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Posts Tagged ‘Swan Island Dahlia Farm’

Swan Island dahlia farm, oregonSeptember is casting its slant light, some days are still bright and some are wet and steely gray; but before autumn blankets the ground with leaves, try not to miss the fields of sturdy and magnificent color at the Swan Island Dahlia farm in Canby, Oregon. It’s a great tonic for the fall and winter ahead.

I went to the Annual Dahlia Festival on its last day, September 6th. It was a brilliant day and the fields were filled with people strolling, laughing at dahlia names (Hissy Fitz, Rock Star, Mango Madness…) and admiring the immense variety. Families brought picnic lunches and sat alongside the fields, and the staff was busy taking orders for shipment in the spring. Although the festival is over, you can still visit the fields through September: seven days a week from 8 am to 6 pm. Fresh-cut flowers are always available, so you can take huge bouquets to fill your home and give away to friends. Swan Island currently has 40 acres in cultivation with more than 350 varieties of dahlias. This family-owned and operated business is now the country’s largest dahlia grower.

I came late to dahlias. Maybe it was the prim little Pom Pon varieties in pastel colors that fooled me, but that was before I understood Pacific Northwest gardening. I wasFreedom fighter dahlia, swan island dahlias, oregon slow to understand what it would mean in late October or even November, to have a big, assertive, and showy flower willing to bloom boldly in the fading light. When the chickadees were pecking out the last of the seeds of the drooping sunflowers, when all the color was draining meekly out of my perennial beds, the dahlias–tropical in origin and sassy in spirit–would stand against the gray and bloom big until one freezing day, when they would suddenly turn to black, messy rags and be gone.

But until that one day in late autumn, a dahlia will give you its all. And that is something.

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