St Albans Dahlia Festival is blooming marvellous

PUBLISHED: 13:00 12 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:24 06 May 2010

LOVE them or loathe them, there is no getting away from the fact that the blooms on display at the annual Aylett Nurseries Dahlia Festival are a breathtaking sight. Not only are the flowers at the peak of perfection but they encapsulate most of the colour

LOVE them or loathe them, there is no getting away from the fact that the blooms on display at the annual Aylett Nurseries Dahlia Festival are a breathtaking sight.

Not only are the flowers at the peak of perfection but they encapsulate most of the colours of the rainbow.

This year's festival runs until September 20 at the nursery along the North Orbital Road, St Albans, and there is no charge for admission.

They are housed in a marquee behind the cash desk area of Aylett's and this year the theme of the festival is the fruit garden.

Julie Aylett, director of the nursery, explained: "We like to give it a theme so the dahlias are going to be complemented with fruit trees and seasonal fruit. There will also be a water feature in one corner."

Two thousand dahlia blooms go on display in the first instance in 50 vases but they are freshened up during the festival so as many as 5,000 can be used - all grown at the nursery.

The blooms are selected from the plants growing in the two-acre trial area where 80 plants of 70 different varieties of dahlia are planted and remain on show until well into the autumn.

And this year has been a particularly good one for the dahlias. Julie said: "The weather when we planted them in June was just right for them. It rained at night and they got off to a really good start."

The Dahlia Festival has been a feature at Aylett Nurseries for the past 40 years - founder Roger Aylett has always been passionate about the plants which create a riot of colour in late summer borders and flower until the first frosts.

And the festival always raises money for charity - with this year no exception. The beneficiary will be Greenfingers, a charity committed to creating magical gardens for children's hospices throughout the UK.

There will be numerous additional fund-raising attractions during the festival including a guess the weight of the cake competition, a children's word hunt and a dahlia wordsearch as well as events organised by the staff including a raffle for an extra day's paid holiday and wearing something green for the day.

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