Bullington Dahlia Garden

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One of the most popular attractions at Bullington Gardens will soon be making its re-appearance. By the end of August, the approximately 600 dahlia plants in the Dahlia Garden will be blooming. This is the 6th year of the Dahlia Garden and it will likely attract many visitors to see the exciting splash of color across the garden.

Current day dahlias bear little resemblance to their native cousins in Mexico and Central America. There they grow as tall shrubby plants with single petals. It is the national flower of Mexico. It was Europeans who started hybridizing them to create many forms, colors, and sizes in the flowers we see today.

Forms of dahlias range from the traditional single flower, to various sizes of balls to the large decorative flowers. The American Dahlia Society recognizes18 forms which are based on the shape and arrangement of the petals. The colors of dahlia flowers are vibrant and wide-ranging and can be displayed as single colors or combinations of several.

Every year new hybrids are created and added to the huge list that already exists. Brian Killingsworth, the dahlia expert at Bullington, always allows some flowers to go to seed. The cross-pollination that had occurred by insects will result in brand new combinations. The subsequent plants are grown for evaluation to determine if any are interesting and unique enough to become a new named hybrid. Brian has developed many cultivars, all beginning with the name Creekside (the name of his former commercial dahlia farm).

One interesting fact about the dahlias grown at Bullington is that all of the plants are grown in 4.5-inch plastic pots placed in the ground. This is to protect the tubers from the voracious consumption of voles. By the end of the season, many of the tubers have cracked the pots open, but by then the plants have grown enough to withstand some vole damage.

The Bullington Dahlia Garden is open to the public (along with the rest of the Gardens), Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.