FLOWER POWER: Swan Island Dahlias

A couple of years ago, with great trepidation, I planted my first vegetable garden.  While I realize that gardening is hardly rocket science, this was a huge step as #1) I hate yard work and #2) I am a plant killer. We started with a small raised bed garden, which I highly recommend if you are a new (plant murdering) gardener like me.
After harvesting buckets of tomatoes, snap peas, strawberries, cucumbers, and carrots,  I was hooked.  And I was (almost) ready to move on to new territory: flowers….
Since moving in, our yard has been a work in progress.  We’ve tackled the projects on our own, with the help of our dream team: Matt’s sister and her wonderful husband.  My sister-in-law is a little pioneer woman at heart and it was her idea to convert this large (insert: awkward and useless) peninsula of grass into a cutting garden.  I loved the “idea” of growing flowers, but the reality of it sent shivers down my spine.  It took me a while to shake off memories of the dead drooping peonies in my previous yard.
One thing stood in the way of our (well…MY) dreams of freshly cut flower bouquets: sod.  My husband helped me to rip out the existing sod, a task that he found delightful–as evidenced by the picture above.  After that, he warned, I was on my own.
Left with a clean slate, I began to have panic attacks over what to do with it.  My friend suggested that I plant Dahlias and introduced me to Swan Island Dahlias.  It didn’t take long for me to become ADDICTED.  With names like: Gay Princess, Boogie Nights, Tutti Frutti, and Bed Head, I could hardly tear myself away from their website.  The best part is that they deliver the dahlia tubers to your doorstep, complete with growing instructions, and they guarantee them.
I also wanted to plant Zinnias and found the following varieties from Renee’s Garden: Granny’s Bouquet, Raggedy Ann, and dwarf Thumbelinas.  They are so easy to grow from seed and their blooms come back over and over again.
To avoid having a huge dirt patch after growing season, I also planted lavender, purple cone flower, and black eyed susan perennials.  Here they are all planted (you can click on the images to enlarge them):
Now, GROW…GROW…GROW!!!!!!!

Drum roll…….
Introducing: Raggedy Ann, Granny’s Bouquet, and Thumbelina Zinnias:
Gay Princess Dahlias:
We filled vase after vase all summer long….magical.
Boogie Nights Dahlias:
 Bed Head and Boogie Nights Dahlias mixed with  Raggedy Ann Zinnias:
The blooms have been going strong, clear into NOVEMBER!
Dahlias mixed with Chrysanthemums from Kings Mums:
LOVE.  I have literally had a love affair with these flowers.  I may have even cried a little when it came time to take some of them out of the ground.  But….I am already fantasizing about next summer’s crop.  Sigh….

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