Hello from The Beau

Reading time 8 minutes

Dan, in a moment of madness, has decided that he would like me to contribute now and again to his Frustrated Gardener blog. As I am also a keen gardener, I decided to accept his kind offer, and so here I am.

For me, gardening has always been a pleasure and a joy, unless my back has gone. I started early, around the age of 11 or 12. At the time we had a small garden in Cambridgeshire that had a smattering of plants here and there. My family didn’t really care much for them: the garden was nothing fancy or organised and I took it upon myself to dig them all up, one-by-one, and ‘create’ a garden more pleasing to the eye. I don’t recall the reaction to my artistry, but I do remember feeling joy and happiness simply by having my hands in the soil and touching plants – the wonder of gardening already had me in its grasp.

Baby Beau

Over the years my tastes evolved. Leaving behind the traditionally more acceptable begonias, pelargoniums and busy Lizzies of my Gran’s garden, I became more and more tempted and distracted by all things tropical….it would be a temptation that has stayed with me for life.

Fast forward 20 or so years to 2003 and I lived, with my partner, in a ground floor garden flat in South East London; our first home together. We had the use of a shared garden and so, in the border directly outside our windows, we created a little piece of tropical heaven. We had dahlias, brugmansias, gingers, tree ferns, cannas and bananas. The neighbours really loved what we had done: for such a small space it was magical.

The tropics of South East London (Marmora Road, SE22)

The following spring we moved into a garden flat that would be our home for almost 10 years. In that garden we created what I still believe is our greatest work – it was utterly glorious. The garden was pretty much a blank canvas, which we transformed into our very own tropical paradise.

The blank canvas

Our garden was quite traditional in its nature, a rose here, a Fuchsia magellanica there, a number of lovely peonies, you get the gist. However, what it lacked was absolutely anything even remotely tropical. Within the first couple of years, we decided to remedy that, big time.


We brought in giant tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica), tree peonies, gingers, lots and lots and lots of bananas (Musa basjoo), architectural plants such as inula and rheum, gloriously scented lilies; it went on and on and on. I LOVED it and so did the Hens and the dogs.

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Going bananas…

In the late 2000s I purchased my very first Dahlia imperialis – who knew such a beauty existed? I didn’t, until I had one.

Which leads me to my other gardening obsession – dahlias and, in particular, species dahlias. Over the years I have been slowly purchasing any that catch my eye. For me, the absolute star of the show is and will always be Dahlia campanulata – she is a corker!

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Dahlia campanulata

I discovered Dahlia campanulata after the dogs and I moved to Cornwall and lived, coincidentally, a couple of miles from the National Dahlia Collection near Penzance.

The flowers are utterly sensational, as big as my hands. They’re droopy, flouncy, blousy, pink and gorgeous. It is also called the weeping tree dahlia. When you check them out you will see why.

In the polytunnel I had in Cornwall, Dahlia campanulata regularly topped 14 feet and arching stems of blooms would open at eye level (I’m 6ft tall). I cannot ever do this plant justice, nor convey just how much I adore it. Any and every gardener able to care for it should most definitely add it to their collection. They will not be disappointed.

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Weeping blooms of Dahlia campanulata

Whilst in Cornwall I stumbled upon a blog written by a man I found most intriguing and just a little bit attractive. Initially my interest was predominantly garden based. I would look forward to his blog posts, excited to read about his gardens and find out what plant and dahlias I should be looking out for next. However, as I became more interested in his blog, I also became more interested in him. Not long after we started dating, Cupid introduced himself by way of a massive arrow to my heart. Almost eight months later here I am in the Frustrated Gardener’s garden, life and home. There is nowhere the pups and I would rather be.

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Love is…

I hope you’ve found my introduction interesting. I wanted to try and convey my love of gardening and tropical plants. Hopefully, I have gone some way to doing that.

For those of you who know Dan and his blog, my aim here is only to participate now and again. This isn’t a ‘take over’ or me trying to ‘gild the lily’. Anyway, how can one improve on that which needs no improvement?

Now, go and order that Dahlia campanulata from here. You know you want to!

Happy Gardening One and All.

The Beau.

