Dahlia Week: Dahlia ‘Waltzing Mathilda’

It’s rare that I regret not buying a plant. This is because I scarcely ever resist temptation in the first place. ‘Buy it now, you might never find it again and then you’ll be sorry’ says the mischievous flower fairy that follows me around gardens, markets and nurseries wherever I go. ‘Don’t worry about where to plant it. Look, it’s sooooo pretty! See how it grows…..’

Dahlia 'Waltzing Matilda', The Salutation, September 2015

My particular flower fairy must have had the morning off the day I placed my summer bulb order. Despite marking the catalogue with a spidery black asterisk, I completely forgot to tick the box for Dahlia ‘Waltzing Mathilda’. I had great plans for this dizzying damsel with her fiery flowers and bronzy leaves: she would can-can with cannas, tango with taros and girate with gingers. I was even considering a sprung dance floor in place of the terrace.

Dahlia 'Waltzing Matilda', The Salutation, September 2015

My oversight was forgotten until this weekend when I spied the twirling lady herself in a trial bed of dark-leaved dahlias at The Salutation in Sandwich. Like other dahlias that have marked my dance card, D. ‘Waltzing Mathilda’ has flowers the colour of a September sunset. What distinguishes her is her purple-brown leaves, the relaxed arrangement of curvaceous petals around a central boss of golden stamens and the attaractiveness of her blooms to bees.

Dahlia 'Waltzing Matilda', The Salutation, September 2015

As a rule single-flowered dahlias are vastly more attractive to pollinators than doubles. It’s immensely entertaining watching bumble bees, their panniers already bursting with pollen, greedily coming back for more. D. Waltzing Mathilda, with such a profusion of flower, provides them with a veritable feast.

The next time I hear my flower fairy’s cheeky whisper I will chastise her for allowing me to pass Mathilda by. I hope she’ll be saving her last dance for me.

Dahlia 'Waltzing Matilda', The Salutation, September 2015

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15 thoughts on “Dahlia Week: Dahlia ‘Waltzing Mathilda’

  1. Really enjoyed reading this and the photos. The petals really do look like dancing sunset flames, but the dark purple leaves also suggest a dark, muted dusk. It looks magical and must look even more so with nectar filled bumblebees buzzing round it.


  2. I have been stalking every website, flower show and nursery since this post last year! Really wanted some tubers to give it a go but they are out of stock everywhere! do you know what time of year they usually become available please? I would have thought it would be around now? Thanks FG 🙂


    1. Hi Tamsyn. Actually the new catalogues tend to come out promptly in the New Year and if there’s something you want specially it pays to have placed your order by the end of February. By now tubers would be well into growth. Sarah Raven are selling plants for delivery in June https://www.sarahraven.com/flowers/plants/potted_dahlias/dahlia_waltzing_mathilda.htm. You may find other nurseries start offering plants once they have reached flowering size. If you don’t get lucky, there’s always something to look forward to next year!


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