Andreana Bitsis

Ask Ella: The Decadence of a Dahlia

Ask Ella is a recurring Garden Collage feature where we ask our in-house florist, Ella Stavonsky, about floral design– including the history of, origin, and maintenance that goes into some of the most intriguing flowers on the market today. This column is dedicated exclusively to common and rare varieties of flowers you’re likely to find at your local market. This week, we spotlight dahlias, a classic flower that breathes elegance into any arrangement.

There’s something satisfying about looking at a dahlia (Dahlia hortensis)– its circular symmetry and delicate edges; the subtle changes in color across each petal; its almost fluffed look. The national flower of Mexico is an understandably popular choice for summer weddings, as it is a very graceful, exquisite flower with a surprising range of variety, both in color (from fiery pinks to ebony reds) and size (from modest 2″ blooms to magnificent 10″ dinner plate dahlias).

Joyce Hannaford

Andreana Bitsis

Beyond cold water and recutting the stems every other day, there’s not much to do for dahlias besides sitting around and admiring their beauty. Of all the choices the market has, we’re personally partial to the soft, alabster colors of the café au lait dahlia. “It’s a nice flower for blush pastel wedding palettes especially,” Ella told us.

As there are so many different colors and sizes of dahlias, they’re a flexible bunch when it comes to arrangements. We like to embrace the very old-fashioned, country-side aesthetic dahlias impart, and typically avoid pairing dahlias with too many other flowers, usually sticking to a handful of garden roses and augmenting the bouquet with lots of greenery (dusty miller, eucalyptus, even sprigs of rosemary). Of course, a single bloom looks beautiful just by itself.

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