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In reply to comments on my Dahlia blog.


By teegee


Thanks Scrumpygrat (Graham)and others for your comments!

Graham; You asked why did I give up?

It’s a long story, so I thought I would make my reply into a ‘blog’ and add to my profile data at the same time, I hope you don’t mind.

I gave up for health reasons, apparently I had had a heart attack when I thought I had indigestion on Good Friday 1997, the result was;

I was rushed into hospital ( what a way to spend Easter)

It was put down to high blood pressure, and I was advised to alter my ways, which is easier said than done.

By this time my cuttings were progressing nicely and I didn’t want to stop growing and showing as it was something I loved doing.

So I decided that, that year, would be my last year showing, so I decided to pull out all the stops, and go for it, at all my usual local shows.

I never ever entered at ‘National’ level but I was competing at a local level with ‘National’ growers and invariably I usually came off second best. ;o((

I was a member of The North of England Dahlia society (NEDA) and entered their shows, where just to get a ticket was an achievement, and I was lucky enough to get a few.

Show preparation;

Well as you will well know, preparing for a show is quite demanding, and the buzz you get, can raise the blood pressure substantially and this is why I felt I had to give up.

Anyway, show time came round, and I entered everything I could fit in.

Some weekends I was fitting in three shows, which takes some planning and effort.

Luckily the effort paid off, and I won the NEDA shield for the ‘Championship class’ at my local Chrysanthemum & Dahlia society, something I had been after for a few years.

I also went on to win another seven trophies that year, so you could say ‘I went out on a high’

Ironically the following year when I had to return the trophies I saw three miniature balls in the garden that I felt would win at any show, so I took them to the ‘Parks show’( this is run by the council and is the biggest show in the area.)

I made sure I entered them into a non-trophy class to ensure that by winning a trophy I wouldn’t be tempted back to growing and showing. ;o))

When I visited the show, after judging, I found that they had won their class, but beggar me! what I didn’t know was, that the ‘show secretary’ selects an exhibit that he thinks is ‘best cut flower exhibit in show’ and what did he pick?

Yes! you have guessed it, he picked my miniature balls, so in the end; I finished up with another trophy without even trying. ;o))

( sorry for the quality of the picture)

But no it didn’t tempt me back, I just grew a few for pleasure and cut flowers.

Your pictures;

I looked at your pictures and the memories just flooded back to me, it was lovely!

I love your set up!

I have to ask the question; what does your wife think of all your time being taken up by growing flowers and veg, along with taking over the front and back garden , at least with me it was only the back garden ;o))

Then at show time when you take over the kitchen, then the utility room in preparation for the show, she must have something to say about that, I know my wife did! ;o))

Many people really don’t know what is involved when you take a hobby as seriously as I did, and as I see you do.

I recall that I used to start my preparations on Tuesday or Wednesday for the following Saturdays and it could be quite stressful and play havoc with the blood pressure.

I recall one year at this time I invented the term “Wednesday flowers”

To explain; These were the flowers that were either ready for showing the Wednesday before the show or wouldn’t be ready until the Wednesday after the show.

The things I did to alter this situation were mad really!

Flowers that were ready before time, were cut and placed in deep tubs of water in a cold darkened garage, to prevent them growing anymore.

Those that were not going to be ready in time were cut possibly Wednesday/Thursday, placed on the dining room table, then I would turn up the heating in that room, leave the lights on all the time then I would close the door.

Those flowers that were at in between stages were often left on the plants until the last minute then cut and taken to the show within a few hours of judging.

As an aside; Something happened this morning that reminded me of another phase of my ‘growing’ career, and that is; before I started growing Dahlias I grew and exhibited Chrysanthemums.

As I mentioned above I was a member of the local Chrysant and Dahlia society, I joined this because I wanted to grow Chrysants well.

A few years later I started growing Dahlias, for the simple reason; we were a Chrysant & Dahlia society and had no Dahlia growers in the society, so I thought I would remedy that.

That didn’t half get the banter going, with expressions like;

“A Dahlia grower is a failed Chrysant grower”

although I have heard it the other way round as well! ;o))

Well would you believe it;this morning, I have been given two dozen disbud and spray chrysanthemum plants from a fellow plot holder I gave stock to many years ago.

His comments were; I have these spare plants, do you want them? I don’t want to put them in the plant sale for people with no idea on how to grow them, so I would prefer it if you had them, which I thought was a nice gesture!

