Dahlias up close

Kristine Albrecht, president of the Monterey Bay Dahlia Society checks a KA’s cardinal dahlia in her garden on Pacheco Avenue in Santa Cruz. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

SANTA CRUZ — The annual Dahlia Show by the Monterey Bay Dahlia Society will run Aug. 24-25 at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.

Visitors can expect to view dazzling arrays of blooms, gain information and relish photo opportunities at the free event.

Hundreds of dahlia varieties, from single stem to multi-bloom displays, seedlings, new introductions, arrangements and dahlia photographs will be part of the show.

“We live in such a great area to grow dahlias,” said Kristine Albrecht, President of the Monterey Bay Dahlia Society. “Everyone loves these flowers; they bring so much joy. The show is a great place for the public to come out and learn and have fun.”

As usual, several experts will be on hand to share their knowledge of the versatile flower that was declared the national flower of Mexico in 1963.

Albrecht’s yard at her Santa Cruz home is a virtual forest of the flowers, resembling a living fireworks display. Hardly a motorist or pedestrian can pass without slowing to admire the colorful drama.

“Right now I’m growing about 100 kinds of dahlias,” she said as she checked out her garden. “I sell to some local florists. A woman was just here who brought some of the flowers to a wedding. People stop by all the time. It’s fun.”

She also has a small table at the edge of her garden where people can purchase her blooms.

The dahlia is native to Mexico but also flourishes in places like California, Ohio, New York and the Pacific Northwest.

The blooms range widely in size, Albrecht said, from 21 inches to about an inch. She said the biggest enemies of dahlias are slugs, snails, cucumber beetles, powdery mildew and gophers. Her garden includes a thick layer of straw that, among other things, helps contains moisture and keeps the soil supple.

During the show Jan Palia will give demonstrations on bouquet arranging. Two of her bouquets will be raffled.

Visitors will be able to purchase blooms and tubers, as well as be photographed beside giant dahlias at a photo backdrop.

The show runs Aug. 24 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the following day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Museum of Art and History, 705 Front St. in Santa Cruz.

•••

Events schedule:

• Aug. 24: Arrangement Demos, 2 p.m. Basics of Growing Beautiful Dahlias, 3 p.m.

• Aug. 25: Dahlia Judging Basics, 1 p.m.; Arrangement Demo, 2 p.m.; Basics of Growing Beautiful Dahlias, 3 p.m.

For information, visit mbdahlias.org.

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