It’s Dahlia Time Again at Double Decker Farm

If you see cars swerving in downtown Sandpoint or in the Selle Valley around September, there just may be a roadside dahlia spotting involved. They’re that astounding. 

Tall and stately, crowned with colorful mopheads of eye-catching petals, dahlias take up space in the most pleasing way at harvest time.

Dahlias are flamboyant and almost always get a reaction from anyone paying any attention.

They are the flowers (ahem) some people get addicted to and grow for their whole lives.

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother: The Lifting

And most of all, dahlias are phoenixes, proving Nature’s power and resilience. 

To see what I mean, you have to understand that dahlia tubers need to be properly stored. That’s called lifting and it does take some doing, but it’s not that big of a deal if you plan it out. And really, plants are spectacular as dahlias are bound to require some work . . .

I say this now because it has been a year since I was outside in hand-numbing cold trying to shovel up dozens of robust, four-foot-tall plants with no inkling of slowing their growth and continuing to pack on feet of sturdy vegetation with no regrets. In the pouring rain.

Dahlias have no idea that winter is coming soon. You see, they never see it – they’re snowbirds who just fly in for summer when the weather is relatively warm and stable and get fawned over. 

The Original Mothers of Reinvention

Dahlias rest for months in the garage, dormant and humble, lying on their meager bed of dry soil, asking nothing. Sometimes they are there from October until about April and sometimes early May depending on weather conditions (and whatever other garden demands I need to attend to).

‘Go ahead,’ they say, ‘we’re cool just lying here with no food or water for a good part of the year while you have Thanksgiving — then Christmas and Hannukah — and even after you’ve polished off the basket of foil-wrapped chocolate easter eggs. ‘When you’re ready to plant us again, we’ll be here for you.’

And then they will again blow your mind come September, reinventing themselves in every color, shape and size.

All dahlias ask for is some bone meal, some sturdy stakes and patience. They give so much beauty with so very little. 

Paying Tribute to the Dahlia OG

Today, I want to thank Jim Armbruster for his generosity. When he shared his dahlias with my mom and I years ago (and every year since) he wanted to share the beauty of the flowers and the joy of gardening that we three have in common. 

He’s pure of heart — little did he know that he was starting a sort of Dahlia Madness in me. What? Gardening and collecting combined?! Um, yes please.

Double Decker dahlias are proof that Jim is a generous and true pal, intent on making the world better, one tuber at a time. 

For me, his gift was like a stake holding up the weight of my messy world, providing beauty when I really needed it — and most of all, believing that renewed joy could come again next year.

Jim Armbruster consistently gives to others and asks very little. A lot like . . . dahlias.

I really admire that. He says it helps him and I believe him, but then he always goes the extra mile for people, too, cultivating beauty.

I have taken Jim’s example and started to emulate him by giving dahlias to those I care for.

My family and the friends in my Pilates class have been able to take some starts the last couple of years and I am pretty sure it has multiplied joy.

“We rise by lifting others.”

~ Robert Ingersoll