Dahlias and Biodiversity

From our earliest farming days, we’ve worked to build a sustainable farm.

Our first days of learning to farm were spent in a beautiful apple orchard. It was a gift in so many ways, and we learned so much about farming a monocrop on acres and acres of land. One big lesson we learned was that the primary crop was happier and healthier when we planted other crops with it. So when we planted rows of dahlias, zinnias, cosmos, celosia, globe thistle, amaranth, stock, phlox, eryngium… there were more beneficial insects, more pollinators. There was healthier soil. The more flowers we planted, the greater the biodiversity.

Fast forward 10 years… and after quite the farming adventure, our primary crop is now dahlias. After years of selling cut flowers at a wholesale market, selling thousands and thousands of mixed bouquets to groceries, and flowering-up over 300 weddings, we have settled on specializing in DAHLIAS. We grow and sell the tubers in winter and the flowers in summer, and all 12 months of the year we and our crew focus on dahlias.

There is a ton of diversity in dahlias’ bloom form and bloom color, plant height, foliage color, etc., but really – all dahlias are basically the same plant. The same pests love cactus-form dahlias and dinnerplates. They all take the same macro-and micronutrients from the soil. They are all susceptible to the same kinds of disease. If we aren’t careful, in our specialization, we will create a monocrop not too different from the apple orchard where we started!

Because we don’t want that, we are constantly seeking biodiversity at Triple Wren. So here’s our primary solution: we co-plant thousands of beautiful annuals in our dahlia fields each year! We plant the between the dahlia varieties, often blocking them by color (so fun!), which gives us a “hard stop” between varieties at harvest time, gives us fillers at our fingertips when designing bouquets, makes a really beautiful, inspiring field, lets us rotate where dahlias are planted within our fields from year to year, AND it provides beneficial insects with safe haven + quite a feast throughout the growing season.

So what are your thoughts? Do you focus on creating biodiversity in your garden?