Pick of time: dahlhias rescued from the frost

img_1545It was already dark on Friday night when I remembered that I’d better pick my last five  ‘Café-au-Lait’ dahlias before an overnight frost got to them. The very next morning, the leaves on the plants had blackened and wilted.

This afternoon I will cut back my dahlias and throw the stems and leaves onto the compost heap. The tubers will stay in the ground this year with a heavy mulch of compost and grass clippings.

I have decided to leave my sweetpeas up for the winter as they are providing shelter for a tender salvia behind them. Come the spring I will cut them back and lay the mass of stems over the dahlias as protection against late frosts.

I realise it is risky to leave my dahlias in the ground, where they may suffer from the cold and damp; however, last year I lost a good few potted-up tubers to the pesky, hungry squirrels in spring, and so I reckon it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other.

In a Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy of Rambling in the Garden and I do recommend visiting her page to see her beautiful vase of flowers, as well as links to many other garden bloggers who have joined in this week.

39 thoughts on “Pick of time: dahlhias rescued from the frost

    1. Oh Annette, I wish, I wish. The little beasts are everywhere. Today when I was tidying up outside, I found several that seemed completely unaffected by this week’s hard frosts. Having said that, they are not interested in my dahlias at all. They seem to prefer the petals on my poor violas.

  1. Great title, Joanna – and I am still surprised that your first proper frost was later than ours! No doubt you are pleased you rescued your C au L before they were nobbled by it – such a pretty dahlia 🙂

  2. Good save! I wish I could leave dahlias in the ground, but it gets too cold here. This is the first winter I tried to dig and store, so hopefully, they’ll make it through, fingers crossed!

      1. The grower says if the ground freezes to 6″ or more, they much be dug and stored overwinter. If you get light freezes, but lots of rain, rot is an issue, so they must be covered in plastic and mulched well. We are zone 5 (-20F), so the tubers must be dug here.

      2. Ha! Luckily, we have a great woodstove! Outside, I wear heavy, insulated boots and a long down coat, along with scarf, hat and double mittens. I walk VERY fast! 😉

  3. Such a beautiful dahlia. I’ve added it to my must grow list for next summer. I always leave my dahlias in the ground now. I think the slugs go straight for the soft growth if they are suddenly planted out in the spring. I mulch mine with the sheep wool and pine needle mix and that helps keep the slugs off. All the best. Karen

      1. Next spring I am buying some Indian runner ducks and a new flock of black rock hens. I’ve always had some while I’ve lived here. But we had a break in from the fox, so we are making Fort Knox. They clear all the cut flower and veg beds of slugs and snails before the growing season.

      2. Bantams are best as they don’t scratch too much. I tend to let them out (supervised- while I’m working out there ) all winter. And then protect crops with netting in spring. Once plants have grown, hens don’t bother with them. But the seedling stage is tricky. I can’t live without them though. They are a wonderful accompaniment to digging.

  4. What a good thing you managed to pick your dahlias before the frost got to them. These later ones look smaller but just as pretty. I always leave my dahlias in too. I am convinced that it is winter wet rather than frost that kills them so I cover them with several layers of newspaper under the mulch to help to keep them dry.

  5. Squirrels are the same the world over it appears! I’m glad we got another view of your beautiful dahlias and I hope they make it through the winter unscathed.

    1. I love those little Wedgwood boxes. So elegant, and so cheap from antique centres and fleamarkets. I am glad mine made you smile and brought back memories – it always cheers me up too! The jug is quite new, from a local pottery that is dangerously close, just two streets away. I have to avert my eyes as I walk past, but on a bad day such as the one upon which this vase (and another in black) came into my possession, I don’t look away quickly enough, with expensive consequences.

  6. Cafe au Lait is with out a doubt the most fabulous bloom. Regarding slugs I save (and crush) eggshells and scatter them around the garden, they do help with the slugs and add to the soil.

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