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U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

September 1st and Dahlias

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August and September are the months for Dahlia in my garden.
Dahlia was one of my Mom's favorite plants. She was a teacher in an elementary school. She taught kids in grades one through four. She'd get a class of 25-30 students in 1st grade, teach them for 4 years, then get another group of 1st graders, etc. She was teaching them language, reading and math.
During her teaching career of more than 30 years, she worked in a tiny country school, a small town's boarding school and in a big town's school. I remember her saying that her most rewarding job was in the boarding school. The kids there were either orphans or from big families whose parents couldn't provide for them. Mom said that those kids were the most curious and hungry for learning. Whatever story she told them or whatever picture she showed them, they got excited and eager to learn more.
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The first of September has always been the first school day in Russia. It was assigned that way in 1935 and has never been changed. It is a tradition in Russia to bring flowers for the teachers on the first and last day of the school year. In May, it's mostly lilac. The gardeners in the countryside knew that they needed to guard their lilac bushes the night before school ended, since those kids who didn't have their own flowers were likely to "borrow" some aromatic branches from the neighbors. In September, dahlias, gladiolas and asters were in the bouquets . Mom used to come home with a huge bunch of flowers that we put in vases, jars and whatever else was able to hold stems.
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She always grew these flowers in our garden. The winters were cold with temperatures sometimes down to minus 22 degrees Farenheit. She needed to dig the tubers out and store them til the spring. Remembering this chore kept me from having dahlias in any of my own gardens, even in the Pacific Northwest with its mild climate where tubers can stay in the garden year around. The other reason was that in my mind Dahlia was my Mom's flower and I felt like .... like it was taken from me when she was gone. It was that way til my yoga instructor and her husband shared tens of Dahlia rizoms with me two years ago. I've been having beautiful blooms since then and those blooms bring sweet and sad memories to me, especially when the 1st of September is getting close.
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I can't look at Dahlia blooms without thinking of my Mother. How did she, being always busy, manage to have a garden? How did she find time to take care of the family after coming home late every afternoon with a handbag full of students' papers to read and correct. How did she find the time to spend with us when she needed to write a detailed plan of each lesson every day?
At the end of the school year, for some unknown reason, the school principal used to take the lesson plans from all the teachers and never return them, so they needed to create all their lesson plans from scratch every year.
How could she always be patient and cheerful with us, never raise her voice after coming home from her moonlighting job when we became a one-income family?
I'll never know the answer to these questions. Anyway, the 1st of September is coming. Will my boys take bouquets to their teachers this year like they have done before? None of the other students do, except them. Well, even if they won't, I'll give flowers to the teachers myself.
And these blooms are for you, Mom. Happy 1st of September to you, dear.
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Some facts about Dahlia:
Dahlia is named after Andreas Dahl (1751-89) Swedish botanist.
Andreas Dahl regarded it as a vegetable rather than a garden flower. Interest switched from the edible tubers to the blooms when the first varieties with large, double flowers were bred in Belgium in 1815.
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Dahlia belongs to the family Asteraceae (aster family)
It is native to Mexico and Guatemala.
The first tubers arrived in Europe at the end of the 18th century, sent over to Madrid by the Spanish settlers in Mexico.
The modern dahlia were developed over the centuries, through hybridization.
The most common hybrids are the products of crossing Dahlia coccinea with Dahlia pinnata.
The tubers of the garden dahlia were one source of fructose, used by diabetics.
The favourites in early times were the Ball and Small Decorative Dahlias.
Now it is the Large Decorative and Cactus varieties which are the most popular.
Dahlia Plants range from dwarf bedders (twelve inches high) to giants taller than a man.
Dahlia flowers range in size from an inch to over 10 inches in diameter and 5 inches in depth.
Dahlia bulbs are a subterranean root system, comprising many distinct tubers, each a separate lump. These allow the dahlia plant to mature year after year without benefit of seed or spores.
To sprout the next season, each tuber must have one eye.
The dahlia is the official flower of the city of Seattle.
(Most of above facts are from The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition 2008).
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A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants gives the following varieties of Dahlias, based on their sizes, flowering patterns and resemblance to other flowers :
* Decorative dahlias
* Cactus dahlias
* Fimbriated dahlias
* Ball, Miniature ball, Pompon dahlias
* Waterlily dahlias
* Anemone dahlias
* Collarette dahlias
* Orchid dahlias
* Peony dahlias
* Single and Mignon single dahlias
*Novelty dahlias
Wouldn't it be neat to have at least one of each in the garden?
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Copyright TatyanaS


