This week’s Gardenangelists podcast is about garden inspiration and plantswomen.
In the episode, Carol and I talk about dahlias and my gardening grandmother, Juanita. We also discuss Jennifer Jewell’s fabulous book, The Earth in Her Hands: 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants. We felt like her book was so powerful we devoted our entire episode to it and to two women we either know personally, Ms. Ira Wallace and a floral designer we admire, Ms. Sarah Raven.
A few years ago, I was perusing the online catalog of Old House Gardens, and under dahlias for hot nights, it listed ‘Juanita.’ Well, I had to have it. My grandmother who first walked the garden path with me when I was so little I could look down and see those 1960s baby shoes, was named Edith Juanita, and no, we don’t have Hispanic parentage.
I don’t know how her name came about. My father’s maternal family was quite creative in naming their family members. Another sister, my aunt, was named Precious Jewel because that’s what her mother exclaimed when she saw her for the first time. That mother? She was Texas Lily.
Grandma Nita was the light of my young life, and I followed her everywhere in the garden. I hope that she stills sees me, and we will one day walk through the gardens of paradise again.
Until then, I have more ‘Juanita’ dahlias to buy. Check out Old House Gardens for heirloom bulbs including ‘Juanita.’ Today, I also ordered a couple of heirloom irises, ‘Eleanor Roosevelt’ and ‘Alcazar.’ As I mature as a gardener, I find I’m much more interested in heirloom and native plants. Of course, I still like the latest thing in roses. Disease resistance in Oklahoma is key if you want to grow roses. I need to order a David Austin rose to replace my ‘Thomas a Becket’ that is nearly dead. This is the one that Pup Francis dug up several times last spring. Bad dog!
One thing to remember about dahlias is they naturally grow in the mountains of Mexico so they prefer cooler nights. Check out the Old House Gardens article ‘Dahlias for Hot Nights.’ Dahlias also need to be mulched because their roots like it cool. I’ve had good luck with ‘Bishop of Llandaff,’ ‘Prince Noir,’ and ‘Thomas Edison.’ I haven’t tried some of the other varieties listed.
I hope you’re getting your seeds planted. If you need some help, check out my blog post starting tomato seeds in Oklahoma.