I have very little experience with dahlias. I’ve never grown them, and the few times I’ve bought them, they have slumped over in the vase almost immediately, their heavy heads dragging them down, or they have withered so quickly, looking sickly and sad, that I have avoided dahlias instead of celebrating them like so many gardeners and florists do.
But on Saturday I found a lovely selection of dahlias and other locally sourced flowers at Local Color Flowers, which opens its warehouse doors on Saturdays. They are tucked away on a side street downtown (Brentwood Avenue) that is easy to miss, but if you keep circling around the block (31st Street and Greenmount Avenue) and finally find it, you won’t be disappointed.
It was crisp and windy and crowded in that part of town because of a bustling farmers’ market half a block away. Everyone seemed energized by the shift in the weather—in need of flowers and fresh food and coffee. As I entered the space, one chalkboard announced that the flowers were in honor of Irene’s wedding (a friend? employee?) and another reminded of an upcoming fall wreath-making workshop.
The flowers were displayed on a large worktable and invitingly within arms reach. You could choose your own stems and have a floral designer arrange and wrap them, or you could buy a ready-made bouquet. I was in awe of the dahlias (which were $2 a stem), so I bought a variety of those and mixed in some pink cosmos and globe amaranth (all other flowers were $1 a stem).
At home while I was distracted with other things, the flowers sat waiting to be arranged on the dining room table—in the perfect light (I was told later) for photographs. Here, then, are the champagne and burgundy and pale orange dahlias and the delicate pink cosmos close-up before they made it into my favorite white vase in the foyer.
I still don’t know that much about dahlias except that some say they are finicky to grow but worth the effort for their gorgeous, showy blooms and potentially long blooming season in the fall, and that I keep making up excuses to walk by them in the foyer and stare.