48 comments:

  1. certain flowers do the same thing to me about my mom. This is a wonderful love felt post!

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  2. I guess you do love Dahlias, you have enough to make me jealous :)

    I used to grow them but our winter's get colder than minus 30 F. and I've gotten lazier over the years and don't like digging in the fall.

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  3. Lovely story Tatyana and beautifully told.

    Do you like single and semi double dahlia like 'Bishop of Llandaff'?

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  4. Thank you Darla!
    Wise Acre, thanks!I doubt that I'd have them if winters here were colder! I admire people who deal with those plants which need winterizing. I think I am also lazy (no competition with you, of course. I am just a bit lazy).

    Rob, thank you! I need to learn more about dahlia varieties. I went on the Internet and looked at Bishop of Llandaff, it's a pretty one. I think I love them all!

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  5. Beautiful dahlias and I loved hearing the story about your mom and the Russian tradition of bringing flowers to the teachers!

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  6. Oh Tatyana your dahlias are stupendous!! A very nice story about your mom, a lovely tribute. I am glad you have dahlias to remind you of her every year when they bloom. I am with you on the digging of tubers..ugh. My grandfather used to plant dahlias in Pittsburgh, PA and it was ritual every year to tend to them. Growing up I thought they were really needy plants. Now that I garden I have found out that they aren't needy. Funny the memories we have.

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  7. What a beautiful story and beautiful flowers. I am glad that you can enjoy Dahlias in your garden now without such a sense of loss, but with sweetness instead. Your mother sounded like a very special and strong woman.

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  8. Of course you must grow dahlias-so you can think of your mother! What a nice post Tatyana. I think it neat the dahlia is the official flower of Seattle too!

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  9. What beautiful, beautiful photos, Tatyana! After reading this poignant story about your mother, I'm glad you have begun raising dahlias. A garden is often a place of memories, I have found. I am especially touched by your mother's story and your appreciation of her sacrifices as I was a teacher, too. I can't imagine why the principal took their lesson plans at the end of each year, though; that meant much more work for the teachers each year. Your mother sounds like a wonderful lady.

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  10. Люблю георины, спасибо за фото!
    у меня бабушка всегда выращивали их в саду. Выменивала у других садовников. И ее не пугало, что они однолетки (а вот мама не хочет их выращивать по этой причине :(. А теперь я смотрю и вспоминаю свое детство... Спасибо!

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  11. Wow, both the story and the blooms are lovely! I'll bet your mom is thrilled that you have her favorite flower in your garden. It's really a shame we don't have a beginning and ending school year tradition meant to flatter the teachers. Maybe I will think of one.

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  12. Robin, thank you! I also love that tradition.
    Janet, you are so right - they are easy plants! And long blooming, too!
    Sweet Bay, thank you! Yes, she was strong. Her oncology doctor told us the same. Strong and gentle, loving, kind.
    Hi Tina! The dahlia became Seattle's official flower in 1913!
    Rose, thank you! That practice was common for all schools in Soviet times. My only guess is that they wanted to encourage the teachers to study and use new updated info and not just use the old materials.The education system in the USSR had good and bad sides, and the one which I wrote about was one of the bad features.

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  13. Beautiful, whatever their names, and a lovely story to go with them. My only objection to Dahlias is that Earwigs (as we call them here) like to live in them.

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  14. Those warm and thoughtful images of your mother tugged at my heart.

