Dahlias are unlike any other flower. Blossom sizes range from 2" pompons to 14" dinner plates and they come in every color except blue. Plant heights also vary, from 1 1/2 foot dwarfs to 6 foot giants. The American Dahlia Society describes 20 different petal forms including daisy-like singles, spidery cactus, classic balls and exuberant informal decoratives. Examples of each flower form can be seen on Dahlia Hill.
Dahlias are finally receiving the recognition they so richly deserve. Several gardening magazines have recently featured the unique qualities of dahlias. Martha Stewart Living (March 2006), Fine Gardening (June 2008), Garden Design (July 2005) and Midwest Living (September 2006) all featured dahlias, describing them as "sassy but elegant", "a late-season gardeners best friend" and the "quintessential cut flower".
Christopher Lloyd, the great English plantsman, used dahlias on the covers of three of his later books. Defining them as exotic, he prefers to "assimilate dahlias into the garden's fabric" by carefully choosing varieties, sizes and colors that coordinate with the other plants in the garden. In his words "Dahlias spell excitement and we can do with some of that in our lives."
Dahlias are amazing plants and should be considered by every gardener as a way to enliven late summer plantings.