Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Autumn Flowers

This is not one of Reggie's wordy posts, Dear Reader.  This is a pretty pictures post.

About autumn flowers.  Dahlias, in fact.  We bought these this past weekend at the Farmers Market in the town nearby Darlington House, from the good ladies at Cedar Farm.  They have the most beautiful flowers.

The dahlias really are lovely—all magenta and purple, pink, and white—and so prettily arranged by Boy in an antique amethyst glass vase.

MD always said that she thought Dahlias were common.  Not quite as bad as "those horrid carnations," but not much better, either.  At least in her book.

She wasn't right about everything, you know. . .

Photographs by Boy Fenwick


  1. I think I would agree with MD on this, but you've rescued the problem by sticking (predominantly) to one colour, and modifying any garnishess associated with the flower by the choice of purple, and the amethyst vase. I approve!

    1. Thank you, Columnist. While there are certainly rather ugly dahlias to be found out there (particularly at specialist shows) that are over-hybridized, garishly colored, and weirdly shaped -- the good ladies of Cedar Farm fortunately (and rightly) stick to pleasing old fashioned ones, such as the ones shown in these photographs. RD

  2. Hello Reggie, You have certainly demonstrated the latent elegance of dahlias. Perhaps next Boy should have a go at carnations.
    --Road to Parnassus

    1. Hello RTP: Boy and I agree that our mothers' generation's disdain for carnations was misapplied. Understood, certainly, due to their over-use in ugly FTD-type arrangements that were popular post-WWII. Boy has, in fact, made pretty arrangements with carnations, and even ones found in cellophane wrapped bunches in convenience stores (in a pinch). As with the dahlias arrangement shown, the trick to arranging carnations is to tightly mass many of them of a single color in a vase. They can look rather pleasing, and nothing like the spindly, babies' breath- and daisy-augmented carnation arrangements that MD so abhored. RD

  3. You are fortunate to have a local source for such beautiful dahlias. Although perennial, the tubers would have to be lifted from the ground in your climate to avoid frost. And it takes them so long to bloom that gardeners in the NE usually avoid them unless they have a greenhouse to start them in containers.

    And let's not forget that other much-disparaged flower, especially this time of year, the chrysanthemum.

  4. What a beautiful photo with the complimentary blurry green wall in the background.

  5. Remember when you, Boy & I were at Longwood Gardens and we saw what looked like a ladies' luncheon with attendees wearing fancy hats? As we got closer we discovered that it was a Dahlia competition. I always think of that day when I see a Dahlia.

  6. such rich color...and in such a lovely vessel. Carolyn Roehm has some beautiful varieties on her site now as well....and she is also the only person I have ever seen that can arrange a sophisticated carnation bouquet. Would love to see what you could do with them as well

  7. Am I really about to type the words "sumptuous photographs" twice in one week on your posts Reggie? I suppose I am. What more can one say - this is a confection for the eyes. Delicious!

    As a child, I remember my parents driving to a nearby farm in Kent (England), and each autumn buying dahlias in earthy colors from the husband and wife who ran the farm shop (they later became good friends of ours). I did not appreciate dahlias as much in those days, but I also don't recall seeing these beautiful shades of magenta either.

  8. They would look fantastic in the new apartment of decorator Alex Papachristidis as seen in the latest Elle Decor!


  9. Beautiful! Perfect in that vase. Hope you post some photos of the Flower Arranging Room at Darlington.

  10. I the only reader who's reminded by this posting of that wonderful, gallumphing scene in "A Room With a view" in which the beleagured mother is being pestered by a fretful Helen Bonham Carter (playing her daughter)as she tries (to no particular avail) to stake-up her precious dahlias in a sudden, autumnal gale-force wind?

    It's a terribly funny scene, during which nothing particularly amusing is actually said.....

    Just for the record?....I LIKE DAHLIAS.

    I'm a fairly ferocious and, among my acquaintances, well-known gardener. the BEST compliment I ever got was when the poet Jefferey Beam visited my old house one afternoon for the first time. We stepped out the back door and hadn't gone more than ten feet when he gripped my arm and said "Oh, my God.....I recognize every flower you have here! This is EXACTLY like my grandmother and great-aunts' gardens....".

    As I said, that's the most satisfying compliment I've ever gotten on the garden.

    thanks for the predictably lovely posting,

    David "No Slave to Horticultural Fashions" Terry

  11. Beautiful. Well done Boy!
    I love dahlias! Especially the very dark magentas and the huge, mad-cap ones I have in my garden that always look drunk and frowsy.
    It's child's play to make an armful of roses look gorgeous- much more of a challenge to work with dahlias, chrysanthemums and yes, even carnations and turn them into something special-though I'm afraid there is just no hope for "Baby's Breath"
    Happy Autumn to you!

  12. Dahlias are now thoroughly rehabilitated, thanks to you both. May I recommend the 'Bishop of Llanduff' as a particularly, snazzy variety.



  13. Oh dear- "Common" was and is the worst thing my mother can say about anything or anyone-as in "The wedding was so grim and that bride is just common" however I think you two nailed it with the dahlias in the amethyst vase-

  14. My mother would never have said "common," as a dyed-in-the-wool New England liberal. But she would have said, "in bad taste," and meant, "common."


  15. I thought I didn't like dahlias but the way you present them, I must say -- there is absolutely nothing common about these! Quite lovely.

  16. Laughed out loud at MDs comment!

    My mother had a "thing" against snapdragons.

  17. An interesting post. I think your mother might have had a fit if she had been with us in one the villages we past through on our motoring holiday. The streets were lined with a multicoloured cavalcade of dahlias.

  18. I was just at a lecture with Charlotte Moss who extolled the virtues of the common carnation. She loves them and even did a fabric print of carnations. So you might be in good company!

  19. The dahlias are amazingly beautiful. You presented it more nicely. the colors are heart touching and your work too.


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