Categories: blogging, Dahlias, Flowers, Foliage, Garden Design, gingers, lilies, London, Perennials, Plants, Small Gardens, Tropical Gardens, Urban Gardens

Posted by The Beau

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78 comments On "Hello from The Beau"

  1. Love reading the Beau’s contribution! His voice begins to round-out the whole Dan-story. Happy New Year to you both.

  2. Thank you very much for sharing your story with us. It was a pleasure to read about your interest in gardening and the passion for plants, including your beloved dahlias. You and Dan have found each other in a magical way and you both look so happy together completing each other. I hope to see you both in Dan’s posts, sharing your passion with all of us. I’m looking forward to seeing your part in writing and posting photos. Best greetings and wishes for the new year 2020 for the both of you 🙂

    1. Thank you for your lovely words Paul. The future is rather exciting….I will post more in the future….
      Happy New Year to you and yours.

    1. So lovely to hear from you.. I presume I can now look out for the both of you at Chelsea and Hampton!

    2. There aren’t any……yet….perhaps I can muster up a dog and gardening related post at some point in the future 😉

  3. It sounds as if you are perfectly matched! Sadly my little mountain top slice of heaven will not allow for tropical plants out in the garden….so I shall live vicariously through you and Dan.

    1. Well, he’s pretty perfect for me, so that’s something 🙂

      Be prepared for plenty more dahlia posts…..

  4. Welcome John. I can see why you and Dan are so well suited, but I am thinking you are going to have to look for a bigger place, no way is the Jungle and G&T garden going to be big enough for the both of you!

  5. Lovely post, what a gardening journey! I’m still a little nostalgic for the Devonshire Road garden, though you did turn it into a glorious jungle in your time there, and I loved the chickens 🙂 x

    1. Lovely, lovely landlady! Thank you for your comment…..I miss that garden very much. If I’d know it’s journey I would have emptied it completely. However, I do hope at least some of the plants are still in existence, they were marvellous.xx

  6. Hello! Lovely to hear about your side of the garden.
    My sister has just moved from the shires to Ramsgate so i will be hoping to get lots of tips to help her make her new garden

  7. So good to meet you Beau. Having gardening in common is a great foundation to a relationship. Congrats to both of you. I will look forward to reading your take on the garden. I am sure there will be changes. I am just worried that you guys will need a larger garden. I am always amazed that you can grow so many things outside year round. Here where I garden it is brown and gray. I will look for some tropical inspiration here. I can certainly see why you love the dahlia campanulata and the Frustrated Gardener.

    1. Changes, positive ones, are already taking place and we are excited to be able to share them with you, eventually. Nothing like a New Year project to put a spring in your step and release you from eating yet more Christmas cake!

  8. Thanks John for your interesting story, Dahlia campanulata has certainly been added to my ever lengthening list of must haves for next year.

    1. Keep up with the blog and we might just have some exciting news on that front……

      Happy New Year to you and yours.

  9. Happy to ‘meet’ you and hear your story. I live in Northern California wine country and read the blog religiously. I look forward to your contributions. It seems you and Dan have found a soul mate-not everyone is so lucky and I wish you a wonderful future together. Garden On !

    1. I count my lucky stars very regularly when it comes to Dan 🙂

      More input from me to follow now and again…

  10. I’ve only just become acquainted with dahlias and am bowled over by them 😊. Thanks for the name ‘campanulata’ – will look them out.

    1. You won’t be disappointed.

      Can I recommend the species dahlia ‘coccinea’ too? It’s super…..fiery orange and single flowered and just perfect.

  11. Two for the price of one, what could be better?! Happy New Year to you both and here’s to a good gardening year for us all; salvias still going strong, first snowdrops out and camellias showing colour here as the cycle rolls on….

    1. Happy New Year to you too Sally.

      Don’t get me started on Salvias! I fear they may be my new obsession. I bought ‘dombeyii’ at the end of last year and I am hooked. I think it’s still flowering in the greenhouse now.

  12. We live in Durban, South Africa and lots of palms and banana trees in the area. I am amazed that Beau could grow a banana tree in London! Did it bear fruit at all? I love this blog, thank you.

  13. A wonderful and interesting blog I will look forward to reading your future ones.
    Kind regards

  14. Pleased to meet you! With such an outstanding gardening track record you and Dan make the perfect hybrid! Now an allotment too…that will keep you both very busy I’m sure!

    1. Anne, I fear any and all free time I may have had has now gone. It will be garden, allotment and work for the foreseeable future….not that I am complaining.

      Happy Gardening.

  15. A great read ! I met my husband John, not through blogging, but through a Post Grad in Landscape Architecture, it is so great isn’t it, when your partner shares a similar passion for design and plants.

    1. Thank you, I enjoyed writing it.

      Yes, meeting through a mutual love of something, having that connection already established, is wonderful.

