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New Plants - A Tea Bush and More Dahlias

Hello friends,

Yes, I've been buying more plants, and I know I don't have anyone to blame but myself.

I've been looking to buy a Camellia sinensis bush, aka the plant Tea comes from, ever since we moved back to Dunedin. I've always wanted to grow, process, and then drink my own tea. Except I've never found the plant for sale at all in my many trips to local garden centers over the past four years. It finally came to the point that I started looking online, and luckily I found that The Plant Store did indeed stock them. So I handed over the expensive shipping fee, and within a week my new tea plant arrived. It's not very big at the moment, but it's now happily sitting in the area of the garden where my fruit trees live. I'm hoping in the coming years that I can indeed enjoy a cup of my own tea.

I also have recently bought two more dahlia plants...and they arrived by courier this week. Yes, I have no where to grow them at the moment, but I will squeeze them in somewhere I'm sure. I totally blame the email from Bulbs Direct which arrived in my inbox last week. They had just restocked their most popular dahlia bulbs, and I managed to get two of the dahlias that I missed out on earlier this year.

The first one is dinner plate dahlia Arthur Hambley:

And the second one is dinner plate dahlia Cafe De Paris, a sport of Cafe Au Lait:

I also wanted the dahlia bulb Cafe Au Lait Royal to add to my collection of Cafe Au Lait dahlias, but it had sold out in the minute between the email arriving, and me getting onto the website. Maybe next year I'll get one...

Have you been plant shopping recently? I'd love to know what plant goodies you've picked up.

Have a wonderful day


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Planting my new GardenPost Dahlias

Hello friends,

My dahlia pre-order finally arrived from GardenPost a couple of weeks ago. I ordered three dahlia varieties from them back at the beginning of June, and I had been impatiently waiting for them to arrive since then.


Lavender Perfection:


After taking them out of their courier box, the instructions on the bags said to plant them straight away.

I dug all their planting holes in various parts of the garden according to my dahlia planting plan I had scribbled on a post it note months ago, and then opened up all of the bags.

All the dahlias came with healthy looking growing shoots at the tip, and there were a number of healthy tubers inside, with no sign of rot or disease. The only thing left to do was to plant them in the ground. The instructions on the bag said to plant them 5 - 10 cm below ground level, so after checking that would be the case for each dahlia planting hole, I carefully covered the dahlias over, taking care to not damage the shoots, and then I labelled each of their positions.

I still have another dahlia pre-order waiting to arrive from Bulbs Direct, but they haven't sent out their pre-orders yet.

I am looking forward to them sprouting, growing, and then flowering over the coming months.

Have a wonderful day


Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon.

First Frost of 2023

Hello friends,

It feels like I've been waiting for our first frost forever. After our long, hot summer, a brief cool snap at the beginning of March signaled the beginning of autumn for us. By that time our Japanese maple tree had already begun changing colour to a brilliant vermilion red, and began losing its leaves.

Our dahlias started to look very straggly, and looked even worse after being neglected while I recovered from surgery. I've been waiting impatiently for a frost to take them out, so that I could cut back all the growth in preparation for winter, and make the gardens a little tidier. But up until now even though we had some mornings that hovered around 2˚C, no frost had appeared.

After checking my garden diaries for the first frost date over the last five years, it looked like our first frost wouldn't be likely until early to mid-May.

2019 - 6th April

2020 - 17th May

2021 - 6th May

2022 - 27th May

April passed by, and then the beginning of May. Every morning I looked out our bedroom window, hoping for frosty roofs, and sparkly grass out on our street. But up until now I've been out of luck.

It was chilly this morning, but when I checked our weather station's live data we were sitting at 1.7˚C, so I thought we were out of luck. Hubby went out for his daily run, and when he came back he reported seeing frosty patches on the grass around the neighbourhood. So I checked our weather station graphs, and we did have a frost overnight. The temperature outside went below 0˚C at around 5 am, and dropped to a low of -0.8˚C for over an hour. The wind got up at 6.30 am, and the frost was over.

A quick inspection outside, and I found patches of frost in the vege garden and grass.

