New Chairman Footnote – Frank Fraser
It was an honour to be asked as chairman for the Society and succeeding my friend John Wallace as chairman. If I can accomplish half of what John has done for the Society over the past few years then I will judge that as a success.
John was instrumental in finding the Society an affordable permanent home at Dundee that has given the dahlia a higher profile than in previous locations.
It is fair to say that he pulled the Society together with his organisation skills and an open door policy to include everyone to do a bit in the successful running of the show.
I thank John for all he has done for the Society over the years and I wish him good health in the future and I know I can ask for advice from John at any time.
Finally I will be taking an similar approach to John’s style of chairmanship with the aim of maintaining the Scottish as being one of the top dahlia and chrysanthemum shows in the United Kingdom.
I wish you all well in the growing season this year.
Three of Scotland's dahlia exhibitors were put on the spot recently, Frank Fraser, Jordan & Sean Turner and John Wallace. They dealt just as effectively with the questions as they do with the predators of their dahlia plants!
Q1. How long have you been growing Dahlias?
FF - 24 years
J&S - As a pair Sean and I have been growing on our own for 5 years. Started with 15 plants of mixed collerettes and Star dahlias each year increasing our growing numbers to around 200 plants of mixed classifications.
JW - Since 1985. Varieties: Nettie, Min Ball; White Nettie, Min Ball; Bitsa, Min Ball; Risca Minor, S/B; Lady Linda, S/Dec; Raser Pride, M/C; Salmon Symbol, M/SC.
Five of each variety.
Q2. What to date would you consider your best achievement?
FF - Winning the Terry Clarke in 2013 at Wisley and Best Vase
J&S - It’s a tough question, putting our first individual entry up at the Scottish National in 2015 was a huge achievement and it shown us that on a single day that we are not too far away from the best growers in the UK.
JW - When it was decided to purchase a new trophy for the Individual in 1996 I set a goal of trying to be the first name on it. As I had previously won this class and also came a narrow second, I was over the moon to achieve this along with the Best Vase of Large.
Q3. How many plants do you grow?
FF - 250
J&S - We grow 200 plants which are spread between 3 covered areas. With the varieties chosen allowing us to attempt at 5 trophy/championship classes at the Scottish national – if we get them all ready for that show is another problem.
JW - Approx 200
Q4. Name your top 3 dahlias?
FF - Kiwi Gloria, Trelyn Kiwi and Winholme Diane.
J&S - Eastwood Moonlight: What a dependable dahlia it can be cut most weeks with relative ease. Vivian Russell: A waterlilly of the highest quality when good it’s a real stand out, not as reliable as some waterlillies but very good when right. Rose Jupiter: One we have grew for a few years it’s a really good looking giant cactus. The bed of 12 plants look great when they are all out.
JW - Kenora Challenger – L/SC, Gurtla Twighlight - Pom, Reg Keene, L/SC (good stock now gone)
Q5. When do you start your dahlias off?
FF - 01.02.2016
J&S - We usually start the dahlias around early January. All tubers are boxed up in a general multi-purpose compost. Early cuttings will either get discarded or rooted on for use for pot tubers. Best cuttings for us are around mid-April into May.
JW - January in the greenhouse
Q6. Do you feed? If so what with?
FF - Yes, Fish/Blood/Bone/Chicken Pellets
J&S - Yes, we do. The ground usually gets dug and a dressing of lime is applied. Well-rotted manure is then trench dug into each of the beds. Before planting a base dressing of Tev4 (potato fertilizer) is spread and the feed is rotavated in. Throughout the growing season we don’t feed heavily. We usually feed with a balanced fertilizer until the end of July. After this point we tend to start feeding with a high potash fertilizer (comfrey) once a week until mid -September.
JW - Yes, I feed - Handful of chicken pellets in every planting hole, lawn fertilizer until Mid-July then tomato feed thereafter
Q7. What is your favourite show?
FF – Wisley, because of less commitments
J&S - That’s a tough question, I would have to say the Scottish National I would say our dahlias are usually at their best at this show. It also gives us the chance to pitch ourselves against the best growers in the UK.
JW - Scottish National because of the friendliness of everyone
Q8. What are your views on dahlia rings?
FF - Good for regulating size at the start of judging, but after that task throw the rings away. Ensure everything is ringed in the morning. I have seen judges ringing flowers at 1pm in warm dahlia halls, which is madness.
J&S - For me they have their positives and negatives They have in their time stopped very good varieties being shown on the benches – unless you grow poms you just moan for long enough and they put the size up. I think they give many inexperienced growers a size standard they must meet for a certain classification. In some cases, a good way to go would be to discard the rings and judge varieties and vases based on quality – with a structured pointing method (that topic is for another day).
JW – They are needed. If a class of mediums is asked for then the bloom must go through that ring ie Kenora Challenger is classified large but if it goes through a medium ring then it could be shown it a medium class.
Q9. Reveal one secret tip you have?
FF - Commitment and time management to what I grow
J&S - We have used Gareth Hopcroft’s product Charge in our potting mix and as a top dressing on our beds. Charge is a balanced organic fertilizer made from droppings from reared beetles. I feel the charge has helped give the plants a great boost throughout the season when applied as a top dressing.
Q10. Is there a new dahlia that you would raid your sporran for?
FF – Aye, a new strain of Kiwi Gloria !
J&S - Don’t think much new dahlias varieties will be entering the plot this year need to grow the ones we have better. If you were to twist my arm to get anything new it could be the Bryn Terfel Sport Aggie White which will be a fantastic addition to the giant decorative class.
JW - Being a Scotsman my sporran is welded shut but I am quite good at begging.
Alistair Gray gave an excellent talk on Blanch Leeks and demonstrated why he is at the top of the leek growing world.
A superb buffet lunch was served by the Gilvenbank Hotel that was enjoyed by all.
Gavin Thomson from Premier Hydroponics gave us an insight into propagating and growing without soil. Very interesting.
The raffle followed and then outside for the plant sale. Plants were donated by members and once again we are indebted to Cruickshanks Nursery for their donation of plants that forms the majority of plants on sale.
SCOTLAND BEAT ENGLAND
At the recent Northern Conferance the Scottish Dahlia Team beat the English Team in a Dahlia Quiz.
This year's SNC&DS Schedule has been uploaded on the Annual Show info page.
Details of the date of the AGM is available on the Key Dates page.
The results section has now been updated for the 2016 National Show.