Plant Profile: Dahlia ‘Nicholas’


I should have predicted it. I take a holiday, I unwind (sort of), and up creeps the dreaded tonsillitis. It happens every time, without fail. I don’t suffer from many afflictions but this one comes along as regular as clockwork and it’s debilitating. Tonsillitis is one of the few things that changes my cup from overflowing to empty: I am, shall we say, feeling glum.

I worked from home today, conserving as much energy as possible, slumped dejectedly against my desk with all considerations of posture going firmly out of the French doors. I would not recommend a full inbox as a cure for any minor or serious ailments, and mine was brimming over with circulars, copy-addressees and general nonsense: all serious dealings seem to have stopped in line with the start of the school holidays. Backlog dealt with, I had a minor triumph to celebrate.



Meanwhile a garden is like a young child, in that you can’t neglect it if you’re feeling off-colour. The show has to go on. Tonight I’ve been outside watering, rather cursorily I admit, in order that we both get through the next few days with some semblance of vigour intact. As I look around I am reminded how much joy flowers can bring, even when one’s feeling low. In the Jungle Garden, high on a wave of crisp green foliage sails Dahlia ‘Nicholas’, a new dahlia at The Watch House for 2018 and one I’ve warmed to very quickly. The leaves are nothing extraordinary, but the flowers are simply stunning, verging on perfection. There is something so alluring about the blooms’ gently rounded petals and warm tones, beginning with a flash of crimson at the centre and bleeding out to sulphur yellow and then soft apricot towards the edges. Followers will already know I have a soft spot for any dahlia possessed of an ‘inner light’, meaning that ‘Nicholas’ is in with a strong chance of joining ‘Firepot’ and ‘American Dawn’ to make my top three.



Dahlia ‘Nicholas’ was introduced to gardens in 2010 by Swan Island Dahlias of Oregon, USA. They are one of the largest dahlia growers in the United States, offering almost 400 varieties. The equivalent in the UK might be The National Dahlia Collection, boasting over 1600 varieties (get in!). Although I could not readily find ‘Nicholas’ in their catalogue, I did stumble over tens of others I’d like to try next year. In the meantime Sarah Raven is always a great source of dahlias since the Sarah Raven team are so good at editing the choice down to the best and easiest to coordinate plants: clever, commercial, and they know it!

As dahlias go ‘Nicholas’ is a little taller than many of the others I grow, holding its own alongside tall gingers such as Hedychium ‘Stephen’ which shares some of the same peachy tones. American gardeners applaud the longevity of Nicholas’ blooms on the plant and in a vase, but bemoan the short length of the flower stems, which I can attest to. A small gripe with an otherwise immaculate and uplifting dahlia. A ‘must add’ for next year’s summer bulb order and a good gift for the glummest gardener. TFG.


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40 thoughts on “Plant Profile: Dahlia ‘Nicholas’

  1. I’m not a dahlia fan except when it comes to photographing them, but this is truly a beauty. Such soft and subtle colours. I can understand your enchantment with it. Sorry to hear about the illness. Being ill in summer always seems worse than at any other time of the year. Hope you are on the up soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I struggled with tonsillitis and frequent bouts of said affliction from being a small child until I was 39. That last year I had tonsillitis permanently and was on an almost endless course of antibiotics, finally after badgering my GP and the specialist at the hospital, they agreed to remove my tonsils, which they rarely do for someone approaching middle age. I feel your weariness, for me removing them was the best thing for my physical health that ever happened. After a few months I actually felt well for the first time in my memory; it was a little revelatory.

    Bear in mind that removing the little f*ckers is an option, despite the reticence from health workers.

    It’s a beautiful dahlia, all the better for being named Nicholas

    Cheers, Nick

    Be well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Nick. My error was stopping going to the doctors altogether when I got it since the antibiotics were having no effect. So I just took nurofen instead. I was due to have them out in my mid 20’s but I hadn’t had tonsillitis for 12 months at that time (I was on the waiting list for 18 months) so I cancelled the op! Big mistake. Anyway, I just need to take care of myself a little better as it’s tiredness and exhaustion that brings it on. If I’m well rested I don’t tend to get it.

      Well done for persevering, sounds like it was life changing for you. Dan


  3. It’s a strange phenomenon that I have noticed as well – you’re working hard and you’re fine but as soon as you relax your immune system seems to dip down and bang you’re ill! Very odd, you’d think logically it should work the other way round. Get well soon Dan

    Liked by 2 people

      1. You must really be unwell to not manage a cup of tea. So hope you are feeling better and just think of all the people who care about you.
        Now put that laptop down and sleep.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Sorry to hear about the tonsillitis, I think it is your body’s way of saying ‘I have done more than enough, now I need to rest’. Hope you are better soon. As for your gorgeous Dahlias, you certainly know how to expand my plant ‘Wish List’.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I hope you feel better soon. Do take care and have lots of rest. Beautiful pictures. I love growing dahlia as they are so easy to grow. Just want to ask if the tubers are edible?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I hope you are feeling better now. I must say, you have such beautiful dahlias in your garden!

    I guess it’s one of those things that make gardens so special — they make you feel good and somehow makes you feel better if you are sick. I haven’t had the chance to do some research to validate this but on rare occasions that I do get sick, spending time in my garden does seem to help.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. A fine dahlia. I also liked ‘American Dawn’ that you showed us in your Facebook videos. How do you get your gingers to flower? Mine haven’t flowered for the past two years. Also I noticed your Scilla peruviana doing well in its pot. I planted mine out but only get leaves. Perhaps I should pot it up again! Thanks for growing so many unusual plants and sharing them with us. I love using pots too – you can get a lot into a small space.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Richard. My gingers are all grown in black plastic tubs and they are fed with a slow release fertiliser and then tomato food throughout the season. They are kept in quite a sheltered spot and watered well. They flower every year without fail, even new ones, occasionally twice on a second flush of shoots.

      I would definitely suggest refreshing the compost around any potted bulbs, rhizomes or tubers every year, with the exception of those that dislike disturbance, such as nerines and agapanthus. Large bulbs may sometimes divide after flowering and take a year or two to build up to flowering size again. Feeding will speed that process up.


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