Since ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ dahlia began to enjoy a revival in its popularity about twenty years ago, other dark-leaved dahlias have been revived and found their way into more nurseries and more gardens. There’s also been a steady trickle of new dark-leaved varieties. Now one of the world’s foremost breeders of new dahlias has made their own contribution with the Dark Angel series.
Kees and Aad Verwer of Verwer Dahlias in The Netherlands are responsible for creating the Gallery Series, the Karma Series, the Happy Single Series and many other fine varieties. Now they’ve released the Dark Angel Series which features single flowers set against shiny, dark purple-bronze foliage which is much prettier and more finely divided, like ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, than that of many dark-leaved varieties.
The plants are also very neat in growth, reaching only about 60cm/2ft, and branching repeatedly so they are much more manageable, especially in containers or in a small garden, than ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ and similar taller types.
Four varieties will be available in garden centres around the country in May and June, others will be available from the RHS Plant Centre at Wisley. All are named for famous Hollywood films. Well, most of them are: I’m not sure Dragon Ball quaifies as a Hollywood blockbuster. Perhaps the selection of names simply reflects the personal enthusiasms of the raisers! This is the full range:
Dracula (‘Vdtg17’) (above right, click to enlarge) is purplish red, almost magenta, becoming darker around the eye.
Dragon Ball (‘Vdtg31’) is deep salmon orange, darker around the eye and paler at the tips of the petals.
Taxi Driver (‘Vdtg57’) (left, click to enlarge) is bright lemon yellow with faint orange streaks.
Star Wars (‘Vtdg14’) (top picture, click to enlarge) is bright yellow with contrasting fiery orange tips to the petals.
You will find these four at Klondyke and Strikes Garden Centres (in Scotland and the north of England), Squires Garden Centres in the south, and the RHS plant centres at Wisley (Surrey), Harlow Carr (Yorkshire), Hyde Hall (Essex) and Rosemoor (Devon).
The following four will be available from the RHS Plant Centre at Wisley, and perhaps at other garden centres.
American Pie (‘Vdtg26’) is soft pink fading to white at the edges.
Braveheart (‘Vdtg67’) is deep violet purple.
Pretty Woman (‘Vdtg43’) is vivid pink, darker around the eye and paler at the tips of the petals.
Pulp Fiction (‘Vdtg61’) is very similar to the scarlet ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, though much shorter and much bushier.