Blooming dahlias go on show

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PASSION: Growing dahlias is a labour of love for Jeanette (pictured) and John Cuthbertson, who recently returned from national events with a haul of trophies.
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For the first time in a decade the South Island National Dahlia show is back in Ashburton .
It will see 54 exhibitors from as far as Auckland and Invercargill put their best and brightest blooms on show.
National Dahlia Society of New Zealand secretary Jeanette Cuthbertson, of Hinds, and husband John are veteran flower show participants attending shows all over the country for around 30 years.
The couple have been battling the hot weather to keep their choice flowers at their best leading up to the show, but Jeanette said they won’t know what they are entering until the day before.
‘‘We’ll pick on Friday morning then we’ll treat them all then decide what to enter that afternoon.’’
Exhibiting their dahlias started as a bit of healthy competition with a friend.
‘‘A friend of ours from Invercargill came up and said ‘I’ve got better dahlias than you’ so we thought well we have to prove it, and that was it we got the bug,’’ Jeanette said.
Two years ago the couple won the Champion of Champion award at the show for their Embrace Dahlia.
Jeanette said dahlias are special because they last a long time, and they don’t have a smell.
‘‘I can have them flowering here from November right through to the end of March.’’
Dahlia’s originate from Mexico and may be stunning to look at but Jeanette said they take work to care for, particularly with the hot weather this summer.
‘‘They are a lot of work, you need to disbud, keep them fed and watered, stake them and with the hot weather you have to keep watering them.’’
There is a wide variety of classifications of dahlias including cactus, decorative, balls, pom-poms, waterlily, orchid and stars.
Jeanette said people should come along to have a look at some lovely flowers. ‘‘It will be an array of colour.’’
The South Island National Dahlia show is on at the Tinwald Memorial Hall, corner Graham and McMurdo streets, on 18 and 19 February. Gold coin entry