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Botanical Center

Q & A with Barbara Collier, Lisa Moser & Bharti Chojar, Co-Chairs of the 12th Annual Dazzling Dahlias Show

Question: I had never been very aware of dahlias until I got involved with Greenwich Botanical Center and worked at my first Dazzling Dahlias Show. The minute I arrived, felt the energy of the exhibitors, and saw the  flowers...It was a true “aha!” moment. How did you get pulled into the world of the dahlia? What is it about the dahlia that has kept you a part of this organization  and event for so many years? 

Barbara Collier: Like you, my first experience of their amazing variety and array was at the initial Greenwich Dahlia Show 12 years ago which was a much humbler affair than those we have now. I was given a guided tour by an expert grower and just fell in love with the blooms. This amazing gentleman encouraged us to form a society enabling us to put on judged shows under the auspices of the American Dahlia Society and from then on it was just an incredible learning curve meeting many interesting people from varied walks of life.

Bharti Chojar: I planted dahlias with my uncle growing up in India, which has a climate conducive to growing [dahlias]...From a kid's perspective, they always stood very tall!

Q: How would you describe a dahlia person?

Barbara Collier: A lover of perfection and beauty in plants and a conscientious gardener attentive to the many needs of producing quality blooms.

Q: What are the attributes of a prize winning Dahlia? 

Barbara Collier: Quality of color, form, size, bloom position, foliage, stem among other considerations and by comparison with like forms. These Shows provide real competition as witnessed by the many entries and the distances exhibitors travel to take part.

Lisa Moser: They have a huge range of sizes, colors and shapes that you will never see in a florist shop. 

Q: Can you offer one piece of advice to someone in interested in growing Dahlias?

Barbara Collier: Buy good quality tubers and join other dahlia lovers to learn from their experience. A wonderful start would be visiting the Show this September and chatting with our volunteers.

Lisa Moser: Come to the show take pictures of the dahlias you like and buy the ones you fall in love with. Talk to the growers about your favorites. Order tubers early when there is a wide variety of exotic and rare choices. By May, everything is gone. Keep the tubers in a dark space if you buy them early. Plant them at the same time you put your tomato plants in the ground. They like full sun. 

Q: Final question: In my research I learned that dahlia tubers are edible. Have you ever eaten a dahlia tuber? (bonus if you have a recipe!)

Bharti Chojar: No...But I imagine it would make a nice tea…

Lisa Moser: No! But after the first hard frost, you have to dig up your tubers and save them.  Line a cardboard box with newspaper throw in some vermiculite and later place your tubers inside, covering in the vermiculite. Keep them in a cool, dark room (45-55 degrees). Check them to make sure they are not shriveling up and give a spritz of water occasionally.

Dahlia tuber bread via Plantrama

Barbara Collier: You would have to be starving!!!!! 

Thank you ladies! For what it's worth, here is a recipe for dahlia tuber bread, courtesy of Plantrama.

You can learn more about the Greenwich Dahlia Society and the Dazzling Dahlia Show here.

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