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David Howard dahlia: The search was worth it.

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Garden book junkie – that’s me. If I find a photo or idea that I can use for a client's landscape, I feel that the book has been worth it.

Recently I took an idea from Stephen Orr’s wonderful book "Tomorrow’s Garden."

I saw a great photo of grasses planted on a grid and used the idea as a frontage for a meadow that was a bit unruly. Worked perfectly.

See a photo, want the plant

So you won’t be surprised that I find new plants or appealing plants in some of these garden books and then must grow them myself.

Such is the case with a whole series of Christopher Lloyd books. I’d seen so many photos of the dark-leaved, glowing-orange dahlia ‘David Howard’ that I had to find it.

‘David Howard’ turned up at the well-known Plants Delight Nursery in North Carolina (although other nurseries carry it, too). I was pleased that instead of sending a shriveled tuber, they sent a started plant that is already blooming for me despite the 100-degree temperatures of a few weeks ago. I thought the heat would send it into a tailspin but here it is, blooming away!

While I don’t expect great performance from dahlias until cooler nights reappear in late August and September, this has been a treat. The dark leaves are the perfect backdrop to this exquisite flower.I highly recommend it.

Don't delay

It’s not the growing season unless there are beautiful flowers to bring into the house. Dahlias, glads, roses -- all speak of summer. We can’t know how many summers we have to grow the beautiful plants. Don’t wait.


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Donna Williamson blogs regularly at Diggin' It. She's a master gardener, garden designer, and garden coach. She has taught gardening and design classes at the State Arboretum of Virginia, Oatlands in Leesburg, and Shenandoah University. She’s also the founder and editor of Grandiflora Mid-Atlantic Gardening magazine, and the author of “The Virginia Gardener’s Companion: An Insider’s Guide to Low Maintenance Gardening in Virginia.” She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. To read more by Donna here at Diggin' It,, click here.

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