We're getting close to the first frost when all my dahlias will turn into black mush, but until then we've been enjoying them in the garden and in vases. Above is peachy-cream 'Cafe au Lait,' rightly popular with prolific, big blooms on a stocky plant. The maroon dahlia is 'Karma Choc' with an Angelica purpurea seed head at center.
I love the texture that umbel seed heads add to arrangements, including more Angelica and a green parsley seed head above.
A less mature 'Cafe au Lait' flower is still mostly closed with maroon 'Royal Purple' smoke bush leaves adding contrast.
Dahlias don't continue to develop after cutting. This 'Cafe au Lait' bloom was cut after it had time to mature and open on the plant. I've discovered that heavy dahlia flowers often need sturdy greenery stems to hold them up in an arrangement. The forked stems of my Korean spice Viburnum have been especially helpful with this, as shown here.
After reading that 'Rip City' (above left) is English gardener-extraordinaire Sarah Raven's favorite dahlia, I planted several this spring. But they were crowded by other plants and didn't produce flowers as large and full as expected. As trees mature around the perimeter of my backyard, I have fewer full sun spots without tree root competition. So I'm considering spraying Roundup on my two large 'Twilight Blue' Baptisia plants next spring. They're in prime sunny positions with rich soil, and they produce flowers that are quickly hidden by the foliage and then grow nearly six feet wide by the end of the season. They're taking too much space for plain green foliage and I want more room for dahlias instead.
A final 'Cafe au Lait' bloom is held up by Korean spice stems and joined by parsley and Angelica seed heads. Dahlias are so showy that they make it easy to create lovely arrangements.