    Tatyana, your dahlias are beautiful and should you have room for a few more, I would be happy to share them with you. Di

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  15. gorgeous! gorgeous! gorgeous!
    each one of them are spectacular....
    with just how you talk about your mum, i know how that feels...beautiful post!

    http://www.theurbanbalcony.blogspot.com/

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  16. What a wonderful posting. Memories sometimes are bittersweet but we are often so much better that we have memories to hold of love ones. Your dahlia's are so beautiful and I believe your mother would love them too and would be glad that you remember her for them and grow something she loved.
    Beautiful pictures and memories.

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  17. How lovely that you can now celebrate your mother in a renewed love for dahlias. The picture of her is so wonderful– what a treasure. Thanks for sharing it and your beautiful photos. I love the Russian flower tradition you mentioned– how fun to know about it. Gorgeous photos too.

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  18. What a sight for sore eyes!
    I have a large perennial garden but it's been very rainy in Quebec this year and the blooms have been fleeting and not too showy this year.
    Evelyn in Montreal

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  19. Tatyana what a beautiful tribute to your Mother and I love the picture of her holding all of the flowers. I'm glad you have Dahlias now and I'm sure she would be too - to remember her by and also to enjoy all of their beauty.
    I love Dahlias and usually have many blooming now but I messed up somehow and lost all of mine last year. I bought new ones but they aren't doing that well so I will start over next year.
    Yours are beautiful and you have a nice variety!

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  20. Tatyana, what a beautiful post! Love learning about your history..the dahlias aren't bad but the prettiest flower here is your Mom ;)
    Lynn

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  21. Absolutely beautiful flowers..and all that info! I bought my first Dahlias two days ago and planted them in a pot outside my kitchrn sliding door..I'll have to go find out what type the label says they.
    I taught preschool for a few years and my fondest memories were of one little boy who use to bring me flowers he was allowed to cut from his godmother's garden...he only wanted to bring me those, he told me, because she grew them and they were the prettiest ever grown!
    I'm sure your children's teacher would be touched as well :)

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  22. Thank you Hermes! So far, I didn't see them on my plants.
    Di, hello and thank you! Yes, yes, I'll find a space! I am greedy for plants!
    Urban Green, thanks for stopping by, and I appreciate your kind comment!
    Lona, thank you for your nice words!
    Carolyn, nice to meet you and thank you for your comment!
    Evelyn, thank you and I hope you'll have some sunny days!
    Linda, thank you so much! I also lost several plants last winter, that was so wet and cold.
    Lynn, thank you. It was one of the first years of her teaching, long-long ago, and I'm so glad my Dad took that picture.
    MamaBee, nice to meet you! I have a great respect for all the teachers and want my boys to feel the same way.

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  23. Tatyana, That is a beautiful and touching tribute to your mom. The dahlia is such a lovely flower, I'm guess it will always evoke fond memories of her. I think the dahlia looks quite like a chrysanthemum too. Lastly, Happy Weekend!

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  24. yap i am feeling jealous as well. i mean they are such pretty flowers and you shot them to almost perfection. waiting desperately for mid september so that i could grow these as well.

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  25. WoW...simply beautifully captured shots...lovely!

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  26. Amazing photos. I am impressed!!

    Marit

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  27. Танюш, фото красивые и очень трогательный рассказ про твою мамочку) Знаешь а я почти все поняла без словаря)))Прогресс на лицо!

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  28. Your spectacular images grace this loving tribute to your mother wonderfully! So many lovely dahlias~~and they attract bees! I have planted a few flowers that remind me of my mother. She wasn't a gardener, but she loved hollyhocks. I do hope the teachers your sons have enjoy the beautiful flowers they'll receive. I know I would! gail

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  29. What a beautiful story about your mom. The photos are wonderful.

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  30. A nice tribute to your special Mom. I love your dahlia's and I am sure your boy's teachers will love a bouquet.

