Dahlias are back in vogue. Once dismissed as being terribly old fashioned and vulgar – gardeners and florists can’t get enough of the enduring charm of dahlias. Thousands of varieties exist but ‘Cafe au Lait’ is possibly one of the most beloved dahlias ever. With sophisticated, huge billowing blooms that open pale pink and then fade to the most perfect colour: a cream blush which mixes so well with other colour combinations – this dahlia is quite simply sumptuous.
We have them growing in our walled garden where they are looking at their very best right now. Dahlias thrive in hot weather but these cream, pale pink flowers always look cool and elegant. Imagine rich cream with a dollop of beige-pink and you get the idea.
Flowering from mid-summer until the first frosts, they are very easy to grow and care for, and make superb cut flowers too, lasting for ages in the vase. I start by planting the tubers in pots in our greenhouse in a peat-free multi-purpose compost in March or April. After approximately 2-3 weeks, shoots will appear and I pinch out the tips of the main shoot to encourage more flowers later on. I plant them in the ground when all risk of frost has passed and I insert a strong stake for support. They are thirsty plants so I water well and make sure the soil has had lots of organic matter incorporated into it before planting.
I cannot recommend this dahlia highly enough. We adore it – it’s like a Fantin-Latour come to life.