Who loves dahlias? I am delighted to welcome you to the sixth edition of my wild ėden magazine. This month we delve deep into a topic which I am sure so many of you are as obsessed with as I am…the beauty of the incredible dahlia. Why the flowers which hail from South America seem to bring out such a fascinating obsession in so many of us…. and how the power of these plants can be brought into your garden and home. I have been absolutely obsessed with my own dahlias- which I grew myself for the first year -and they are not an easy plant…..but wow are they rewarding! Inspired by these fascinating diva plants this issue is all about learning about the plants roots (literally and figuratively) how to include them in your own scheme, Annette Coleman’s garden in County Sligo and much more.
Let’s dive into the dahlia! 🌸
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These tuberous perennials hail from Mesoamerica- and are native to Mexico but they can also be found growing in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica and in 1963 the plant was declared the National Flower of Mexico. Varieties of this flower were first discovered by Europeans when King Phillip II of Spain sent Francisco Hernandez, a physician to the crown, to Mexico to study plant life and the bountiful resources of the country. Interestingly one of the first varieties of the plant that his team came across was the Tree Dahlia-Dahlia imperialis- which has huge hollow stems which can grow up to over 6 metres in height. The Aztecs named this plant ‘Cocoxochitl’ which translates as ‘Water Cane’ or and this was due to the fact that the stems were hollow and could be used to transport water for Aztec hunters. The plant was also used as a source of food and the Aztecs gathered it from the wild and also cultivated it themselves. It was also interestingly used for many medicinal reasons, among them to treat Epilepsy.
Even today the Dahlia is a staple ingredient in Oaxaca cuisine and is grown for the large tubers-reminiscent of sweet potatoes- as well as being used for producing Dacopa, an extract using roasted tubers whose intense mocha like taste can be used to flavour beverages.
Having said that, one must keep in mind-Dahlias are not the simplest plants to grow. The tubers should be lifted at the end of the season and stored in a dry dark place over Winter so that are not killed off by frost. This makes them a plant that requires more maintenance than some other perennials. Most people who love these plants will agree that the role this plant plays in the border is well worth the effort and I have seen many people fall in love with these specimens once they flower.
w|ė MAGAZINE is an online wild based lifestyle magazine which brings monthly stories, knowledge and recommendations to you, all based on a wild and beautiful approach. w|ė will explore and celebrate topics which resonate with people, to bring an awareness to current issues we face in our shared wild spaces and to connect with like-minded people globally.
There will be interviews with inspiring creatives- designers, architects, chefs, writers, psychologists, doctors, and wild thinkers, creators and dreamers. Through gardens, food, wellness, health and inspiring stories for wild living, we will also link to courses in wild design and lifestyle and have exciting news soon on creative collaborations with incredible wild inspired people and brands.
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