Reminder: Edmonds’ official flower, the dahlia, topic of April 18 Floretum Garden Club virtual meeting

Martin Kral

“How the Dahlia Returned to America” is the topic of this month’s Edmonds Floretum Garden Club meeting, set for 11:15 a.m. Monday, April 18 via Zoom.

The speaker is dahlia expert Martin Kral, and his talk will focus on the plant’s development from its Mexican roots to hybridization of the species and its prominence in the Pacific Northwest today.

The dahlia also happens to be Edmonds’ official flower.

After 51 years of growing dahlias, Kral has developed a keen understanding of his favorite flowers. He started with one dahlia (the dark-foliaged Japanese Bishop) and, like so many gardeners soon found himself with dozens of them after just one season.

He then learned about other varieties from dahlia club members, and off he went on a quest for ever-prettier flowers. He joined the local Puget Sound Dahlia Association and became a contributor and editor of its annual publication. He began focusing on other publications, and his dahlia photo collection now has about 4,000 photos for use in magazines.

As he collected books on dahlias, Kral discovered there were many inconsistencies in their botanical and historical descriptions. That led to an interest in the origin and taxonomy of species dahlias in their homeland of Mexico. Kral is a native of Austria with fluency in several languages, and he corresponds with many international specialists and archives. His findings have appeared in the annual Dahlias of Today and in Of Dahlia Myths and Aztec Mythology. He presents on dahlia culture to American clubs and at international meetings in Europe and Mexico.

Kral retired from an administrative job at Seattle Parks & Recreation. He currently raises some 120 dahlia varieties and nine species, along with a collection of tropical plants. He and his wife live in Shoreline.

The public is welcome to attend Kral’s virtual presentation. For the Zoom link, email edmondsfloretum@hotmail.com.

Now celebrating its centennial year, the Edmonds Floretum Garden Club will hold its 99th annual plant sale on Saturday, May 7 from 9 a.m. to noon at the United Methodist Church on Caspers Street. The club’s centennial celebrations are in full swing with 6,000 daffodils blooming around Edmonds now, an art installation On the Fence at Frances Anderson Center, and a history exhibit opening at Edmonds Historical Museum on April 30. Learn more at edmondsfloretumgardenclub.org.

 

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