After waiting impatiently all day for frost damage to appear on all my dahlias, I was disappointed, my dahlia foliage are all still green and healthy. It looks like I'll have to wait longer for another frost to take them out.

I'm a patient person, but I'm also a perfectionist, and the sight of my dahlias looking so scruffy in my garden is beginning to get on my nerves...

Have a wonderful day


Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon.

My Decorative and Dinner Plate Dahlias

Hello Friends,

Today I wanted to share with you the rest of my beloved dahlias. As you already know from a previous blog post, I have an obsession with anemone and collarette dahlias—but I also totally adore the big boys of the dahlia world, the decorative and dinner plate dahlias too. These dahlias are the ones you'll pay big money for, and you will also have to compete with thousands of other dahlia lovers in New Zealand to buy tubers before stocks run out.

Cafe Au Lait is the most popular of all dahlias, for both home and commercial growers alike. They are the dahlia that everyone wants in their wedding bouquets. They are probably the most expensive dahlia tuber to buy, and also the hardest one to come across. It took me three years before I could buy a Cafe Au Lait tuber, and the year I finally got it, I actually ended up with two after ordering from two different suppliers.

The big players in the dahlia tuber world are Bulbs Direct, NZ Bulbs, and also Garden Post. They are online suppliers for all the plant bulbs and tubers you could ever want, and their orders are pre-orders for the up coming season. In mid to late winter if you are signed up for their newsletters, an email will arrive telling you that dahlia tubers are available for pre-order. If you're after a Cafe Au Lait Dahlia, don't hesitate, just go immediately to the website and order straight away. Popular dahlias can sell out within minutes of the email arriving in your inbox. For the first three years of trying, this is how I missed out in getting a Cafe Au Lait dahlia of my very own.

Their flowers are as big as your hand, and the flowers can vary from a delicate cream, all the way to an almost purpleish hue. I've been growing them now for a number of years, and I've discovered they aren't the easiest dahlias to grow. They aren't the strongest growers, and they require more water than other dahlias.

The next dinner plate dahlia I own is Cafe Au Lait Twist. It was released in New Zealand in 2022, and I was lucky to get one in the first season. Cafe Au Lait Twist is a sport of Cafe Au Lait, but it has curvy petals, with beautiful pink splashes through the Cafe Au Lait coffee colour. Cafe Au Lait Twist is overall a very pretty dahlia, and I actually prefer it to Cafe Au Lait.

The third dahlia in the Cafe Au Lait family that I own, is Cafe Au Lait Rosė. This dahlia was also released for the first time in New Zealand in 2022. The flowers are absolutely beautiful, a bright, but also a delicate, rose pink. The shade is darker as the flower opens, but turns into a lighter ombrė shade as the flower gets older. In all truth, Cafe Au Lait Rosė is my new favorite dahlia. I love to go out in the garden and just look at it. The plant is strong and sturdy, and definitely worth buying.

The next dinner plate dahlia I own is Dahlia Penhil Watermelon. The curved petal flowers are absolutely huge, and much bigger than your hand. The flower is a mix of peach, lavender and the tiniest hint of yellow. Because of the very large size of the flowers, the flower stalks I've found aren't strong enough to hold the flower heads upright. Dahlia Penhil Watermelon, is still a very pretty plant though.

My next dinner plate dahlia I own is Penhil Dark Monarch. Another huge dahlia, it's thin, but gently curved petals are a beautiful smoky plum colour with hints of yellow. It's another one of my favorite dahlias.

My next dahlia is a cactus dahlia called Orfeo. Although the berry red colour is quite stunning, the plant itself isn't strong enough to hold up its own flowers. It has to be staked upright, or else it falls on the ground.

And my last big dahlia in my garden is Dahlia Pink Magic. I also bought this dahlia in 2022. I love the delicate pink stripes on the cream base colour. It's probably one of my most demure dahlias in terms of colouring. Because it was a long hot summer in the garden because of drought like La Nina conditions, I didn't get many flowers, but hopefully I'll get more next year.

So that's all the big dahlias that I currently have in my garden. I don't have the space to add anymore dahlias into my garden, but you never know, if another beautiful and perfect dahlia comes along, I may have to squeeze it into one of my garden beds.

