After walking around Richard's dahlia field a few times, I had to make some difficult choices: which dahlias would I buy? I wanted a mixture - when you buy dahlias wholesale, you usually have five or ten of the same variety or colour, so it's quite a treat to be able to pick 'n' mix different colours, forms and sizes.
Richard walked around with me and cut the flowers I wanted, trimming the bottom leaves off. I'd sometimes slow down and pause by a particular dahlia, and Richard would carry on talking (it was lovely to walk around the field and chat to him) and wait for me to ask what the dahlia was called and ask for a stem. It was hard knowing which to choose - I liked so many of them!
In the end, I got three pompons - Prom, Dunaj, and Fenstergucker...
I also got some anemone and collarette dahlias: Blue Bayou, Fashion Monger (aka Flower Monger), and Pooh (as in Winnie, although Richard says this red and yellow dahlia reminds him more of Rupert the Bear).
Withypitts Dahlias is not too far from the Hundred Acre Wood and Poohsticks Bridge where Winnie the Pooh played Poohsticks with his friends. A Winnie the Pooh walk has been on my to-do list for years. As ever, I do more as a tourist in far away places than I do as a local in nearby ones, so while I've not visited the locations in Sussex, I have visited the Winnie the Pooh statue in Winnipeg, Canada. (That wasn't a special trip just for the statue; I was visiting my aunt!)
I got a few dahlias for their name as much as their beauty. The dark red cactus dahlia, Black Narcissus, in particular - you know how much I love my films! I've still to make my improved, spring Black Narcissus posy - I'll try to remember next year. Here is the dahlia next to (I think - I didn't write it down) Polka.
Another couple of wonderfully-named dahlias are the orange Arc de Triomphe and the cactus dahlia, Shooting Star.
Pippi is a cute name, but I think of this gorgeous orange and red flower as "The Lion King" - it reminds me of a scene when a young Simba sticks his head into a flower to look as though he has a mane.
This big, beautiful salmon-coloured dahlia is Carolina Wagermanns, and I haven't got the name written down on my list, but I think this pale pretty one is Bracken Ballerina.
This huge pink flower turned my head a few times in the flower field. It's called Bloemswaard.
I asked Richard for one of his best white dahlias and we went to the polytunnel, where he cut a stem of this: White Ballet. It lasted the longest out of all of the cut dahlias.
But this was my favourite: Thomas Edison. The flowerheads are massive, the petals are just perfect, and the dark maroon purple is luscious. And the man it was named after, by most accounts, was pretty cool.
I didn't want to mix anything with the dahlias; I just wanted them to sing on their own. I also didn't want to cut the long stems down at first...long stems are such an expense for a florist (compare the prices of 80 cm roses to 50 cm roses of the same variety), but I didn't have enough tall bud vases for them, so I had to cut some, otherwise they just wouldn't stand up.
Then I made a big handtied with them, but left the White Ballet on its own in my chicken vase.