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.
Lisa at Greenbow
Dahlias for hot nights? I didn’t know there was such a thing. I will look for them. I have grown Bishop of Llandaff and I can attest it is easy and performs well even in part sun. I too am incorporating more natives into the garden. That naughty dog. I think you are brave to still be growing roses what with the rosette disease and naughty dogs in the way. Isn’t it odd how a dog will pick a spot and absolutely aggravate whatever is growing in that spot. I always wonder what it is that makes them keep at it even when we are so displeased with their actions.
Hi Lisa, it is funny he chose this spot because I fertilize the roses all with the same things, Mills Magic Rose Mix. The ingredients might be tempting to him. He’s a hound so every smell is tempting, but he dug in this spot over and over. Maybe there was a mole or vole down there? I’ll never know. Rose Rosette has left my garden for the time being, and I began planting a few roses here and there. We’ll see it if rears its ugly head again.
I found you last year. Wonderful find! Thank you the wonderful story about your grandmother. Sweet memories forever. I love dahlias too! What a delight to see them grow.
Hi Mabel! Thank you for finding me and reading. I so appreciate it. Yes, I still love my sweet and smart grandmother very, very much, and now, I’m a grandmother too, so the whole thing has come full circle.
Your comments about your grandma brought tears to my eyes!
It’s funny you should mention that Sharon. I read the post to my daughter just fine, but later I read it to Bill and got all choked up. I do miss my grandmothers very much.
I love the story of your grandmother and your wish to see her again in paradise. I’ll be checking out the Dahlia’s for Hot nights article. I’m in Durham, NC.
Hi Carol, lucky for you, you also have more humidity which will help. The man who wrote the article lives in Georgia. I still grow mine in sheltered spots.~~Dee
I too love your family names!! There must be creativity running through your veins. 🙂
I don’t have any dahlias and just might need to find a place for them. We’ve been working on our little plot of land for three summers now. It’s time to add some plants that are new to us.
Hi Stacy, dahlias are kind of hard. I’d say put them on the east side of the house where our summer sun won’t burn them up. I hope you have an exciting year planting your plot this year! Three summers means things are just getting good.~~Dee
I love Grandma Nita’s apron and your sweet memories. My biggest gardening memories are from my own parents. What a fantastic legacy to pass on!
Hi Jennifer, I’m so glad I have a few photos of her. I always remember her reading, cooking, and gardening. I also trace my love of reading back to her. ~~Dee
Oh I love all those wonderful family names! What a sweet picture you paint of your Grandma. I had a wonderful Granny who loved to garden and always had a beautiful hedge of azaleas and the best veggie garden. She lived in Florida and it was always a treat to visit after moving away. I’m glad to see that you have had success with Dahlias..I have tried and they don’t do well for me, but maybe I should try again and plant the varities you named. I can’t wait for Spring to get here!
Hi Sonia, I love hearing your story about your Granny. Dahlias aren’t easy to grow, and I’ve had limited success, but these varieties are easier. I would say ‘Bishop of Llandaff is the easiest. ~~Dee