A Collarette Dahlia cultivar

A Collarette Dahlia cultivar

Dahlia ‘Ken’s Gala’

Asteraceae

Etymology

Genus: Dahlia – after the 18th century Swedish botanist, Anders Dahl.
Cultivar: ‘Ken’s Gala’ – The Dahlia raisers, Ken and B. Farquhar of New South Wales used ‘Ken’s’ as the prefix for their Dahlias. E.g. ‘Ken’s Choice’ and ‘Ken’s Flame’.

Distribution 

The species, D. coccinea, from which this cultivar is derived may be native to Central America, Mexico and Columbia. Its long cultivation leaving the precision of the original distribution in doubt.

Native habitat

Reported, by early Spanish explorer, as growing on the sandy mountainsides of Mexico. Full sun to partial shade, a cool season and good drainage are essential.

Description

A tuberous plant with annual, soft vegetative growth producing a succession of blooms.

Flowering

A tuberous plant with annual, soft vegetative growth producing a succession of blooms.

Location in Garden 

Formal Garden beds above the Herb Garden.

Information 

The Aztecs used the tubers as a food, employed the plant medicinally and the hollow stems formed pipes.

On reaching Europe the small, weedy plants with flat-petalled red to orange and occasionally yellow flowers were considered a vegetable. An un-answered question remains as to which side of the Atlantic is the origin of the double-petalled form.

The craze for these plants as ‘flowers’ took off after double-flowered blooms were bred in Belgium in 1815. ‘Collarette’ type dahlias were first developed in France and Germany in the early 20th century. The Royal Horticultural Society classifies them in Group 3: “…blooms with a single outer ring of generally flat florets…with a ring of small florets (the collar)…”

One of the most reliable ‘collarette form’ dahlias bred prior to 1995 in New South Wales, Australia, is ‘Ken’s Gala’.