You know I love to grow flowers. Especially dahlias. Living in temperate Oregon, many of my favorite tubers winter over without digging or storage. The next spring they pop from the ground, ready to bloom again. But one dahlia, a favorite variegated variety, started slowly this spring and stayed sluggish throughout the summer.
When I checked in June its tubers didn’t even show sprouts. I observed the plant again in July and found shoots about an inch high and all the leaves chewed by slugs. Planted near the fence, the dahlia didn’t seem to be getting enough light, what with the foggy mornings and short exposures to the sun in the afternoon. I knew if I didn’t do something I might lose it altogether.
I discussed moving the tubers with my husband. The risks were great. Since the plant was already above ground, moving it at the end of July could kill it. If I left it where it was and it didn’t bloom, I could lose it as well. New tubers are formed when the flower blooms. No flowers, no tubers. My choices were a toss-up.
I opted for a move. My husband helped me dig the plant out, cutting a wide swath around the tubers. We transplanted the wad of sod to the front of the dahlia garden, filled the hole with seasoned animal fertilizer, and plopped the lifeless plant in the ground.
The dahlia sprang to life. Every week I could see at least another two inches of plant pushing toward the sky. By the end of August the plant had grown to a foot in height. Encouraging, except no blooms were to be seen anywhere. By the end of September, the plant reached two feet in height. Still no blooms. Convinced the flower wouldn’t bloom this summer, I shrugged my shoulders in acceptance of that fact. I’d certainly tried my best.
In his letters ( II Thessalonians 3:13, Galatians 6:9, and II Timothy 4:7) Paul talks about running the race to win. I was amazed at how many times he said to stay at the task to finish. Don’t become weary, he says, in doing good. Yet how often do we let life’s obstacles stop us, discourage us, shut us down?
As I watched the dahlia struggle to bloom where it was planted, I wondered why we couldn’t all possess the tenacity of that determined plant. If we did press on through the trials and temptations of life, think what victories we could achieve.
Meanwhile, October moved in with rain and colder weather, often sprinkled among days of Indian summer sun. The dahlia began putting out flower buds. Fascinated, I did a dance with nature as I waited to see if the dahlia would outrun the onset of winter. The blossoms kept coming. While other dahlias in my garden were fading fast, their heavy heads bent under the weight of water from rain, this dahlia pushed skyward.
Then frost hit. Really hit. Temperatures dropped below freezing. Not once, but twice. Two days in a row. I figured my dahlia was lost.
But sunny days followed the frost. The blooms kept trying to open. I waited some more. Come on, come on, I pleaded. Just one bloom. That’s all I ask. Just one!
On October 29 (I kid you not!) the flower opened. Not one blossom, but two, three, four and five. I ask you. Was it worth the wait? I think so. Here’s the proof.