It must be Winter - My Tree Dahlias are in Bloom
When the Tree Dahlias bloom you know it's Winter
I always know when Winter starts. When I wake up to see the fat pink blossoms of my tree dahlias in their full splendour.
Winter is a lovely time of year in Melbourne. Time for scarves and woollen caps outdoors, for lighting a fire in the evenings and settling down with a basket for the knitting, and a basket for the cat.
Winter is time to admire once again, the big wobbly flowers of the tree dahlias.
Photos, year by year
My old tree dahlia now has a taproot that stretches across my whole garden.
It's a wonderful plant, never once have I watered, or fed, it.
Tree dahlia canes are like bamboo canes, they can be broken off easily and a high wind will bring them down.
Of course, where they hit the earth, they can begin to grow from that spot without any help from me. If I didn't cut them back, almost to the ground, after all the flowering has finished, I would soon have a jungle!
Have a look at my blooms, year after year.
Aren't they gorgeous?
First Bloom 2014
The first flower has appeared! This one was in full flower on 19 May
There are buds a-plenty with the promise of a bumper crop of blooms for Winter 2014
The Tree Dahlias are late again this year!
They used to always bloom in May, but every year it's a little later. This year, they weren't in full flower until June 15
The first flower is out!
May 17, 2012
It may not be the arbitrary date for Winter but my tree dahlias are in bloom again. I could see the buds had swollen on Friday 6 May and when I woke up on Mothers' Day the flowers had opened.
It's exactly one year since I put pictures of my tree dahlias into this page. Now they're in full bloom again.
When the fat purple flowers open it's a signal to prepare my garden for the colder months. It's time to get the mulch down, put in the broadbeans and radish and to cut back some of my plants.
It's time to fold away the lightest of my Summer clothes, to stow my sandals, to bring out my Winter jacket and unearth my warm scarves.
And time to take some new pictures of my tree dahlias
I love May and early June. The searing heat of the Summer has gone and Winter still hasn't started to bite. It's hardly got its teeth in. A great time to be outdoors in Melbourne!
My blooms arrived in Mid-May this year, the weather has been mild, but they've finally arrived, making the garden bright and cheerful.
All the photos are mine - Susanna Duffy
I Love my Tree Dahlias
Tree Dahlias will flourish most anywhere in Australia apart from the deserts, but you can find them up in sub-tropical regions and right down the south in the colder climate of Tasmania.
My Dahlia imperialis or, as they're commonly known, tree dahlias, are very similar to regular garden dahlias, and have similar growing habits. There's one big difference though, tree dahlias shoot up to towering heights in a very short time.
Some years, I've had tree dahlias over five metres high - that's more than 16 feet. (It depends how you cut them back).
These dramatic plants bear huge leaves and shaggy pink-purple flowers with yellow centres. The stems are tall, straight and thin, much like bamboo stems. They look so delicate, and make a startling splash in the winter sunlight.
Just like the bamboo which they resemble, the stems are slender and easily broken, but they grow fast from where they have fallen. Unlike bamboo, the tree dahlia has no big system of roots at all. So it won't get under your paving or lift up your brickwork!
Tree Dahlias grow really fast too. You can put a cane in the ground and in 3 months time it will be up past your waist.
Beautiful Blossoms on my Tree DahliasClick thumbnail to view full-size
How to Grow Tree Dahlias
Take a stem cutting with two or more segments.
Plant horizontally about ten cms deep in winter.
Cut right back close to halfway down after flowering (or if burned by frost).
If I remember, I trim mine back in early summer too, to encourage them to bush out.