Houseplants, embraced by hirsute, plaid-draped baby boomers in the 1970s, fell into obscurity before being rescued in this century by millennials.

Succulents were once the domain of rock-garden enthusiasts — the most esoteric subset of gardeners — but are now an essential part of contemporary urban life. Old garden roses are back, and so is kale. What next? Carnations, snapdragons, Kentucky bluegrass? The possibilities are endless.

The dahlia, a tender perennial from the high plains of Mexico, sent Europeans into a frenzy of delight when it showed up in the Old World.

The European mania led to the breeding of a wide range of dahlias, in color, form and size, and soon growers were classifying this cornucopia so they could do what all flower fanciers of a simpler age liked to do: Show them off. Dahlia shows proved to the public what an amazing flower the dahlia had become in the hands of devoted hobbyists.

Dahlias also have had a long presence in the garden, small ones tucked between other perennials, tall ones staked as sentinels in the border.

In our own time, when perennials and grasses have come to the fore, dahlias seemed to recede into the past, like lavender water, pedal cars and mahogany wardrobes. Now we have come to see that few flowers are so luxuriant in their color, which includes shades of orange, red, burgundy and yellow. The darker the hue, the more intense it seems to be.

The cut-flower world, inherently photogenic and made for social media, has been given an enormous boost on photo-driven digital platforms in recent years. Nothing in October is as vivid as a bouquet of dahlias. Dahlias are back.

Dahlias like moisture but also good drainage, bright light and cooler weather, especially at night.

Load comments