Marisa Laycock was stunned by the variety at Aylett’s Dahlia Field and Celebration Garden The scent of damp earth underfoot permeates the air. I step into this spectacular garden and am immediately presented with a sea of dazzling dahlias in every colour you could imagine. The sky is overcast but the quiet dull clouds overhead only enhance the startling colours.

Now in its fourth year, Aylett’s famous home-grown dahlia field and celebration garden were originally created to the celebrate its 60th year of business back in 2015. Open from June to December every year, it has become part of the National Garden Scheme, with over sixty species of dahlias putting on a show. I’d never realised that Aylett’s has been growing and nurturing dahlias for the past 60 years and, unsurprisingly, has won over fifty Gold RHS medals over the years.

The dahlias have been neatly arranged in rows, displaying sixty dahlia plant varieties in total. It’s fascinating how just one species of flower can offer so many rich forms of colour and size, from perfectly spherical pompoms flushed in powder pinks to robust, star-shaped ‘Arabian nights’ in the deepest burgundy. Everywhere I look, dahlias flower prolifically. Resilient, thick petals unfurl in every shade imaginable, some reaching more than ten inches in diameter.

I walk up and down, in between the rows, my head spinning with every shade from lemon, ivory, and peachy pinks to dazzling darker tones of fuchsias and purples. Countless elaborate names like Irish glow, Ms Kennedy and Glorie Van Heemsted match their glamorous ruffles. I stop and stare at a dahlia with a collarette; it almost looks as if has been artificially embellished to create a wow factor and would make the perfect red taffeta dress finished in frills and lace. Fashion designers are endlessly inspired by the intricacies of such floral colours, textures, shapes and forms. St Albans & Harpenden Review: The history of the dahlia dates from Aztec times and to this day it remains the national flower of Mexico. The first seeds were sent to Spain in the 18th Century and eventually to England. It was considered to be an exotic flower. Dahlias have the longest bloom season of any other garden flower. They flower prolifically, thriving in the sunlight and need plenty of room to develop and to be sheltered from strong winds. I’m relieved that they have survived the recent blazing heat we had in early August.

I wander deeper along a grassy path and wind my way through this beautiful celebration garden, with its mixed borders packed with shrubs, perennials, herbaceous plants and wildflowers. A mix of contrasting colour upon colour awakens my senses. A spectacle of shapes and harmonious colour combinations. Ornamental grasses enhance the floral spectacle, adding a sense of lushness and movement. I stand beside a giant purple thistle, rugged textured and tough. It’s so tall that it towers over me! It has a strong presence and nothing’s going to stop this thriving species from bursting into life. St Albans […]