Dahlias for Beginners

Dahlias, in my personal opinion, are pretty much the best flower out there.  There may even have been a consideration that a late summer wedding would allow me to have dahlias in my bouquet.  We got married late July and yes, dahlias were a required attendant. This year, I finally decided to muster up the guts and grow some dahlias myself.  I'm not talking about the bitsy little potted dahlias you can pick up in the annuals section of the plant store either.  I'm talking about buying tubers (the bulb-like roots) and growing dahlias literally from the ground up.

Growing Dahlias for Beginners via Year of Serendipity

I'm so pleased to say that it is now Dahlia season and I've had some marginal success growing these gorgeous blooms.  Mom grew them for the first time this year too, so we learned what to do (and what not to do) together.  AND now I'm here to share them with you.

Dahlia Lesson #1

Watering isn't necessary until the tubers decide to pop their little green sprouts above the surface of the soil.  If you overwater before they've popped, the tubers could rot.  I learned this the hard way.  I planted 18 tubers, and only 11 grew.  Once they start growing, water your heart out.

Growing Dahlias for Beginners via Year of Serendipity

Dahlia Lesson #2

Stakes are your BFFs.  As soon as the plants reach a foot or 2, tie them to a stake.  These seriously help them grow sky high.  I staked early, Mom a bit later.  Some of her plants got a little squirly at the base and didn't straighten out once they were staked.  Mine on the other hand?  Even though the tubers claimed 36"-48" tall, several of these guys are reaching well above the top of my 5'-6" head.

Growing Dahlias for Beginners via Year of Serendipity

Dahlia Lesson #3

Aside from liking stakes, the flowers like being cut.  The more blooms you cut, the more they produce.  How sweet is that?  It's like they're MADE to fill up vases throughout my house.  Keep 'em coming!

Growing Dahlias for Beginners via Year of Serendipity

Dahlia Lesson #4

Speaking of cutting them...  As tempting as it is to cut off a bloom as soon as it opens up, resist!  Older blooms will last much longer when cut.  Once you do cut them, though, place them directly into super hot water (not boiling) and then change the water every couple days to maximize their longevity.


I'm beyond the moon about how gorgeous these plants ended up this year!  My only challenge left will be to dig them up before the first frost and preserve the tubers to reuse next year.


What Dahlia growing tips would you add to this list??


6 Months of Fiddlin'

Guess what!  I haven't killed my fiddle leaf fig trees yet!  And it's been 6 months!  That's quite the accomplishment for me.  I'm not exactly known for my green thumb especially with houseplants.  Succulents rarely have a chance around me- I kill them with water, and I kill other plants that need water with neglect.  oops. But BOTH fiddle leafs are still going strong! (ish)

Hector, my IKEA fiddle leaf suffered an early setback (as I mentioned in my first fig post) and got very very very mad at me for over-watering him and letting him sit in the puddle.  Thankfully, he's been making a promising comeback with new growth.

Charlie is not impressed.


Yes, Hector's not looking his best, but he's on the mend.  That's what I keep telling myself.


Even though all his original leaves are either gone or brown, he's got a bunch of new leaves including 2 currently sprouting.  Maybe there's hope for him yet!


At least if I kill this one, it's only a $13 IKEA plant as opposed to my other, nursery born fiddly dude, Victor:


He's much much happier.  I haven't tried to kill him once! (Sir Charlie Bear was following me around as I was taking these photos.  I think he was practicing for his Top Model audition).

This little fig tree is much much happier than his upstairs counterpart.  Aside from watering (after being repotted into a self-watering pot with plenty of drainage to prevent over-watering...), the only other upkeep these guys get is a bit of Miracle Grow Leaf Shine.  My endorsement is not sponsored, it just makes the leaves look bright and shiny.  See?


So shiny they almost look fake.  But not.

My mom's the one who's really knocking this whole fiddle leaf thing outta the park.  I picked her up an IKEA one when I got Hector and they were just about the same size and health.  Now 6 months later I have never seen a happier plant- it's jumped up by over a foot and a half!  If it keeps at this rate, my parents will need to cut a hole in the ceiling for it.


Her 'secret' is that she waters it a little every time it feels dry and it loves it's window.  She's like the plant whisperer or something.  Clearly not a trait I was passed.  Whenever I'm reminded of how lush Hector was when I brought him home (before the incident), I just wish I could find another in stock at IKEA, but the IKEA fiddle leaf figs are like the chupacabra- some have seen it, but many doubt it's existence.  One day, IKEA, one day.

Have you had luck not killing fiddle leaf figs?  I'd love to hear your secrets!

I'm super excited for the coming weeks, I have several projects up my sleeve that I'm hoping to finish up and share.  Good things are coming! Stay tuned!

Outdoor Update

This is one of those years where summer seems to be wizzing past even though it's just started.  Where has it gone already?!  I'm totally behind with our gardens and haven't even finished mulching the veggie garden.  I feel like this should get finished before July hits.... tomorrow... we'll see what kind of motivation I come home from Grover with tonight. Nothing has changed drastically in my back yard/garden in the past year, but I like to share it here each year anyway- it's like my little garden year book.


It's going to be positively paradise once the hydrangea start blooming.  It's my little suburban sanctuary.  When everything is in full bloom late summer, and I've hopefully finished mulching, I'll give you the full 2014 yarden (yard/garden) tour- which will probably look very similar to 2013's.  Between the front, back, and sides of the house, our yard takes 30 bags of mulch and only has 170sf of grass.  Definitely skewed a bit, but I'd rather play in gardens then mow a huge lawn any day.

The newest addition to our yard is a monstrous rain barrel.  I convinced Hubby that we needed one for when our town institutes a water ban (usually during a long hot spell in the summer) and we still need to water the veggies.  When I tried to put the barrel directly under the water spout as I originally intended, however, it looked gargantuan and beyond ridiculous.  I settled on hiding it in a corner, but now have to deal with re-routing the downspout.


Although I ventured to Home Depot for all the parts (which I did get), I got distracted by picking out plants for Grover and subsequently spent my afternoon playing in the dirt at the flip instead of installing my own rain barrel.  I have a feeling this will be the story of my life for the next couple weeks.  We are T minus 14 days before we hope to list Grover, the latest fliphouse.  One-track mind may not even begin to cover it.  I'll do my best not to talk exclusively flip here.  I wouldn't want to bore you with daily updates of what trim I painted or what light fixture I installed.  Enthralling, I know, but I'll keep it to my weekly updates.

Returning to my own abode and veering slightly off topic- guest what finally got ordered!!!!!

mgbw sofa

After 3.5 years of complaining about my over-sized budget furniture store sofa, he's getting replaced with the gorgeous Diane from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams!  She's certainly a splurge and will be the most we've spent on any piece of furniture ever.... but I intend on having this pretty lady around for a very long time.  Now I only have to wait about 8 weeks for her to come in (sadface).  Oh well, at least she's ordered!!!  Can you tell I'm excited?

I'll be daydreaming of my new velvetty sofa whilst I manage to cover myself with dirt, mulch, and paint over at Grover.  Happy Monday all!