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Do you remember when you learned to love flowers?

I grew up in the Northern suburbs of Sydney, Australia with lots of native Australian plants, grafted fruit trees and a very full and vibrant vegetable garden with asparagus and passionfruit vines. And when we were fortunate enough to visit our grandparents we would travel to New Zealand. As a child, my Nana taught me how to start apple trees from seeds that we had harvested from our own eating apples. Even with my love for growing vegetables, I have always loved flowers - from the Christmas bush growing wild across from our home that heralded the start of the Christmas season in Sydney to the scent of jasmine and gardenia that some lucky neighbors had in their gardens.

I was a bride in 2000 when my husband and I got married that cared about scented as well as beautiful flowers - requesting lilac roses by the hundreds maybe thousands to be in vases with local summer herbs. I really didn't know that much about flowers then but I've loved their peace and beauty forever. I've always known our local flower farmers at the farmer's markets by name and I look forward to seeing Matt and Glen at the Ravinia and Evanston farmer's markets every week.

We had the good fortune to move next to Anne and George back in May 2015 after we moved back from Sydney to the US. Anne and George are members of the Central States Dahlia Society and come July until frost their garden was filled with hundreds and hundreds of dahlia blooms in all colors. During our first summer on Grove Street I fell in love with them and spent hours and hours over next door learning their names and growth habits - Spartacus, Kelvin Floodlight, Steve Meggos, Wanda's Aurora and on and on. With their generous spirits and kind hearts, Anne and George taught me all about dahlias that year and the following May they gifted me some of my favorite dahlia tubers from the season before and walked me through starting my own tubers. That was it! I was hooked. I spent the summer of 2016 growing my own plants, creating bouquets and dreaming about their huge stunning intricate blooms. Once the season ended I missed them terribly but the following summer we relocated to Cleveland and by the time we got into our new home it was too late to plant tubers into the ground. By 2018 we were back to Chicago again and this time I moved 30 plus dahlia plants with me from Cleveland in the bottom of the moving truck. And since then I've grown dahlias in my garden every summer growing my collection year over year.

I'm so appreciative of all of my flower inspirations from my Nana, to my parents, to my sister Sara who is a huge vegetable gardener, to my flower farming friends who always have a smile ready for me at the market every week (and hopefully a handful of tuberose too) and finally to Anne and George who really taught me so much about dahlias.

#flowerfarm #dahlialove #dahlias #neighbors

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