‘Princess Marie José’

At last there has been a frost to blacken off the Dahlias in my garden, so I have been out digging up the tubers and putting them into the greenhouse to dry off.  Following a discussion on GQT from Durham in November about overwintering Dahlia I will be doing a trial of the conventional wisdom – cut back the foliage, leave the plants upside down to dry off completely and then store the tubers in dry peat or straw in open slatted trays or baskets – with Bunny Guinness’s suggestion  of not drying them off completely but keeping them in  compost. (Link is to a webcast which will have an expiry date)  As I have several plants from the same parent plant, some of which have been in the ground and some kept in pots, this should be a good test.

In early autumn 2010 one of our members in North Wales rang our office at Loseley to ask what she should do with a rare Dahlia she had been given by the gardeners at Tatton Park.  We suggested that she propagate and share the results in the Annual Plant Exchange.  After some discussion about being too old to do this, the member concerned agreed to give the plants to Mercy when she was up in the area attending a meeting.

Two pots arrived back at Loseley.  Dahlia ‘Princess Marie José’ was on the label and at that time it wasn’t listed in the Plantfinder, so it really was rare.  They were overwintered in my unheated greenhouse and in the spring I started to propagate from them.  Unfortunately only one produced shoots but it was prolific and soon there were 10 offspring from the remaining parent.  Most of the staff in the office were given a plant to care for as well as Michele, one of our Hampton Court Palace Flower Show volunteers who is a great plantswoman.

When planning our display at HCPFS 2011, we decided to take along one of our teenage plants as a talking point and Judith volunteered her robust specimen.  All week visitors to the show commented on the plant and it gave us an opportunity to talk to them about Plant Heritage and our conservation aims.

Dahlia 'Princess Marie José' at Hampton Court 2011

Dahlia National Plant Collection holders, Winchester Growers, now list this plant in the Plantfinder and Jo was talking to Michael Mann of Winchester Growers who told her that he had been inundated with orders for this plant.  People who had seen it on our display?  We will be propagating from our family of plants and putting them into the Annual Plant Exchange, so Plant Heritage members can get one of these plants, free, (subject to availability).

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