November soil. Notoriously hard to winter over
varieties like Rhonda, Mi Wong or Hallmark should be lifted and stored first before soil borne molds begin to do their

If you have planted multiple plants of the same variety, compare them carefully to determine which plants have produced
the best flowers.  Which plants appear more vigorous and have the best centers and overall form?  This is your superior
stock which you will want to replant or in some instances take cuttings from next year.  I sometime code the tubers and the
plastic tag with an “x” by the name to so indicate.

Many of us are still making crosses and attempting to save seed for next year’s stars of tomorrow. It is ok to harvest the
seed pods if they are firm and straw yellow in color.  Some growers like to break open and dry the seeds from the ripe
pods.  Others prefer to leave the pods whole and allow them to dry naturally in a dry location.  I find it easy to cut the pods
with foot long stems and then dry my pod bouquets grouped in ADS plastic exhibition vases.  Sometimes I find I’ll leave a
seed pod parent alone for a few weeks until the pods become more mature.  My digging methodology is quite purposeful
although it may appear random.

If you are growing seedlings, I would suggest digging your first year keepers prior to frost.  In many instances they are
planted more shallowly than established varieties, thus being more vulnerable to a hard freeze.  Many seedling growers
believe in splitting the first year clumps in two prior to storing away.  This tends to lessen the probability of crown rot.  A
dip of all cut portions of all dahlia tubers into an anti-fungal agent helps prevent rot during storage.   I use a Captan
solution.  Others find Benelate solution or household bleach mixed one to ten parts water effective in stopping rot or mold.  
Always be sure to allow your cut tubers time to cure after having divided and treated the cut portions.  This should be done
at storage temperature and will take 24 to 48 hours depending on relative humidity. What works well for me is dividing,
curing and storing my tubers in my attached garage.

A quick note on marking tubers… The best device I’ve found is an indelible pencil called A Bottle of Ink in a Pencil.  It
produces ink-like marks on slightly moist tubers.  We hope to have some of these available for sale at the October meeting.

It also makes sense to bring in your potroots prior to a killing frost.  Just cut off the stalks even with the soil and pack up
the pot, potting soil and root into storage boxes for safe keeping in your tuber storage location. Tubers that have grown out
of the drainage holes can be either left or removed.  My experience has been if makes no difference.  The only advantage
of removal is tighter and neater packing of the storage boxes.


By Max Ollieu

Autumn, my favorite time of the year.  Weather is settled most of the time, days are still warm, nights cool, and dahlias
blooming until a clear, cold night comes along to end the growing season.  For those of us who choose to groom our plants
for dahlia shows, the daily routine changes considerably after the last show.  At least for me, other than deadheading, no
more disbudding, no more pesticide application, no more leaf and lateral removal, etc.  A great time to make even more
bouquets for the house and visiting relatives and friends.  Also a great time to focus on photography using the fall colors as
background for different dahlia varieties.  And, a great time to visit other dahlia gardens to see their varieties, settings,
cultural approaches and to, of course, socialize.  Where else can one find better friends than our fellow dahlia growers!!

Having said and experienced all the above, I’m also starting to prepare for the Big Dig.  That means getting all soaker
hoses rolled up and stored, removing extra stakes needed for support, and any other obstacles such as shade cloth and any
structure that could be in the way.  I also begin removing that percentage of dahlia varieties that didn’t perform up to my
satisfaction.  Sometimes that is 100 percent, but usually 10-25 percent of the plants in a variety that I don’t want to grow
or have others grow.  Each year, it seems I get a little more discriminating as to what qualifies to keep within a variety.  My
suspicion is that much of what I discriminate against has virus as a driver.  Probably just greater evidence of viral-related
symptoms in particular plants within a variety.  Already, my Edna C variety is down to one plant.  Hopefully there will be
enough tubers from that one plant to take cuttings next spring and get back to the number of plants I wish to grow.

Meanwhile, I am also covering the walkways between the rows in my garden with composted wood shavings and horse
manure.  That mulch along with the Big Leaf Maple leaves from three trees shading my lawn will completely cover the
garden and walkways for the winter.  By spring, earthworms will have consumed nearly all the mulch I am now applying
and the weeds and grass will have been held mostly in check.

Killing frosts generally hit my garden after the second week of October.  However, I don’t wait for a killing frost to get
started digging root clumps.  Varieties I don’t plan to keep are dug first and the most valuable last.  Warm dry days are
more of a problem early, so I risk dahlia varieties less valuable to me.  My prized varieties get to grow until the tops are
killed by a frost and the tubers are as developed as they can get.  Wetter, cooler days later are better conditions for
maintaining tuber quality while the root clumps are divided and dried prior to storage in vermiculite.  It works best for me to
dig about as many root clumps as I can process in one day.  I dig, wash and label a variety before moving them into my
garage for 1-2 days, then divide, dust with sulfur, let dry another day before placing in one gallon plastic bags with open
tops with vermiculite just covering the tubers.  Vermiculite is dampened with ¼ cup of water to one gallon of vermiculite.  
The gallon bags are stored in plastic crates which hold 12-20 bags, depending on size.  Most of my dividing is done after
dark with the music turned up.

