Dahlia Season at the Coast

 August Bloomday did not come to fruition for me-3 days in a row of temperatures north of 105 even crisped up the zonal Geraniums. A rude awakening after spending a few days at a quiet inn on the north coast where temps stayed in the pleasant mid-60's . Now that it's not 105 anymore I could actually go outside and trim up the torched plants however now we have the smoke, the ash, the grey and gold horizons all around. Fires are in my county and all counties adjacent so the breeze that blows the smoke away from one direction  blows it in from another.
  My Dahlias did not fare well in the c-note temps. And prior to the the heat wave they have been beset with leaf miners that have made a hot mess of their foliage. I have been spending a fair amount of time researching options for control for next year-at this point in the summer the damage is done and I just have to live with the unsightly result. One bit of advice was to pick off and destroy any leaves as soon as they start to show signs of damage-if I did that right now there would be little to no foliage left. I've been pulling only the most disfigured leaves, cursing at the exit holes and watching for new squiggles. More vigilance will be called for in 2021 but I also plan to grow them in an area that is segregated enough from the garden at large to hopefully hide the foliage somewhat from the general view. My garden is small so it's hard to hide anything but I did manage to successfully obscure the crappy bearded Iris foliage. In such a year a small victory is welcome.

So here are some photos from the Dahlia collection at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, taken last Thursday. If it seems like the only place I have been in the last 6 months is Mendocino it is because..the only place I have been in the last 6 months is Mendocino. It was a pleasure to see healthy well grown Dahlias, when my own have endured such pestilence.

 The Dahlias are grown within a belt of Cypress that separates them from headlands and the sea below. Most of them are tagged but at this point of the summer the plants have engulfed and obscured the labels.

The supports are just plain old tomato cages-much more efficient for Dahlias than tomatoes if you ask me. You can just see the top ring below the flower on the left. Like the plant tags, at this time of year they are barely visible.

 A few years ago I planted 4 of the pom types, but it was very disappointing and I dug them up and discarded them in fall . I will try them again sometime. Perhaps I need to choose varieties of poms that are recommended for commercial cutting gardens-they are bound to have more blooms than mine did. Either that or I should have given them another year.

 I love the singles too. They leave the damn cucumber beetles quite exposed. Much easier to hide in those dense petaled numbers. My control for these little beasts is to take a hand held cordless dustbuster out into the garden in the morning and vacuum them into oblivion. Works quite well but you have to stay on top of it.

 This one is particularly gaudy.  It would be hard to work something like this into anything but a hot border. I'd love to have a spot for this.

A better view of the lush foliage. So unfair.

 The appropriately Mendocino-ish signage as you enter the garden.

 This is what you see if you venture beyond the trees.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is currently open only to advance ticket holders; members do not require tickets and can walk in any time during open hours. The garden welcomes your canine friends on leash.


  1. Your photos are spectacular. The flowers practically glow. My dahlias are finally coming on but will fall very short of Mendocino's display. We usually visit Vancouver Island in late summer and always head to Butchart Gardens for their gorgeous dahlia display. Will miss it this year. Thanks for this great post.

  2. I was thinking of you this morning while listening to coverage of the hideous fires up north so I was very pleased to see your post pop up to show that you're safe. We have fires down this way too but yours are both more numerous and more vicious. I also had problems with leaf miners on my dahlias this year. I started spraying them with neem oil early on and I think it helped kill off the larvae but I also cut off the most badly affected leaves. I was very late in planting my dahlia tubers this year and they've been slow to bloom but I'm pleased to have some appearing. Mendocino's dahlia garden is truly spectacular and I long to get up that way to visit it, preferably at various times of year. Thanks for sharing the garden's bloom display, Kathy. Stay safe!

    1. The smoke ! It's ok outside til about 10 and then I get chased inside. The house will be clean though. What I wouldn't give for about an inch of rain right now ! The garden is beautiful most times of year -though pretty subdued in the dead of winter- and can be stormy too. At least you don't have to worry about heat !

  3. Ooh, I'm picking up that incredibly beneficent Mendocino light in your photos. When I tried to grow dahlias I always got the leaf miners too. I'm trying some dahlias from seed for next summer, something I picked up from Jimi Blake, which will be singles, and I'm curious to see if their habits of growth and culture are less demanding than the named varieties. Take care! Hoping Gavin sorts it out somehow.

    1. I've found that the really dark foliage plants (like the Mystic series) seem to be of no interest to leaf miner. Probably the Bishops series too ? I'm hoping for one more trip to Mendo in fall. Pending the fire situation.

  4. Spectacular blooms ...I love reflex variety of Dahlia ..It would be my pleasure if you join my link up party related to gardening where you can share about anything relate to gardening here http://jaipurgardening.blogspot.com/2020/08/garden-affair-home-grown-veggie.html

  5. I was looking forward to your visit to see your Dahlia photos. Worth the wait! Delicious. The white cactus-form one, wow. The pompoms, too. Use tomato cages for support as well--same result: great for Dahlias, fail for tomatoes. Maybe they should be renamed.

    Here the leaf miners are not bad...a bit of damage, not much. Maybe there's a predator getting them, but which one? The adults are flies--maybe the Pacific Coast Flycatcher couple that nested on the patio were eating them. Happy thought! I've seen them at the urn fountain getting a drink a few times since--glad they are still around.

    1. I've been researching the predators but also want to be able to recognize the adult flies. I was going to take a photo of the damage I have but it's too damn smokey out there. Dahlia Cages ! I don't think I've ever used a tomato cage on an actual tomato.

  6. So beautiful. Thanks for sharing.


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