August 22, 2010

That’s The Million Dahlia Question

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — geoff @ 1:15 pm

Good morning and greetings, back to school fans. That’s right, the new school year begins for us today and I haven’t seen my teenage toddlers this excited since “The Office” went into syndication. For us graduated students, this means that Indian Summer must be on the way, because we’ve had enough of this Indian Winter. But through the clouds and fog and the non-stop chatter from LeBron James, the birds are still singing and the flowers are blooming. And that’s where our magical mystery tour takes us today.

Welcome to Sunrise Santa Cruz’s wonderful world of color. As I cruise the westside along Delaware Avenue listening to the Doobie Brothers on NPR while thinking of ways to make this world a bitter, er better place, I often pass a front yard that explodes with pinks, purples, oranges, yellows, reds, downers and seconals. It is truly dahlia central, or for you Clint Eastwood fans, “A Fistfull of Dahlias.”

Well, hello dahlias. These tuberous perennials are spectacular summer and autumn flowering plants who are native to the mountains of Mexico, Central America and ridge in northern New Jersey. They are also, along with the lovely Selma Hayek, the national flower of Mexico and a particular favorite of the Gulf Cartel, who are big on sending flowers along with a message to that special someone. And for you City by the Bay fans, the dahlia is the official flower of San Francisco, joining garlic fries and green onion pancakes.

In the 16th century, those fun-loving Spanish conquistadors, while busy pillaging and wiping out the Aztec Indian nation, took some time out from their conquering to seach for the perfect chips and salsa to go along with a super burrito. They also managed to do a little exploring and turned these little side trips into a collection of new world plant life, while at the same time terrorizing and enslaving the Aztecs and completely taking the fun out of Cinco de Mayo.

These brilliant flowers were discovered growing wild on the sandy hillsides of Mexico, along with early sketches of the Frito Bandito and a Carlos Santana acoustic CD. The Aztecs gathered and cultivated the dahlia for food, ceremonies, as well as decorative items for open houses, pagan weddings and bar mitzvahs.

The dahlia is named after 18th century Swedish botanist Anders Dahl, who was a lovely man and quite a salsa dancer. And because of his striking looks, it was from this Swedish cupcake that the expression was coined, “Hey, dahlface.”

In 1872, a box of dahlia roots were sent by FedEx overnight from Mexico to the Netherlands along with a crate of flour tortillas. Only one of the plants and a chicken quesadilla survived the long journey, but it produced brilliant red flowers with petals that were pointed and rolled back that were later very popular with red light district shoppers and guacamole fans.

Nurserymen, kindergarteners and first graders from all over Europe bred from this one plant. These are the progenitors of the thousands of varieties of today’s modern day dahlias. As you can see from today’s photo six-pack, they are an incredibly exotic and wild looking flower, which is the same way I would describe my daughter Aimee in her formative years.

For flower lovers and Salvador Dahlia fans, dahlias symbolize commitment, long-lasting bonds and treasury notes. When given as a gift, the dahlia expresses sentiments of dignity, elegance and the fact the giver didn’t want to spend more than $10. For me, dahlias represents the fabulous and outrageous color that the Commisioner upstairs gives us during the summer season. Throw in a few roses and the fruitopia of watermelon, cantelope, won’t commit, cherries, peaches, nectarines, U.S. Marines and the joys of New York Yankee baseball, and this is what makes the canine days of August so delightful.

Here’s a little taste of the late night. “According to the Wall Street Journal, there is a growing movement among Democrats to replace Joe Biden as VP with Hillary Clinton in 2012. Do you realize that if that happens, for the first time Hillary will be directly under a president.” –Jay Leno “President Obama had a 24-hour vacation on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The president was there to promote tourism in the Gulf. He even jumped into the Gulf to prove it was safe. Unfortunately, he did a cannonball right onto a pelican.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Al-Jazeera’s English-speaking channel was nominated for an International Emmy. On the red carpet, Joan Rivers will be like, ‘Who are you wearing? And why is it ticking?’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s my tribute to the Dahlia Lama. Remember, laughter is an audible expression or the appearance of happiness that may ensue from jokes, tickling or reading hybred photo blogs. And birthday wishes go out Wednesday to my old Santa Cruz pal Joel Serber, who’s now living in Portland and still can’t believe the Blazers didn’t draft Kevin Durant. We’ll catch in the bullpen. Aloha, mahalo and later, Roger Clemens fans.


  1. Today’s post reminded me of that old TV show, “Dialing for Dahlias”. Those sure are some pretty flowers…

    Comment by Eduardo Nunez — August 23, 2010 @ 6:59 am

  2. Nice photos. Do you remember there was a dalhia farm on the way to De Anza near Delaware Ave back in the Seventies? This was before your interest in ornamental botanicals, rather than your field research at UCSC Arboretum.

    Comment by Hello, Dahlia — August 23, 2010 @ 11:15 am

  3. WOW! Great photos.

    Comment by Babs — August 23, 2010 @ 1:08 pm

  4. hey, very clever title! Laughed out loud when I saw it. Thanks for mentioning me, and amazing photos. I’m glad your excited for the school year, haven’t seen that much excitement since jason saw that squirrel in his bed.

    Comment by the flower girl — August 23, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

  5. LOVE your photos of these flowers.
    I’d like to post them on our website.
    Your payment, you ask?
    how about “a dahla”

    Comment by Wendi — August 24, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

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