Sunday, February 8, 2015

Monet's Dahlias

It is that time again! Buying the year's seeds and tubers is my favorite ritual of the winter Sunday. As it is snowing another 2-5 inches today, I can dream of all the new varieties and changes I want to make in the garden. I have always dreamed of being a serious collector of dahlias, but have not had enough space to give over to a plant that only starts blooming in Maine in mid September. This year though I have a new rototilled area that will be perfect for dahlias and potatoes. This new bed is on the end of the house, near the compost pile and burn pit. Perfect for growing things that may not be beautiful all summer, but need full sun. My love of dahlias started long ago with my seeing my father's friend grow dahlias for shows. I remember his dinner plate varieties all had little umbrellas that he moved with the sun to protect the blooms until the next exhibition. 

Monet's Garden and House at Giverny
But then, it became obsession after visiting Giverny, Monet's spectacular house and gardens in France. Being in France for the months of September and October, all the public gardens were filled with dahlias. I was curious if they had been planted later in the summer from greenhouses. They were the main feature, and if it is anything like here, you would have nothing in bloom the rest of the season. Oh yeah, it is not like here! They probably did have greenhouses growing these plants and they planted them like annual beds. Here are some photos from Monet's collection of dahlias. I don't know any of the varieties, but it was a visual feast!

Monet's Gardens and house are not over rated, if you haven't seen them they are something to try to see. Family, home, gardening, food, and art are the focus of his life at this time in his mature life. Though necessity often dictated his choices of where to live, he dug right in and made Giverny the heart from which to inspire all his work. Gardens, house and collections speak of a life well lived. This understanding of the man permeates how I see his painting. I see what he choose to value and how deeply he immersed himself.
So now to go through my tuber catalogs and find a few new varieties to try. I have last year's tubers in boxes in sawdust in the basement that are already pushing up new growth. Come April I will pot them in pots and then transplant well after frost to the new bed.


  1. I must make it to Giverny!!! Top of the list! Thank you for sharing!!!!

    1. Things will surprise you his incredible collection of Japanese prints just on view in the dining room as they were. But the practical gardens near the house that produce food and flowers for the house are like a cottage garden of epic proportion. So touching. I would figure that early or late in the season would be best, we actually got many photos without other people in them!