Dahlias come in all shapes and sizes. This is why, like other extensively hybridised flowers, dahlias are classified by flower type. There are waterlilies, stars, fimbriated (fringed) and cactus types; orchids, anemones, pompons and paeonies. Just don’t ask me to tell them all apart. Carving out a niche between the singles and the decorative doubles, collerette dahlias have the simple form of a single dahlia but with a flambuoyant twist.
Collerettes display a simple outer row of almost flat, overlapping petals, with a central disc encircled by a ‘collar’ of small florets that create a ruffled appearance. This extra frilly bit makes collerettes more decorative than their single sisters, but still easy to place in the border. A good collerette dahlia will hold its blooms nicely above the plant’s foliage, making them ideal for cutting, serving as a magnet for bees.
Dahlia maestro Steven Edney, Head Gardener at The Salutation, counts deep pink D. ‘Edith Jones’ amongst his favourite collerettes, growing several others including scarlet D. ‘Mars’, cool, creamy D. ‘April Heather’ and berry-bright D. ‘Lilian Alice’.
Daisy-like and dramatic, collerettes are the shooting stars of the dahlia family; bright, lively and just enough to brighten up your late summer borders.