Last year about this time, after reading about them in Carol Klein’s book Grow Your Own Garden I had made up my mind: I would grow dahlias for the first time. I dug out the BBC Gardeners World issue from March 2011 that had a long feature on dahlias and where a number of lovely dahlia collections from Sarah Raven were advertised. This got me to www.sarahraven.co.uk were I instantly got hooked on their dahlia colour collections. I settled for a purple collection and a black-and-white collection, 7 tubers in total. Ordering was not easy, as they would not deliver outside the UK (in an email exchange they explained that they are yet a small operation and therefore unable to deliver abroad, never mind). As my wife was visiting a friend in England in March, I had them delivered to said friend and we got those tubers to Finland with little trouble (and reasonable UK postage fee).
I did start the tubers end of March and started taking cuttings as fast as they appeared. Although some cuttings failed, I managed to get about 30 cuttings through, plus the original tubers leaving me with about 40 dahlias! They took their precious time flowering, but from the moment when the first flowers opened in August through to mid-October when I dug up the tubers for winter storage they changed our garden totally.
I vividly remember the colour, vigour and smell of the cuttings and leaves and those ever-lasting flowers. I have soundly forgotten all the stress and worrying about where to squeeze in the plants (window sills full already), hardening them off, keeping them in the sun and well-watered, pinching out shoots for a good branch framework and fighting off snails.
Now I have about 30 tubers awaiting to be awoken, and I wonder how many cuttings I do dare take this year… apparently less is more, so they say. Well, we shall see.