Mum’s Not the Word

Dahlias take the day at an event at Bullington Gardens.

Dahlias take the day at an event at Bullington Gardens.

Hardy chrysanthemums are perhaps the most common fall flower, blooming in September and October in an obliging array of autumnal colors. But another seasonal flower, the dahlia, inspires poetry, endless hybrids, book-character names, clothing companies, serious competition at county fairs, and lionization: it is the much-celebrated national flower of Mexico.

The tuberous plant, whose flowers can span from an inch to a foot wide, can be cultivated in every color but blue. Blooms might be tight and closed (the “pompom” variety) or wild and spidery, with many, many variations along the spectrum.

Bullington Gardens in Henderson County is a panorama of dahlias, featuring more than 450 individual dahlias in 150 varieties. Their “Dahlia Daze” event happens Tuesday, September 22 through Friday, September 25. Bullington’s dahlia expert Brian Killingsworth will lead tours at 1 and 2pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; on Thursday, at 3pm, award-winning Ikebana designer Carol Mickewich will lead a demonstration of that ancient Japanese flower-arranging art, with the dahlia as the main attraction.

95 Upper Red Oak Trail. Free. 828-698-6104. www.bullingtongardens.org.

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