top of page

Dreaming of Dahlias

Dahlia 'Ivanetti'

One of the most dazzling, delightful and decorative garden flowers are Dahlias. Truly a must have for any garden. And so many flower shapes and colors to choose from, it’s mind boggling. There are lower growing Dahlias that can be grown as a border or as part of the garden bed.

There are progressively larger flowers that are literally the size of 10” dinner plates. Some range from ball and pom-pom shape to cactus style flowers with spiky flower petals.There are anemone style flowers with tight rows of petals surrounded by larger outer petals. Dahlias are great as center pieces in a garden bed, or in a container planting.

There is a wonderful place to see these garden beauties every year. In late in summer through early fall at the William Wolkoff Dahila Garden

at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River, NY.

It's the perfect place to learn about and fall in love with Dahilas.

Recently, I caught up with Joe Lysik, Garden Director at the

arboretum’s Dahlia Garden.

Dahlia 'Holly Hill Cotton Candy'

“William Wolkoff is 90 years old, and see that step garden over there?” Joe pointed to a series of raised wooden garden beds filled with Dahlia’s, “He built that addition this year.”

Nineteen years ago William Wolkoff embarked on building the Dahlia garden behind the carriage house at the Arboretum, and today at 90 years old he continues to advise and expand the garden.

Remarkable for sure, the entire space is filled with raised garden beds holding the most spectacular exhibit of Dahlia flowers. These glorious flowers are tended by a small group of Dahlia devotees that belong to the Long Island Dahlia group.

“We meet year round, with a break at Christmas holiday. There’s always something to do.” Joe explained. Caring for the Dahlia’s in the growing season, keeping them free from pests, well watered, staked and pruned is a full time job.

In the off-season lifting the plants and sorting their tubers begins another set of tasks. William Wolkoff invented a collapsible greenhouse that the group erects near the entrance, This space is used to grow and pot up cuttings of the Dahlias and care for the tubers too. “We clean the tubers and make sure they are in good shape all through the winter. At planting time, in April and May, we sell the tubers to other garden clubs and to the public.”

Joe showed me some great tips on thinning out the plants to improve air circulation, encourage more blooms to keep the Dahlia's healthy. 'We started out with 400 different varieties of Dahlia's here. But I've weaned it down to 225. I look for Dahlia's that are consistent bloomers and most productive. I keep up with the 'Fabulous Fifty' list from the national clubs, and try to get some of those in our garden."

Check out the last Dahlia Show and Photography Show of the season, on Saturday & Sunday, October 5-6th, 2019 is at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum.

Folks compete in photography show from all over the eastern seaboard. Best of all you’ll catch the last flush of Dahlia flowers this year.

Check out their website at

Here’s a look at some of the varieties on display at the garden:

Dahlia 'Bonaventure', Dahlia 'Nick Sr.', Dahlia 'Wildwood Marie' and Dahlia 'Clyde's Choice'

Stunning right? Let us know if there is a dazzling Dahlia must-have for your garden next year!

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
bottom of page