Last weekend I was invited to an educational event at the Crocus Gardening School @ Dorney Court Kitchen Garden in Dorney. It was a talk by award-winning garden writer, lecturer & organic gardener, Val Bourne, on Dahlias.
My curiosity was the driving force behind my immediate acceptance as I had heard of Dorney Court when I worked at the studios in Iver Heath, but had never visited. The subject matter also interested me as I have grown Dahlias as cutting flowers since moving to the cottage in 2005. I was keen to listen to Val’s take on this particular topic.
Following the sat nav I took the M25, M4, and A4, to arrive at Dorney Court. The route was congested and dull. I wished that I had followed my instinct and criss-crossed the M25 taking in Wraysbury, Windsor, and Datchet.
On arrival at the Kitchen Garden I made my way through the entrance and into the walled garden. At first I didn’t see any signs for the event so wandered around the plant and pot displays, and the garden beyond. It is a lovely setting.
There was a marquee in one corner, and I noticed on closer inspection, that a handful of people had taken their seats. Tentatively I entered the tent and was immediately confronted by a laptop and screen; this had to be the place.
I took a seat and moments later Val arrived. After a brief introduction she turned to her power point display and the talk began.
Fascinating facts about the history of the Dahlia, once called the Georgina. Originating in South America and falling in and out of fashion, here in the UK it is grown for cutting and for exhibiting. With an ever increasing number of breeds it ranges from the neat symmetrical “pom-pom” to the flamboyant shaggy “dinner plate”.
Sarah Raven has been instrumental in the current popularity of the Dahlia. Used as a cutting flower she grows them herself and also sells the tubers from her popular website. Gorgeous collections are available with magnificent names such as The Shot Silk Dahlia Collection, The Venetian Dahlia Collection, and The Sublime Dark Dahlia Collection. As she says “one dahlia tuber will produce hundreds of flowers”. What’s not to like?
I must admit attendance at Val’s talk certainly piqued my interest and I came away thinking that with very little effort I could add some new varieties to my allotment and have a cutting garden to die for.
Leaving the Dorney Court estate I chose not to follow the sat nav’s directions to the nearest motorway but instead drove across Dorney meadow and down into Eton village. A short drive from there I passed the Windsor Farm Shop and then on to Runnymede Meadow, where the Magna Carta was sealed by King John in 1215.
Twenty minutes later I was home having enjoyed a far more spectacular return journey.