Thursday, October 21, 2010

Let's have something pretty

A bouquet of dahlias at the Pike Place Market. The florists' stalls at the market are brimming this time of year with seasonal flowers, and the strikingly colorful blooms of dahlias are everywhere.

Dahlias are native to Central and South America. Dahlia plants are unique in the fact that they are octoploid, or have eight sets of chromosomes. Most plants and animals are diploid, having two sets of chromosomes - one from each parent. The Dahlia's polyploid nature means that there are many more genetic combinations possible, arising to thousands of cultivars in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and flower shapes. The petals can be broad and shaggy, narrow and pointed as quills, or curled and tightly packed, as these ball or pompon type blossoms. Dahilas are tuberous perennials, and tubers are easily divided and shipped - meaning once a breeder has created a unique variety, it's easy to produce and sell.

Many of the flowers sold in the Pike Place Market are grown in the low fertile valleys of King and Snohomish Counties by Hmong immigrant farmers. It surprised me to learn this, after visiting Los Angeles' flower market and seeing how so many cut flowers are imported from other countries. I'd like to learn more about Washington's cut flower trade, and how so many refugees from war-torn Laos came to cultivate such beauty.

We're back in Los Angeles now - more stories later.


Sue said...

Those are really gorgeous. I want to grow some. I wonder if I can do that to research!

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Dahlias were Kristen's (my oldest daughters) wedding flower. She chose three lovely shades, merlot, lavender, and a deep orange for her wedding colors and found flowers to match. She researched and found out just about all you'd ever want to know about these flowers. She talked to several eco-friendly growers directly, and ordered from them.

I did not know about the Hmong farmers in Washington. Can't wait to read more stories. Welcome home.

Blondie's Journal said...

These are just gorgeous!!


Anonymous said...

Welcome home!

I remember the "boat people" immigrants moving into the area in the 1970's. Since my own extended family had settled in far-flung (continental US) locales, it was fascinating to observe the fierce family togetherness. There was no doubt in my mind that these newcomers to the area would work hard and prosper. I look forward to hearing more about these farmers.

Gilly said...

I love those dahlias - that sort are one of my favourites! They have all gone from UK gardens now - frost and cold winds have set in!

Really lovely bright colours, and a great photo!