US (OR): The ‘Olympics of dahlia-dom’ is coming to Portland

If variety is — as an 18th-century English poet supposedly first put it — the spice of life, then dahlias are doubtless the spice of the horticultural world.

With more than 20 different forms, ranging from semi-cactus to pompon to mignon, blossoms from an inch to 16 inches, more than 20,000 varieties, and many, many more colors than your run-of-the-mill rainbow, it’s no wonder the plants have such an increasing number of loyal followers. And those followers will descend upon Portland — at least, those who don’t already live here — for the American Dahlia Society’s national show Aug. 24-28 (it’s open to the general public at no charge Aug. 26-27) at the Holiday Inn Portland Columbia Riverfront Hotel and Convention Center.

The show draws serious — serious as in, flying across the country with your prized dahlias flying alongside you — dahlia aficionados and those just curious about the plants that sport the lush, colorful blossoms that seem to be popping up everywhere this time of year.

“The show (it was also in Portland in 1968 and 2012) is considered the Olympics of dahlia-dom,” said Larry Smith of the Portland Dahlia Society, who has been growing dahlias for more than 30 years. “The Northwest is considered one of the premier climates in the world for growing dahlias, and some of North America’s most successful hybridizers operate in this area.”


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