Before the society meetings in October and November, I select healthy root clumps of varieties that can be sold as
fundraisers at the meetings.  It’s an easy way to dispose of surplus root clumps without having to divide them.  I encourage
others to support our society by taking a few of their surplus root clumps to those meeting as well.
Happy digging!!            

Trades, Purchases and Royalties

By Max Ollieu

Editor’s Note:  This article appeared in the fall 2008 ADS Bulletin and is reprinted here for the benefit of our non-ADS

Don’t know how many times I’ve heard or read how excited growers get about the dahlia catalogs coming out during the
winter months extolling the new varieties.  Okay, I get caught up in it some as well, but I actually look forward even more
to trading dahlia varieties with other growers.  That process and its results gives me much more pleasure than buying new
varieties.  It also allows me to acquire dahlia varieties considerably faster than had I only expanded through purchase.

Annually, I trade dahlia varieties with about a dozen growers.  Some are the same, but each year it’s a different mix.  Most
trades are with growers who enter their blooms in dahlia shows; however, others don’t enter shows at all.  I also trade with
a number of the growers who have commercial dahlia operations.  To facilitate trades, I keep two valuable updated aids, a
list of my current dahlia varieties, and my current dahlia wish list.  I try to have one or more copies of these lists wherever I
interact with other dahlia growers.  That, of course, can be any month of the year, so it is best to be prepared at all times.

Last year, I decided to obtain the April Dawn dahlia variety again after a lapse of several years.  In that regard, I was able
to trade for April Dawn tubers with two growers, but also purchased stock from two commercial growers as well.  The
eight plants from four growers displayed considerable differences in vigor, size of plant, as well as bloom form and color.  
By the end of the season, I kept tubers from just two of the plants and rejected the rest.

If I can’t trade for particular dahlia varieties or just need additional stock, I am fine with purchasing the stock.  While I
mostly traded in 2008, I also purchased dahlias from four commercial growers. They work hard for their money, provide a
valuable service and need our support.  Most if not all of the commercial dahlia growers I know well probably wouldn’t be
in the business if they didn’t also thoroughly enjoy growing dahlias.

The lack of remuneration to the originators of our dahlia varieties bothers me.  It seems fair to me to set aside a portion of
any dahlia sale as a royalty to the originator or his/her heir.  For instance, most of my dahlia tubers go to our club as
fundraisers.  I propose that we set aside a certain percentage of our club tuber sale proceeds to return to the originators of
the varieties we sell.  Why don’t we ask the originators if they would like to share in the proceeds from the sale of their
originations?  In the 2007 edition of Dahlias of Today, Les Connell wrote an article on his origination of April Dawn, a
seedling he first grew in 1978.  It’s still an excellent show as well as garden flower and continues to make the Cream of the
Crop list annually.  Shouldn’t Les rightfully receive a royalty on the sale of every April Dawn tuber?  Presently, any dahlia
variety becomes just another piece of the public domain after a few years.  Maybe its time we showed a little more respect
for our dahlia originators!  After all, the choice is ours.                      


The American Dahlia Society maintains a website at which provides lots of useful information and
links.  If you have a computer and enjoy learning more about dahlias this is a great resource.  On the ADS website there
are links to joining e-mail newsgroups-bulletin boards like the dahlia- net and dahlia- creating.

The Pacific Northwest Dahlia Conference has a web site located at Here you will find lots
of eye-popping dahlia photographs as well as information about the PNDC and its member dahlia clubs

The Portland Dahlia Society’s website is at  Here you will find more information about our club’s
history, pictorial tours of the Canby Trial Garden, tour a member’s garden and see many great dahlia photographs.  Both
the Portland and the PNDC website are created and maintained by our own Ted Kennedy.  Thanks Ted for all you do.


The ball dahlia “Cornel” was named by its originator Mr. Geerlings of Holland for himself “Cor” and his wife named “Nel”.  
It has nothing to do with Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Bill Tapley the Australian originator of the Aitara line of dahlias named Aitara April after no one individual but the month it
first bloomed.  In time of year Australian April is comparable to North American October.


Our Flower of the Year for 2009 is Weston Spanish Dancer, M C Flame.  This variety was tied with Chimicum Katie in
the voting last year.  It is readily available and an eye-catching variety.

We have thrown our hat into the ring for possibly hosting the National Show for 2013.  At our September meeting we
voted to send in the $25 fee to the ADS National Show Committee to have our bid considered.  We did previously host a
National Show back in the 1970’s.  Geographically, we have an advantage in pulling participants from Washington,
Oregon and California.  If we get the green light, there will be many jobs, committees, work groups and details for us all to
work on.  Sounds exciting!!!

A committee has been formed to explore ways and means for a park quality sign for the Canby Trial Garden.  The
committee members are Jeanette Benson, Bill Mishler, Marge Gitts and Larry Smith.  They will inquire other Trial Gardens
on their signage and will bring a recommendation to our club before the garden opens up for the 2009 season.
Collarette Basket
by Cristie Parks
Basket by Margaret Kennedy
Hollyhill Cotton Candy