But my guess is; there is an ulterior motive behind this action and that is;

When I gave him his first plants I did it firstly to help him, and secondly as an insurance that If I were to lose my stock for whatever reason I knew where I could replace it, so I guess he is doing the same!

I used to do the same with my Dahlia stock, for the simple reason; when buying in new stock I was always wary if it would be virused, so I would grow this new stock in a different bed from my original stock until I was sure it was virus free.

I like your covered area, my one was not quite as elaborate as that.

My frame was more like a car port with ‘novolux’ corrugated panels on the roof and a ‘rokolene’
windbreak around the sides. I would put the covers up just as the calyxes broke and I could see colour.

After die back I would remove them and place in store till next year.

You can see the remanats of my frame here, the ‘novalux’ sheets are now part of the greenhouse roof (recycled)

Your hinged panels must make this chore much easier and quicker….I like them.

I wish you luck with your new ‘sport’ and I know what you mean about colour breaks.

I often think when I see a primrose sport of a yellow parent, is it a sun bleached yellow? or is it indeed a colour break?

I find it is often the same with many hobby plants, e.g. Chrysants, Fuchsias and Narcissus where there is only a subtle colour change.

I really enjoyed viewing your set up and your onion beds.

BTW; One thing that I have not seen on the show bench in my neck of the woods is ‘a string of onions’ I have seen the truss of tomatoes but not a string of onions, must keep that one in mind.

Must be a bit of a pain to judge!

Well that’s it I think? I seem to have rambled on long enough, at least you know a bit more about me now ;o))

ttfn Tg

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Hi, Only just found this reply.
I think we are identical twins.....everything you mention i've been through, except the heart attack. No one knows they have high blood pressure until it strikes, but at least you seem to have got over it well.
In my case, i reckon the gardening keeps my blood pressure down. I do it for relaxation more than anything now. Always high pressure stress for me at work, so i need my shed and greenhouse to wind down.
Even though i grow for Shrewsbury show only now ( though i may as i said put the sport in the nationals) i do it for the enjoyment it gives to the public, not to win prizes.....though i must admit it's nice to win to pick up the prize money, which keeps the wife happy as she gets about £150 each year to spend at the show :)
I used to be obsessed with winning but not any more. So really, there is no stress or panic involved. In fact, i'm more excited when my carrots or onions or tomatoes win than the dahlias and sweet peas.

As i said, it's the publics comments when they see my dahlias that make it all worthwhile, and i know that quite a few people from back home in Leominster always make a bee line to see what i've put in each year. That's why i've changed my growing habits completely, so instead of the textbook winners everyone grows at the nationals, you know the ones:) i go for loads of different varieties... aiming for 25 this year. Personally, i think some of them are better than the Dianes and Kiwis and Charlies and Pastelles, but these judges seem to think that because it's a Kiwi it has to be the best. Certainly the public think differently. My winholme diane always win, yet last year everyone loved Barbarry Melody which i think is the nicest colour and form i've seen in a dahlia. Just a fraction small maybe for a small dec, but i'll try and get it bigger this year as the plants i have are 10 times better than last year.
Same with medium decs. White Charlie Two always wins, yet last year i had 3 Ryecroft Rebel on show that everyone loved.

You've certainly got some big greenhouses there. I only have an 8ft 10" square one, so it gets pretty congested.
But i have made fold down staging inside top and bottom so i reckon it's equivalent early season to a greenhouse double the size.

Anyway, must get back to the watering. I've planted out about half of the dahlias today as the heat is drying them up to quickly in the pots. Will finish 90% of them tomorrow. A few of the new varieties are a bit behind and need potting on, but otherwise i'm pleased with this years plants.

PS, your website is amazing, can i advertise it on the garden forum i use

Lots of dahlia topics on there. Also, if you know Derek Brookes, there is his diary to read. He's amazing for his age too.


26 May, 2012


How wondeful of you both to be so unselfish as to share your growing secrets with us. I was show secretary of our wee village show off and on for over 25 years. It was manic and I had to stop because we just could not get the help needed but we went out on a high. Our judges were brilliant and did not mind that we were a small show. Two of our show champions went on to win Show Champion in a neighbouring show with much more experienced exhibitors and they would not even have thought of growing to show if we had not had our event. At the last show we had over 350 exhibits to stage between 9am and 10.30am. We made it just before the judges appeared. I miss it very much but I could not have continued to cope with the million and one jobs that fell to me to do. I would have given you the Best in Show for those pompoms Teegee. They are quite exquisite.

31 May, 2012

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