Last year the Wisley dahlia trial was one of the most colourful - and interesting - of the season. It usually is. It's always worth seeing just to admire the dazzling display. But of course there's a purpose to it: finding the best.
Out of a grand total of one hundred and forty nine different dahlias, from The Netherlands as well as from all over Britain, just four were chosen as being good enough to receive an Award of Garden Merit (AGM). The awards have now been ratified and all four will be available to gardeners this year. And just to be clear, these are primarily garden dahlias, not show dahias, although AGM dahlias can be good for showing as well.
One of the striking things this year is that only one of the four award winners is a big traditional double dahlia - two are Collarettes and one is a single flowered variety.
The judges were chaired by Jon Wheatley, a member of the Executive Council of the National Dahlia Society who also advises the National Dahlia Collection. "The four new AGMs this year are individually outstanding," he told me. "The single flowered ‘Magenta Star' with its dark foliage is a welcome addition to any garden. ‘Mayan Pearl' never stops flowering irrespective of the weather and ‘Trelyn Daisy', a pure white Collarette, is good for garden and exhibition . But the most interesting for 2009 is ‘Woodbridge', the first Dahlia to get an AGM for its foliage."
You can order ‘Magenta Star' from the National Dahlia Collection
You can order ‘Mayan Pearl' from Gilberts Nursery
You can order ‘Trelyn Daisy' from the National Dahlia Collection
You can order ‘Woodbridge' from the National Dahlia Collection
However good a dahlia is, it can't receive an AGM unless it's possible for gardeners to buy plants. After all, what's the point of giving a plant an award if you can't buy it? So one of the stars of the 2007 trial has had its AGM confirmed now that it's possible to order it. 'Northwest Cosmos' is a lilac single with a dramatic purple ring around the eye. You can order it from the National Dahlia Collection.