While chatting with some friends recently, the subject of this year’s favorite new plants came up. We were each wowed by something new in our gardens, so we decided to put together a shared post on What Really Worked — My Favorite New Plant This Year. And by “new” we mean new to our gardens this year. My pick is Dahlia ‘Pooh’. I’ve not had much success with dahlias in the past since they like the soil moister than I’m willing to provide. With my waterwise design, I have limited space in my sunny oasis zones to add anymore than what I already have. But this year was exceptionally moist, and most of the garden became an oasis utopia. It was like living in a rainforest. The story of having Dahlia ‘Pooh’ in my garden is even better than the success of the plant. Last September, just as I was finishing up a photoshoot producing a story for Country Gardens magazine, the homeowner, my dear friend Vivien Phillips, gave me a parting gift. Vivien’s garden comes alive in the late summer through first frost as her dahlias steal the show. To my delight, Vivien shared with me some of her potted dahlias, ‘Pooh’ being one of them. When I got home, I planted ‘Pooh’ only expecting to enjoy her for the rest of the fall season. I didn’t bother to lift the tuber; I just took my chances. I’m like that though. I have very few plants that I baby.
‘Pooh’ is planted in the sunny transitional bed of Helen’s Haven where I only use supplemental water in times of drought. A thirsty plant like a dahlia would have a hard time here during a typical summer. Also, I didn’t stake ‘Pooh’, instead I let her ramble down the sloped bed. It worked for the area, but otherwise would recommend staking this 4 – 5 foot tall beauty. This dahlia is a cutie. A charming choice with 3.5-inch-wide flowers in orange-red petals with bright lemon-colored petal-like sepals. I’ll leave it in the ground again this winter with hopes of it returning next year. If she doesn’t come back, I’ll replace her and effectively treat this dahlia as an annual. If we have a drought, I may make a point to give her a drink from time to time. She is water-worthy. Vivien grows her garden in a zone 6a area and does lift her dahlias each year since it is far too cold for her dahlias to be hardy. She also has so many of them, it’s only practical to do so instead replacing them each year. For Vivien, it’s a true labor of love. After the last of the flowers have faded, and about three-weeks after the first killing frost, Vivien digs and stores each of her dahlia bulbs for winter storage.
I hope you visit the other garden bloggers success stories linked in the photos below, then please share with us your new summer success. What was YOUR new favorite this year?