Tuesday 31 December 2013

Plant of the Year 2013: Dahlia 'Twyning's Revel'

The first flush of flowers on 'Twyning's Revel' in August, coupled with excellent glossy dark foliage on a stocky plant.
My Plant of the Year 'award' is given to a plant that has given particular pleasure in my garden during the course of the year, performing well and looking good during its season.There were three candidates this year: Salvia 'Amistad' for its exceptionally long period of flower; Dahlia 'Etheral' for its long season of charm and Dahlia 'Twyning's Revel' for its impact over several months. In the end I have decided for 'Twyning's Revel', whose vibrant colour never failed to draw attention, but yet worked well with plants around it.

There are a number of dahlias with the prefix Twyning's, the best known of which is 'Twyning's After Eight' with single white flowers over dark foliage - fun, but I find it difficult to combine with other plants. All have been raised by Mark Twyning, of Winchester Growers in Cornwall, who hold the National Plant Collection of dahlias. An interesting article was written about him and his plants by Val Bourne in The Garden, September 2010. He favours singles in unusual colours, and many of his plants are becoming increasingly well known. I shall certainly seek out others for next year. My plant of 'Twning's Revel' (raised in 2007) came from Avon Bulbs, as a beautifully grown rooted cutting (along with several others), arriving just before I went south for Chelsea. I had the choice of leaving them indoors in sub-ideal conditions (low light and still air), or putting them in the ground directly. As there were signs that the weather was then finally warming up I put them out, where they took off and flourished brilliantly.

The flowers on 'Twyning's Revel' are a mixture of intense pink and orange, but set against the excellent dark foliage the combination works, and at least with their immediate companions in the border there was no clash of colour. I think one would have to work out placement and companions carefully if planting a mass of them, but it would certainly make a statement in the garden. I will propagate mine next year by division of the tubers and by cuttings if possible, but the Avon Bulbs spring catalogue arrived yesterday and I see that they are again offering cutting-raised plants for May delivery. They and Winchester Growers are the only sources listed in the RHS Plant Finder 2013.

Early morning, with Lythrum virgatum 'Rosy Gem'

'Twyning's Revel' lurking behind Sanguisorba 'Blackthorn', adding depth at its base.

The number of ray florets per 'flower' varies somewhat and the presence of an odd curled one or two in the centre would annoy a perfectionist, but in the garden it makes no difference.

This section of the border I can see from my desk: it's fairly obvious why 'Twyning's Revel' caught my eye! This picture was taken early in the morning in early September, of a border planted in May. 


  1. I've moved dahlias back to the vegetable/cutting garden -- I just can't get the hang of growing them lustrous and healthy in a mixed border, like yours for example. That one is a beaut.


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