Blooming glory

Randy Robbins, Pilot staff writer

Docia Sweet Hall appeared to have a giant rainbow within its doors with all the dahlias in bloom during the first Wild Rivers Dahlia Society show.

Brilliant hues filled the large room with orange, pink, purple, yellow, white, and scarlet reds greeting flower admirers who leisurely strolled from table to table during the show Saturday and Sunday at the Event Center on the Beach in Gold Beach.

More than 500 blooms were on display from growers who came from as far away as Portland and San Francisco. Blossoms ranged in size from the quarter-sized Mignon to the giant 14-inch Double A dahlias, according to Bob Chibante, Gold Beach resident and event organizer.

Chibante has always had a passion for petals. Growing up in a family of green thumbs, he learned the art of growing prize-winning dahlias from his parents, who learned the craft from Chibante's grandparents.

"I'm a nut. I know it. I'm up all hours of the night getting my dahlias ready to show," Chibante said.

He's apparently not alone.

Thousands of homes in the Pacific Northwest raise dahlias in their backyard gardens because the feathery tipped round shaped buds perform well here, Chibante said.

"They grow best between the months of July to November." Chibante said.

He explained the criteria for raising dahlias: "They aren't particularly needy as far as flowers go. Give them six hours of sun in well-drained soil and they're happy."

Chibante pointed to a grand champion triple bud entry grown in Coos Bay by Mike Iler. "That's our overall champion!"

What sets this specimen apart from the hundreds represented? Chibante lavished praise on the plant whose triple play of huge blazing yellow blooms sits neatly in a vase.

"It's perfect, really andhellip; the symmetry, the condition of the stalk and leaves andhellip; this is as good as it gets."

Awards were presented in several categories, including best design, best basket, best single bloom, and best seedling bench.

During the course of the festival, close to 300 visitors stopped in.

Gold Beach residents Bev Giroux and Diane Williams are back for the second day in a row.

"I had to come back and show her," Williams said. Giroux added, "Aren't they fantastic?"

For gardeners who want more information on growing dahlias,Chibante has a class at Bethany Lutheran Church, 94190 Fifth St., Gold Beach, on the first Thursday of each month. For more information contact Chibante at 541-373-0461.

The Curry Coastal Pilot
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