Donna Lane has been dabbling in dahlias since 1967. Like many others, she was given a plant by a co-worker and has been hopelessly hooked ever since. She advises people to persist if they have problems over-wintering dahlias. “I was frustrated because I had to buy new tubers each year, but I was determined to find a way to keep them from turning to mush. The way my co-worker stored them didn’t work for me,” she says.
It took five years of experimenting before she found a method that was successful for her particular storage situation.
Donna’s philosophy? Be true to yourself, laugh out loud every day and find joy in the little things in life.
A former marketing communications professional, Donna is currently an interior designer, garden designer, lecturer and writer. Her weekly column, The Addicted Gardener, has run in several local newspapers. She also edits and writes for numerous publications and gives horticulture and design lectures to garden clubs, horticultural societies, flower shows and civic organizations.
Donna belonged to the American Dahlia Society for several years before becoming a member of RIDS. “There was no dahlia society in Massachusetts, and I was unaware of the Rhode Island group,” Donna said. Through the parent organization, Donna learned about RIDS and came to a meeting prepared to join. However, she was a bit intimidated after listening to a heated debate about the classification of a particular dahlia and wondered why such a passionate discussion was taking place. After all, it was only a flower, right? Dot Taylor, RIDS President at the time, asked Donna to come back again the following month, assuring her that all the meetings were not that intense. That was in 1997 and she’s been an active member ever since, serving as Secretary from 2004 to 2007, Vice President from 2007 to 2009, President from 2009 to 2011, a member of the Executive Board since 2004, and the Society’s liaison with the Preservation Society of Newport County at Green Animals since 2007. She is an Accredited Dahlia Judge and a Massachusetts Lifetime Master Gardener. She has exhibited her dahlias at the Washington County Fair, RIDS Dahlia Show, and the Marshfield and Topsfield Fairs in Massachusetts.
Her garden is a destination for numerous garden clubs during September. “I have a small dahlia patch compared to others in the Society,” Donna says. “I only have room for about 150 plants, but I keep trying to squeeze in just one more every year.” Of the 150 plants she grows, she has 120 different varieties.
Donna’s list of favorite dahlias is long, but the varieties that happily find a home in her small patch each year are Snoho Doris, Badger Twinkle, Taratahi Ruby, Woodland’s Wildthing, Camano Sitka, Citron du Cap, Jomanda, Hollyhill Black Widow, Just Peachy, Ms Kennedy, Weston Spanish Dancer and Parkland Rave — that’s just off the top of her head.