The two most beautiful times of year in the Washington D.C. area are spring and fall. Everywhere we look, we see signs of fall, and the warmth and earthiness of the changing leaves remind us that everything in our own gardens, or plants that we’re growing outside, are fading away or going to sleep. At Conklyn’s Flowers, we recognize the wistfulness with which people watch their gardens wind down as perennial flowers prepare themselves for their long winter nap.
We love to bring the beauty of the seasonal colors into the house so we can continue to enjoy the smell and brightness of gorgeous cut flowers at home or at work. One of the best cut flowers for any type of floral design is the dahlia.
We were surprised to learn that Ancient Aztec Indians who lived in mountainous regions of Guatemala and Mexico introduced the world to these magnificent flowers. When the Spanish conquistadors went to Central America to conquer the Indians, they saw dahlias for the first time. When they were able to take breaks from the exhausting combat, they went on nature walks to look at the enormous variety of unusual and exotic native plants.
When they returned to Spain, they brought seeds, roots, and a few plant specimens back and took them to the Royal Botanic Garden in Madrid. There, botanists worked hard to grow dahlias from seed and propagate new plants. Eventually, they were able to share their find with the rest of Europe.
Dahlias must have traveled to England because the flower is one of many that are described in references to the Victorian “language of flowers.” No one knows exactly when the dahlia was introduced to Americans. American garden writers wrote about the flowers and extolled the many varieties during the 1840s. By 1927, as F.F. Rockwell explained, dahlias were the most popular of all flowering bulbs that Americans planted in their gardens. That popularity hasn’t waned a bit.
For commercial floral market growers and home gardeners, the ideal that people envision of the perfect dahlia is a huge flower. Think of the size of Gerbera daisies and sunflowers. Dahlias come in an incredible array of colors, including warm autumnal hues, including red, orange, yellow, pink, purple and white.
Dahlias are spectacular in combination with other flowers. We can easily imagine how beautiful our Amazing Autumn design would look if we added dahlias. The combination of roses, spray roses, Asiatic lilies, chrysanthemums in shades of orange, red, burgundy and hints of yellow is the epitome of a warm fall color design. The addition of seeded eucalyptus and preserved yellow oak leaves give this arrangement, a luxurious feeling. The copper colored vase with a satin finish ties everything together.