Rodney Eason, CEO
Often, I am asked, “What is your favorite plant?” My response is usually along the lines of, “Well, it depends on the day and which plant I looked at last.”
I enjoy all plants (even poison ivy from a distance, with its amazing fall colors) but if I had to pick my top summer plants, dahlias would be on the list. Giant and brightly colored, these fleshy, hollow-stemmed annuals are the perfect garden antidote to our five-month-long Maine winters. Strategically planted at the Preserve’s Thuya and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Gardens, dahlias erupt through the borders in late summer with their saucer-sized flowers commanding the attention that they deserve.
I am always on the lookout for things that are new and different so when a tall, simple-flowered dahlia emerged within the Abby Garden borders, it piqued my interest. Compared to en vogue dahlias like the three- to four-foot tall ‘Café au Lait’ with their eight-inch dinner-plate sized blossoms, this unique species, Dahlia sorensensii, is around three inches in diameter while flowering at six to eight feet in height.
D. sorensenii or Sorensen’s dahlia, is a relatively new species, first described in 1997 by European botanists Hans Hansen and Jens Hjerting. They named this pink-flowering beauty after the noted dahlia expert, Dr. Paul Sorensen, a retired professor at Northern Illinois University. Dr. Sorensen wrote a monograph, or exhaustive description, on the genus Dahlia.
I love how our wonderfully talented team of garden designers and gardeners can tuck a more subtle flower, like Sorensen’s dahlia, into the billowy borders of the Abby Garden and make it flow with the rest of the garden’s composition.