  16. Aww that’s such a lovely post! I live near Truro and we are growing on a small scale for florists and diy wedding flowers, I am totally going to get that dahlia – we’ve already visited the national collection at Varfell and the wish list is long! Look forward to hearing more from you both in 2020

    1. I moved here from Rosudgeon, just outside Marazion. I miss the Cornish coast and countryside, however, we will be regularly returning to see friends and family.

      I know the feeling, whenever I went to Varfell I always wondered where I would put all the ones I wanted.

  17. What a lovely history with a happy ending. I discovered dahlias a while ago but sadly we don’t have a garden here in Hong Kong. Maybe one day I will be able to treat myself to that Dahlia campanulata.

    1. I am already envious of the plants you would have available in HK…..campanulata would do well there.

  18. Lovely post John…particularly like the Baby Beau image…Will be lovely to have a ‘special’ guest blogging from time to time. I have also become obsessed with Dahlias and for the first time I am growing them in pots. Thank you Dan and Dixter for this direction! Very different from having them direct into the garden. They don’t seem to have sprung to life as quickly as when in the ground. Anyway – time will tell. Happy Gardening….

  19. Dear Dan & John, I ‘stopped by’ to read the blog at 2am after my little daughter woke in the night. After she’d settled I lay awake and found myself wanting to read something familiar (I read the blog regularly) and comforting, given the current state of the world. As ever I found your words uplifting and inspiring. Thank you. Lovely to see you both so happy and hear your gardening thoughts, too, John. And yes – I’m now sorely tempted to buy a tree dahlia! X

    1. Hi! I’m sorry you didn’t have a good night’s sleep, but glad you had the opportunity to read John’s first post. Hopefully it will be the first of many!

      Tree dahlias are all well and good so long as you have space and are patient. Some will not flower unless it’s a long, hot summer. Dahlia tenuicaulis is quite reliable when it comes to flowering and can get very tall indeed.

      Here’s to a better night’s sleep tonight.

  20. Lovely to meet the Beau.
    Fabulous Dahlia…now how to sell it to the husband !
    Wishing everyone a pleasurable and fruitful gardening year.

  21. What a lovely story! I’m always interested in how love “blooms” in the most wonderful way! Good luck to you both in your life together. I am especially looking forward to your tales from the allotment!

  22. I love hearing the stories of how people met. You two seem perfectly suited. We’ve long felt The Beau’s happy, supportive presence from behind the scenes but it’s nice for him to share in the front of house blog duties too!

  23. Oh, Hello, You’re the guy with the same name as Beau, the 1967 Chevrolet C10. His name is short for . . . something else . . . that I’m sure Dan did not tell you about. Anyway, there is no need to get into that.
    Writing can become a bad habit. Moderation is a good plan.
    Dahlia imperialis was popular here in the 1980s, and then became a fad in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but then suddenly disappeared. I can understand it no longer being a fad, but I sort of wonder where the established plants went. Almost all were simple single pink. I grew only one that was double white, and only because I did not want it to be discarded from the garden where it came from. Dahlia campanulata is still very uncommon. I do not believe it can be found in nurseries yet. The few that I see are mostly not maintained properly. Those who grow them do not cut out the old canes until they are very dead. (They might prefer to leave the old canes because the plants may still be young.) It does not get very cold here, but it gets cool enough to grubby the foliage slightly before bloom. I do not believe that they are blooming yet, but I have not been looking for them either. Once they bloom, they are not easy to ignore, not because they are brightly colored or profuse with bloom, but because they look so odd. They are sort of like a familiar, although less refined, dahlia, but very tall.

  24. Hi Beau, just a quick cheeky question… would it be possible for us to use your picture of Dahlia campanulata on our nursery website please. I would of courser credit you and provide a link to your site if you would like me to. Hope this is OK, all the best, Rich

    1. Hello Rich, yes that’s no problem. Please credit me and use frustratedgardener.com

      With thanks

  25. Hi Beau, love your garden and in particular your Dahlia Campanulata, of which I have just got some seeds. Just wondering if you have ever grow them from seed – any advice would be great, Noel

    1. Hello Noel, I’m afraid I’ve never tried growing campanulata from seed. I got mine as tubers. However, I’d be very interested to hear how you get on….keep me updated 👍🏼 🌸

  26. What an amazing Dahlia ! I have grown it from seed 3 yrs ago and now have 2 large clumps of tubers which grow really well but every year get burnt by frost just at the point of flowering. (I am based in Bournemouth). I see you grow yours in a polytunnel so I’m presuming this is the only way to achieve flowering ? Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated, Noel

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