The Garden of
Mr. Alan Fisher

Membership Chairman
The American Dahlia Society
1 Rock Falls Ct.
Rockville, MD 20854
TEL: 202-326-3516
email: afisherads@hotmail.com

These pictures were provided to us by Mr. Alan Fisher. We found that they offer some good ideas for dahlia gardens and asked his permission to display them here. The pictures were taken about three to four weeks from peak blooming time. We liked the pictures because they provided clear illustrations of the frame work for his shade cloth, and a good example of terracing.

The shade cloth is attached to pressure treated posts that are sunk 4 feet deep in the soil. The shade cloth in the photo at the right is about 9 to 10 feet high. Alan would prefer the shade cloth to be at a height of about 12 feet so he is having the one in this picture raised about 2.5 feet. He has also added an additional set of timbers to the terracing and is providing steps to ease access to this plot.

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This is a closer view of the plot described above.

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This plot adjoining the garage is south facing. An additional level of timbers has been added to raise the bed.

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Alan uses three sizes of stakes--6,7,and 8 feet. He purchases umbrellas from an umbrella factory. They sell "seconds" in the range of $2 to $5 each plus shipping, depending on the type of umbrella. He uses in excess of 50 umbrellas around the eight days that the shows are held in his area. He ties the umbrellas to the stakes--2 or 3 ties per umbrella. The stake is then pushed into the ground at a location that protects the blooms while they open.

The philosophy behind the use of the umbrellas is to protect the bloom from spotting and bearding. Many varieties will spot if the sun reaches them while the bloom is wet. Dark colors--red, dark red, purple--burn when the sun hits a wet spot. Light colors--white and yellow--surprisingly, also burn easily. We get heavy dews in the mornings and then strong sun. This combination will mark most blooms without umbrellas. Rain tends to elongate petals (bearding), and leftover rain water will spot the bloom if the sun emerges. Heavy rain can also make some petals look almost transparent.

Even without rain or dew, the sun will fade some colors. This varies from variety to variety. For example, the color of Jessica is better in full sun than in shade, while Kidd's Climax benefits from shade.

Shade also elongates stems. I prefer dahlias with short stems, because I can shade them and lengthen the stems. Varieties with long stems can be too long after shading....Alan Fisher

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