The experts at the National Dahlia Collections told Kirsty Fergusson the best varieties they’d suggest for the typical country garden in Britain.
One note, though: to ensure you get hold of the dahlias you want, put in your orders as soon as possible.
The Happy Single dahlia range has dark foliage, single flowers and is loved by pollinators. The flowers’ compact habit makes them especially suited to windy sites or for the front of the border. ‘HS Wink’ and ‘HS Juliet’ are rich pink, ‘HS Romeo’ is a velvety-red and ‘HS Party’ is primrose yellow.
Species dahlias come true from seed and one of the best is Dahlia merckii. The pinky-white flowers are delicate and nodding and the foliage fine-cut, rather like thalictrum. Useful in Gertrude Jekyll-type border planting schemes.
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Dahlia imperialis, the tree dahlia. Growing up to 12ft tall, it looks perfect in a hot, tropical border and there’s no need to stake, as the stems are as sturdy as tree trunks. (The Aztecs used them as water pipes.) If space is limited, you could try growing one in a dustbin.
The Karma dahlia is bred for long, straight stems. Bi-colour flowers are borne upright and are excellent for cutting. ‘Karma Choc’ is deep crimson and purple, ‘Karma Sangria’ is peachy-pink and yellow and ‘Karma Yin-Yang’, red with white petal tips, are personal favourites.
If undecided about single or double flowers, Collerette dahlias give you the best of both worlds: a single row of outer flat petals and a collar of shorter florets. Collerette ‘Pooh’ gives you a glorious mix of orange and yellow.
Dahlia ‘Shep’s Memory’. This is a big, blowsy dahlia that will need staking—but the fully double, peachy blooms reward the effort and would look fabulous, with grasses perhaps, in a punchy, late-season border.