Last summer, while losing my mobile phone in the luxuriant dahlia trial (and finding it again the next day) I realised that some visitors, overwhelmed by the flamboyant exhibition types, may have missed some of the best new dahlias of recent years.
The Happy Series. which includes the dramatic Happy Single Juliet ('HS Juliet'), is not intended for exhibitors but is great in the garden. Ideal for large containers, for mixed borders and for brilliant summer seasonal displays, each of the eight single-flowered varieties produces a prolific display of often bicoloured flowers set against foliage in tomes reminiscent of ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ leaves.
Reaching 50-75cm high and with flowers 10-12cm across, the proportions are just right and the plants are more versatile than most other dark-leaded dahlias. True, there are some short, seed-raised types with dark leaves but they usually come only in mixtures and the flower colours can be a rather murky.
Raised by Aad Verwer in The Netherlands, Aad is also the creator of the dwarf double Gallery Series of dahlias, the tall Karma Series, bred specially for cutting, and many other fine dahlias.
New this year are Happy Single Romeo (‘HS Romeo’), in rich red, and Happy Single Wink (‘HS Wink’), in lilac with a red ring round the eye. Next year look out for Happy Single Princess (‘HS Princess’) with pure white flowers set against dark foliage – that will be worth waiting for.
The RHS Plant Finder mail order nursery stocking the widest range of this series, including the two newest, is Southon Plants but look out for them in garden centres around the country