    Carolyn

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  31. What a perfect post, Tatyana! Informative, beautiful, interesting, personal....You are a star! Regards Jack

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  32. Amazing photos! Beautiful and touching story! Mom's and their garden are wonderful!

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  33. What a sweet and person post, Tatyana. Your mother raised a wonderful, thoughtful and talented daughter. She would be so proud of your dahlias. They are exquisite, as are the captures of them. Your mother looks so very happy with the bouquet, I am sure she was the very best teacher ever too. It does sound like she was busy, but happy. :-)
    Frances

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  34. Таня, быть твоей сестрой - счастье.
    Продолжать жить нашей семьёй, жизнь которой ты продлеваешь так душевно, талантливо, тактично для других людей и познавательно, - это не только благодать для меня, но и особенная поддержка, возможность сохранять себя, независимо от числа прожитых лет и свойств окружающего мира.

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  35. I have only grown Dahlia's once, they are beautiful. I love learning about other countries and love hearing about Russia(would like to visit).
    I also think it is cool that other countries have school about the same time as here in North America(at least the US and Canada). I know someplaces don't really get a break in school.

    Jake

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  36. Oh, Tatyana, what a sweet, touching story. Such beautiful flowers for a beautiful mom. I'm so glad you have them in your garden now. Your garden is surrounding you with love.

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  37. This really was a very sweet post. I love the picture of your Mom holding the big bouquet of flowers. We are lucky to be able to leave the tubers in here, and that there are so many pretty varieties to grow. I love the white one.

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  38. Beautiful dahlia pictures, and a fine tribute to your mother. What our parents do is just taken for granted when we are children; it's only when we grow up that we start wondering what life was like for them. I was glad to read the history of your mother as well as the dahlias. (Your remark about her curriculum being confiscated each year made me wonder if this was some leftover ethic educational reform; I indexed a book on Tolstoy and the Religious World of his time, and educational reform - and not HAVING too much form - seems to have been one of the big parts of modernism.)

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  39. I loved your story about dahlias in Russian on September 1. Brings back an echo of Russia to me.

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  40. Dahlias are my absolute favorite flower. Wonderful post ;-)

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  41. First off, that was a very touching tribute to your mother and I loved the old time photograph with all of her blossoms in hand! What a great memory you have of her and shared with us. Second, I enjoyed the history lesson on Dahlias. I didn't know a lot about them. The photos of your Dahlias are amazing! I love the one with the spider. Great capture! Egg crates are great for winterizing the tubers! But it sounds like you don't have to!

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  42. Lovely post! I very much enjoyed reading it. Sounds like your mother was a grand person and you are too by remembering her so sweetly. Your photos are just great. The flowers look like they are draped fabric. So beautiful! Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt memory.

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  43. Breathtaking photos of beautiful flowers. Your sensitive story of your mother and Russia brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely story.

    PS I received your foxglove and poppy seeds. I will think of you and your mother each time I look at the plants. You have created a wonderful memory for me. Thank you so much.

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  44. I believe this might be the most wonderful Mother Tribute I have ever read. She was a strikingly beautiful woman.

    If I could give you 5 more "picks", I certainly would. Sentimental, touching, informative, beautiful photos. Your mother would no doubt be so proud to know you think of her so highly.

    Lovely words.
    Lynn

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  45. Wonderful post, your mother's memory and the treasury of dahlia photos. Thank you for sharing.

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  46. The dahlias are lovely.

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  47. Great post, I remember the flower tradition, but haven't thought of it in years. If I recall, teachers are more revered in Russia than they are here, I was always a bit intimidated by them... beautiful flowers though.

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  48. I have been traveling and when not traveling I have been outside all day long...we are experiencing a warm, Indian summer here in upper Michigan. I cannot bear to be inside on my computer. Consequently, I have been WAYYYY behind on reading my fav. blogs and in posting regularly on mine.
    So, I am just getting to read this one tonight. Your dahlia pictures are PHENOMONAL !! Really gorgeous.
    And what a sweet, touching story about your mom.

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