Gardens Illustrated
Dahlia merckii
© Jason Ingram

Garden designers choose their favourite dahlia

Published: February 20, 2022 at 9:31 am

Three garden designers and landscape architects – Arabella Lennox-Boyd, Ula Maria and Jo Thompson – choose their favourite dahlias for late-season colour.

Arabella Lennox-Boyd

Internationally renowned designer with more than 40 years experience chooses her favourite dahlias.

Advertisement

Dahlia ‘Bishop of Auckland’

Dahlia 'Bishop of Auckland'
© Dorling Kindersley ltd/Alamy

A most elegant, single-flowered dahlia, very prolific and adored by bees and butterflies. I plant it through Anemanthele lessoniana, Agapanthus ‘Midnight Star’ and Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Heavenly Blue’ as if in a meadow. One of the best of the Bishop Series. Flowers: July – September. Height: 1m.

Dahlia ‘Arabian Night’

Dahlia 'Arabian Night'
© Rachel Warne

This dahlia's large, double, velvety dark, burgundy blooms are perfect for mixing in a border. In my own it’s surrounded by Succisa pratensis, Deschampsia and Phlox paniculata ‘Düsterlohe’. The almost black heads add a rich texture to the border. Flowers: June – September. Height: 1.2m.


Ula Maria

Garden designer, landscape architect and illustrator with a deep connection to nature chooses her favourite dahlias.

Dahlia ‘Honka Fragile’

Dahlia 'Honka Fragile'
© Tim Gainey/Alamy

This distinctive star-shaped dahlia with radiating petals that roll inwards at their tips is really striking both in a border and a cut-flower display. The white flowers are delicately edged in pink-red. Never fails to draw attention. Flowers: July – November. Height: 80cm.

Dahlia ‘Waltzing Mathilda’

Dahlia 'Waltzing Matilda'
© John Martin/Alamy

A semi-double dahlia with ever so slightly twisting petals that lend it a more relaxed appeal. Flowers are a wash of orangey coral pink, set off against dark purple brown stems and foliage. I love it nestled among large clumps of airy ornamental grasses. AGM. Flowers: July – November. Height: 70cm.


Jo Thompson

Award-winning garden designer, and plantswoman with a love of romantic planting chooses her favourite dahlias below.

Dahlia ‘Lilac Time’

Dahlia, 'Lilac Time'
© Peter D Anderson/ Alamy

A magnificent yet neat dinner-plate dahlia in shades of pinkish-lilac-blue. It is quite restrained and exudes self-control – I like to grow it with unruly Gaura to create a yin and yang contrast that relaxes the whole feel. Flowers: June – October. Height: 1.1m.

Dahlia ‘Purple Gem’

Dahlia 'Purple Gem'
© Gksflorapics/Alamy

A regal dahlia, cactus in form and looking at home in many colour combinations in the border. Hints of deep lilac-blue at the centre of the flowers, becoming lighter along the petals, make this a very useful cultivar both in the border and in a vase. Flowers: July – September. Height: 1m.

Dahlia merckii

Dahlia merckii
© Jason Ingram

So restrained, so elegant – single flowers of palest mother-of -pearl pink with muted yellow centres. The flowers sit high atop the tall stems and nod gently, a very lovely punctuation in the border. Unlike most dahlias, it is fairly hardy in the UK. Flowers: July – September. Height: 1.5m.

Where to buy dahlias

Halls of Heddon
West Heddon Nursery,
Heddon on the Wall,
Newcastle upon Tyne NE15 0JS. Tel 01661 852445,
hallsofheddon.com

J Parkers
16 Hadfield Street, Stretford,
Manchester M16 9FG. Tel 0161 848 1100,
jparkers.co.uk

Peter Nyssen
124 Flixton Road, Urmston,
Manchester M41 5BG. Tel 0161 747 4000,
peternyssen.com

Advertisement

Sarah Raven
1 Woodstock Court, Blenheim Road,
Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 4AN. Tel 0345 092 0283,
sarahraven.com

Authors

Listed by House & Garden, Country & Town House and Country Life magazines as one of the country’s top ten garden designers and plantswomen, Jo has won multiple awards, including four Gold medals for RHS Chelsea Flower Show gardens

Ula Maria is a designer and landscape architect with a particular interest in creating emotive garden spaces that evoke connections to nature through memories, senses, and experiences.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content