First-ever Triple National Dahlia Champion | Love The Garden

First-ever Triple National Dahlia Champion

John Clowes's picture
By John Clowes, Gardening Guru
Dave Gillam with one of his award winning Dahlias

Dave Gillam with one of his favourite dahlias, Sir Alf Ramsey and Miracle-Gro Expand ‘n Gro Compost

Dave Gillam of Stock in Essex has been awarded National Individual Champion awards at each of the English (Shepton Mallet), Welsh and Scottish National Dahlia Society competitions.

These 3 awards have never before been won in a single year by 1 exhibitor. The Individual Champion class at each National Dahlia Society show asks for 5 vases of different types containing 5 blooms. In the fourth major event, the Northern National Show, Dave was just one point away from first place.

Last year, Dave won many prizes for his show dahlias at regional and national shows, winning County Champion and Silver Medal (Best in Show) awards at the Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Midlands and Welsh National Dahlia shows.

For the second year running Dave relied on Miracle-Gro Plant Food and Tomorite feeds to help produce large, perfect dahlia blooms that were regularly awarded first prize and Best in Show for his vases of late summer flowers. The only difference in culture for his 870 plants was that Dave chose to rely on Miracle-Gro Expand ‘n Gro Compost for taking cuttings and for planting in his heavy Essex soil.

Miracle-Gro Expand ‘n Gro Compost

Rooting of the new year’s cuttings in this coir compost started in mid-winter and they grew into strong plants that had a bigger and better root system than those in previous years. “This coir compost produces a different sort of root system,” according to Dave. “The stem produces more multiple growth points, so that the root system is more fibrous and has more branches. Another benefit of coir is that the good drainage and aeration means that root rots are rarely seen.”

When it comes to spring top growth, the new plants grew steadily and consistently. “The growth was strong without romping into fast, soft growth,” Dave explains. “That’s because the majority of the nutrients in the compost are held in slow-release Osmocote granules.”

When planting out the rooted cuttings in his back garden soil this champion grower decided to improve each of 870 planting holes with plenty of Miracle-Gro Expand ‘n Gro compost and a liberal addition of water-holding crystals. “In this way the roots are surrounded with an ideal medium that is free draining, yet is able to hold onto lots of moisture and liquid nutrients that I use regularly to ensure tip-top quality blooms.”

With his ‘secrets of success’ proven as real winners, Dave Gillam is now finished for the exhibition season for another year. He is seen here with one of his favourite Giants called Sir Alf Ramsey - a pink/lavender blush that grows bigger than the size of a dinner plate, thanks to Miracle-Gro.


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