Larry, a retired engineer, and Joan, a retired nurse, have been growing dahlias since 1969, when they were given tubers by Chet Whaley and Fred Gould, early members of the Rhode Island Dahlia Society. They were hooked! They joined RIDS in 1988. During their membership, they have been leaders, teachers and strong contributors to the success of RIDS.
Larry served as President of RIDS in 1991 and 1992, has served on the Executive Board from 1997 to 2009, and as Treasurer from 2005 to 2009. Joan has been on the Program Committee since 1999 and chaired the Floral Arts Committee since 1991.
Both Larry and Joan are modest about what they do for the Society, but the membership knows how much they contribute in wisdom and time. Both have donated thousands of propagated plants and excess tubers to the Society’s Tuber Auctions (the Society’s only fundraiser) over the years. Larry also has made many of the containers and wedges used for our annual show and has put together the Dahlia Show Program for a number of years. Each have been mentors to many new growers and get great pleasure out of helping them.
Joan and Larry once grew over 600 dahlias, but cut back to about 400 in 2003. Of these, there are 180 varieties that they grow to sell to the general public, florists, and for their own enjoyment. Even before joining RIDS, Joan and Larry were receiving top awards for their blooms at the Connecticut, Rhode Island and Washington County dahlia shows. They have been exhibiting for 35 years. Visiting their garden is a real treat. It’s always loaded with beautiful blooms, immaculately groomed and all plants are labeled. There’s always someone visiting with a pad and pencil taking notes on which varieties they want for the coming year.
While Larry likes all types of dahlias and can’t name a favorite, Joan does not hesitate. Her current favorites are Vassio Meggos, Kenora Jubilee, Snoho Sonia, Kelgai Ann, and Rycroft Dave’s Choice. Joan enjoys entering individual blooms, baskets, and artistic arrangements and especially likes to see the entries in the novice section.
While Joan has a number of forms to which she is partial – formal decorative, miniature ball, waterlily, semi-cactus, collarette, and stellar – