Puget Sound Dahlia Association
If you'd like to start growing dahlias, or even if you're already an ardent fan, the Web site to visit is the Puget Sound Dahlia Association. This online guide to growing dahlias is brimming with tips on how to become a successful dahlia grower, plus a tutorial on autumn dahlia digging and winter storage. Links to other dahlia societies, shows, commercial growers, and a photo gallery also are offered.
Favorite or New Plant
For reliable winter color in my perennial bed, I've planted winter iris (Iris unguicularis). The flower buds first appear in October and are produced throughout the winter, opening in flushes during mild spells. The soft violet-colored flowers are nestled in the foliage and, like crocus, form on tubes rather than on stems. The sword-shaped foliage remains evergreen, but I cut it down in March to renew the plant. Winter flowering iris like moderately rich, well-draining soil and a spot that's sunny in winter but shady during the summer months. I often cut unopened flower buds and bring them indoors. When they open, they fill the room with a sweet scent reminiscent of violets.