There's an old man down the road from where we live, and he keeps a classically old man garden: trim and clipped and nary a leaf where it shouldn't be. Around the edges of his front lawn he grows dahlias. I'm not sure if they're prize-winning dahlias but they are of a startling size and colour and I wouldn't be surprised to see them in a wine bottle at the next horticultural society event at St Albie's hall (I love flower shows).
It's not how I grow flowers; I'm more an all in together, how much can we fit in this space kind of a gal. But there's something to be said for setting things out so carefully, so evenly spaced, so that each plant, each great big bloom, draws my focus in tightly. Each morning on my way to work I walk past the white picket fence and stop for a moment to look at the architecture and the more-varied-than-you-might-think colours of the dahlias. Sometimes, when he's feeling particularly gallant after one of our chats, the old man (is his name Tom? I have a feeling it is ..) cuts me a few flowers to take home, and hands them over with a wink.
I love this one the most, it's like the beginnings of an Eric Carle flower, bearing the brush strokes proudly.
I'm timing my trips home to catch the old man watering his garden, so that I can ask for a stub of the root. Somehow, this seems less bold than knocking on his front door, though I'm not sure why; what gardener isn't thrilled when someone loves a plant so much they want to take a little bit home?