Pick of time

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, but last year I lost a good few tubers to squirrels 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.


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  1. How lucky to still have a few Dahlias to enjoy. I grew one for the first time this year and will try to overwinter the tubers in the garage. We’ll see if it works come Spring!

  2. Those dahlias make a lovely vase and the flower heads look so perfect. Have all the slugs hibernated in Edinburgh?

    • 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.

  3. Your Café-au-Lait are lovely and the jug is a perfect container for them.

  4. 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 🙂

  5. Good save! I imagine I’ll be out there cutting something before our first frost too. Canna leaves are a favorite for sticking in a vase…

  6. As long as your ground isn’t too wet your Dahlias should be OK it really is damp rather than cold that kills them. Lovely vase today, great that you saved them.

  7. 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!

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. Good save! and I love your jug. My mother kept a Wedgewood box like that on her dresser as long as I can remember, it made me smile to see another one.

    • 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.

  12. Thank goodness you thought to go out and pick them! 🙂 They are lovely.

  13. Beautiful photo, Joanna. Lovely blooms, jug and other bits.

  14. 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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