THE SINGLE DAHLIA.
List of Single
Varieties in 1904
BY J. CHEAL.
Ancient Forms—The original form from which all other classes of Dahlia have been produced was undoubtedly the Single.
For very many years, however, the Single varieties were rejected, and the whole
aim of the cultivator was to produce double flowers, large in size, and
symmetrical in form. The Single varieties were consequently thought very little
of until about twenty years ago, when there was a re-awakening to the beauty of
the Single form in many kinds of flowers.
The original type of the Singles was stellate, or star-shaped, but when some
flowers were produced of a rounder and closer form it was evident that there was
a new beauty to be found in them. Several cultivators at once set themselves to
produce this form of flower, "with the result that in a few years a large number
of extremely beautiful flowers were produced of the close, round form, some with
recurved petals of rich colours and soft shadings.
Development.—In the year 1888, Victoria made its appearance with its
bright red edging to each petal, clearly defined and perfectly constant. This
was a forerunner of a large variety of edged and margined flowers of all colours
and shades, quickly followed up by others, in which the colouring was more or
less finely striped or splashed, until, at the present time, we have an endless
variety of lovely self-colours of the richest hues, from deepest maroon, through
all shades of reds, pinks, crimsons, yellows, and orange, to the purest white,
also many other beautifully soft-shaded varieties, and those which are edged,
tipped, striped, and splashed.
Faults.—One great drawback to the stellate varieties was that they
dropped their petals immediately when cut. The broader, and over-lapping petals
helped greatly to support each other, and these lasted much longer in the cut
state. Still a prejudice existed against the Singles and much disappointment was
experienced because they only lasted so short a time in water. This arose from
the fact that most people cut fully expanded flowers, which invariably dropped
their petals in the course of a few hours.
Right Way to Cut.—The right way to cut, whether for exhibition or for the
house, is when the flowers are only half open.
They will then fully expand in water in a few hours, and last for many days
perfectly fresh and sound.
Many who had been discouraged in growing Singles, because of the above
difficulty, on adopting the course here recommended have found great delight in
being able to preserve the flowers by this simple means.
Propagation of Plants.—The Singles are propagated and plants prepared in
the same way as other varieties, and strong plants are produced ready for
planting- out at the end of May or early in June. No one should attempt, to grow
them from seed with the object of planting direct into beds or borders, but only
for experimental purposes and for raising new varieties. Plants raised from seed
should always be, in the first instance, planted in some back position where
they are not wanted for decoration. Seedlings, even with careful hybridisation
and selection of seed, are so variable that only a small percentage of them are
really worth saving, so that where definite objects are required it is far
better to plant only the best selected varieties, whose habits, colours, and
heights are known, and a bed or border of these can hardly he surpassed for
beauty and elegance.
Soil and Situation.—There is probably no section of Dahlias that can be
grown on so wide a range of soil as the Singles.
It is well known that the late lamented President of the National Dahlia
Society, Mr. T. W. Girdlestone, grew his lovely Singles on the poor, dry sand of
Sunningdale, whilst they thrive equally well on the stiff Wealden clay of Sussex
and Kent, on the chalky downs, or in rich alluvial valleys, although in the
latter position growth is apt to be rather rampant and the flowers tend to
coarseness. They can also be grown in all parts of the British Isles, even to
the North of Scotland.
Cultivation.—The ground should be trenched or deeply cultivated the same
as for other Dahlias, but they do not require to be heavily manured; on poor
soil, however, some manure is necessary, especially near to the plants, in order
to induce sufficient growth to produce early flowers. The manure may be applied
to each hole and thoroughly mixed with the soil.
One good central stake should be inserted at the time of planting, and as the
plants grow, four more short stakes or canes should be placed round the plant
and enclosed by two or three lines of twine. The side branches are tied to these
as they grow. They are also convenient for tying the flowers to, to- prevent
their being spoilt by wind.
With most varieties it is not necessary to disbud, even for exhibition purposes,
but it is very desirable to take off all seed-pods directly the flowers drop, in
order to keep the plant in full bloom until late in the autumn.
Selection and Arrangement.—Always select varieties with stiff, wiry
stems, which hold their flowers erect, these being much more valuable either for
garden or house decoration or for exhibition purposes.
In arranging blooms for exhibition, it is almost impossible to do so
satisfactorily without wire, or the use of wire supports, but exceedingly pretty
vases and epergnes are now appearing at the exhibitions, in which flowers are
arranged naturally with foliage and berries showing what artistic effects can be
produced by these flowers with a little taste and care, either for exhibition or
for the beautifying of the home.
Back to Top
The following were the single varieties recorded in the