Have a wonderful day,


Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon.

Gardening - My Anemone and Collarette Dahlias

Hello friends,

Today I thought I'd share with you all the anemone and collarette dahlias dotted around my garden. Now that we're in autumn it's only a matter of time before the first frost of the season hits them, and the flowers and plants die down for the winter season.

My first introduction to dahlias was by my Aunt, who was a big dahlia collector when I was growing up. I remember many happy weekend afternoons following both, her and my grandfather around their back garden as they worked, and admiring my aunt's many dahlias. I thought they were big and beautiful, and wished for some of my own one day.

I started collecting dahlias myself when we were living in Wellington. I came upon a bedraggled dahlia tuber sitting in a bag at a garden store, and took it home in order to rescue it, and gave it a new home. That dahlia was Dahlia Lucky Number.

Dahlia Lucky Number is a big dahlia, measuring over 1.5 m tall and is a prolific flowerer, with hot pink flowers the size of a dinner plate. Because it is a collarette dahlia, with the heart of the flower exposed, it is very popular with both bees and butterflies. In truth, it is one of my favorite dahlias.

It wasn't long before I picked up another dahlia, this time the Keith Hammett bred (he's a New Zealand breeder) Dahlia Mystic Sparkler. Mystic Sparkler is another collarette dahlia, and has beautiful dark foliage which shows off the hot pink and yellow flowers. This dahlia is also attractive to birds and bees as well. This dahlia is compact, and grows well in pots and planters.

When we moved back to Dunedin in October 2019, my dahlias had already arrived ahead of me. The winter of 2019, I had dug up all my dahlias, trimmed them, and couriered them down to my sister in Dunedin, where she put them into her garden for the upcoming summer season. Once we had found a home down there, and after the summer season (and the first Covid 19 lock down), we dug all my dahlia tubers up, and I took them home to plant in the ground.

But meanwhile, in October 2019 after we had moved into our home, I couldn't resist picking up another Keith Hammett dahlia from the garden store, and planting it in my front garden. Dahlia Mystic Enchantment is a dahlia related to Mystic Sparkler. Mystic Enchantment has the same characteristics of Dahlia Mystic Sparkler, except it has florescent orange flowers, and is an anemone dahlia. Bees are also attracted to its flowers, and the plant is a very prolific flowerer.

More recently I've picked up another Keith Hammett Dahlia, this time the collarette dahlia, Protegee. It has the same dark foliage as Mystic Sparkler and Mystic Enchantment, but it's flowers are bright pink in the middle, surrounded by a lighter pink.

And another Keith Hammett Collarette dahlia I've also acquired recently is Dahlia Home Run. It has pretty, bright pink flowers, and adds nicely to my ever growing collection of Keith Hammett dahlias.

And as if I couldn't get enough of Keith Hammett's dahlias, he has a website where you can buy seed packets containing dahlias seeds from his breeding experiments. Each seed will give rise to a dahlia that has never been seen before. You will never know what you will get. I've bought seeds from his Beeline, Beeline II, and Sunflower collections, and sprinkled them around my garden. The photos below show the variation I've gotten so far from my seed sowing.

I have many more Keith Hammett dahlia seeds stored away, so who knows what colours I will get in the years to come as I sow more seed. But these aren't my only dahlias, I also have a number of stunning dinner plate and decorative dahlias also, and I will show you those as well in the coming weeks.

If you are new to dahlias, and are unsure how to look after some of you own, I really recommend the book, Discovering Dahlias, by Erin Benzakein. It contains detailed information on looking after dahlias, and has many great photographic examples on how to do things like dividing dahlias etc.

Autumn, is certainly settling in down here in the deep south, the nights are getting longer and cooler, and trees are starting to change colour. As I am having sinus surgery late next week, the next week in the garden will be very busy for me, getting jobs done before I will be recovering for the next three weeks after that. I have spring bulb orders arriving soon, and I would like to get them in the ground as soon as possible, otherwise hubby will have to do them for me, which should be fun...

Have a wonderful day,


Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon.

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