THE DAHLIA PRIMER by Eleanor Welling


: Little Known Facts About the Dahlia
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A beginner’s how-to book on growing dahlias that’s slim enough to slip into a jacket pocket for quick reference while kneeling in the dirt.

Welling shows an obvious passion for growing and showing dahlias, citing the reason so many people tend them–“because the blooms are ‘spectacular’ and ‘prolific.’” The book is broken into 13 small chapters which outline basic information on dahlias such as storing tubers, planting seeds and picking the flowers to enter competitions. The author also provides a brief history, explaining that the dahlia originated in Mexico and was slowly introduced to Spain and eventually to the rest of the world. Tips from Welling’s husband, a longtime dahlia grower, make the practical chapters on fertilizing, disbudding and treating tubers accessible to readers new to the flower. The information conveyed in this short text is likely to be helpful to anyone considering trying their green thumbs at growing dahlias, but it is sparse and will leave readers curious to learn more. For instance, why did the first Cactus Dahlia seeds travel to Germany from Mexico when the breed was developed in Holland? In addition, when Welling discusses pre-planting and the likelihood of a tuber failing to sprout when put in the ground in late May or early June, she fails to give a logical reason, her only explanation being “for whatever reason.” The book’s subtitle claims that little-known facts will be revealed, but readers will find that this basic introduction covers information that is readily available in a number of other books and websites. While Welling’s tone is cozy, as if the subject were being discussed over tea and scones, her narrative occasionally lapses into a distracting passive voice and, at times, deteriorates into inappropriate sentence fragments which break the comfortable mood.

A guide to growing dahlias that exhibits a lack of information and some sloppy writing, but contains the basic facts.

Pub Date: April 24th, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-4257-5878-3
Program: Kirkus Indie
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