Bodacious Dahlias

I was bitten by the dahlia bug when a co worker at Rebus, Sandy, who was an editor, gave me a grand, maybe 15 stems, bouquet of dinner plate (yes blooms that big) dahlias for my 28th birthday. No smell, but big, wild, and beautiful. They lasted well over a week, maybe two. She cut them from her garden in Massachusetts where she traveled from NYC nearly every week end . . . suddenly I got it. It’s a long trip, but certainly the garden where these came from must have been grand. 

That was 22 years ago. Sandy, I think, must have given me the low down on how to grow them and I did lots of pre internet research on them. I knew I was primarily interested in dinnerplates. There are hundreds of varieties. Right out of the gate, I chose Bodacious to be the first I would try. In my garden at the gardener’s cottage at Shadowbrook in Irvington NY — technically Tarrytown — I grew a few seasons of them. I saved the tubers down in the dirt and rock cellar wrapped in newspaper and successfully planted them year after year. Sadly, those years came to an end. Better things than dahlias were grown over those years. Those memories become intertwined with the dahlias. 

I’m amazed you plant a seemingly dead root in the dirt and with care and timing and luck — something beautiful grows. Something that stops your heart. Something better than you. Does it last? Ughhh we all know no. Ends come.

I moved to Millburn NJ — the middle of a garden state. I sent away to Seattle for a fresh tuber of Bodacious. Would it grow? Would I love it the same? 

I’ve cut the first bloom and it’s on my desk. I study the twists and turns. I sniff. Nope. I turn it around and look at it from the side. Each morning, I think, maybe it will be wilted, or worse, dead. For now, I’m lost in amazement — how can I not be? The end will come, but I’m holding onto the right now. I’ll survive the end, I have before. Right now, I’m looking.

What do you see? I see everything 

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