Bloomin’ Good Time

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Written by Hilary Berg, Staff Writer

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh made his famous solo, non-stop transatlantic flight in the Spirit of St. Louis. The same year, Swan Island Dahlias planted their first tubers.

For Oregonians, there’s no need to catch a plane to experience the almost 40 acres of stunning dahlias in full bloom from August to September. With no admission or parking fees, visitors can witness the stunning display of colors and textures that inspire art, poetry and more in the charming town of Canby.

For Nicholas Gitts and his family, dahlias are their everyday, and have been since 1963. Although the company is named for its original location a few miles downriver from downtown Portland, the operation calls Canby home. Now managed by the second and third generations, Swan Island Dahlias remains the nation’s largest dahlia grower.

Primarily a mail-order company, Swan Island Dahlias ships more than 500,000 tubers across the U.S. and Canada every spring. However, the Gitts family offers fresh-cut flowers during the summer months, along with a charming farm and gift shop open year-round that is undergoing a huge remodel, set to open in August 2023.

To celebrate the blooms, Swan Island Dahlias hosts the nation’s largest dahlia festival in August and September with something for everyone: art classes, music concerts, food trucks, a Sunday Market and, of course, gorgeous fields for strolling among 375-plus varieties.

For Swan Island Dahlias manager Heather Gitts-Schloe, Mikayla Miranda remains one of her favorites. “She is stunning, low growing, a great cut flower and a show stopper!” As for the most unusual, Schloe says look for the Japanese Bishop with its striking black foliage and red flowers.

While visiting, be sure to choose some tubers to order for your own garden. In Oregon, Schloe recommends waiting until the ground is workable and warm to plant — typically around Mother’s Day, as you can plant usually late April through May.

She offers more advice: “In our climate, do not water the tubers when you plant them. Instead, wait to water them when the green sprout appears above the ground. Then, they will need lots of deep watering during the summer months to thrive in full sun.”

Whether you’re seeking fresh-cut flowers or tubers to create your own mosaic of blooms, Swan Island is THE place for dahlias. Mark your calendars, clean your vases and get ready for unforgettable arrangements. Visit us online at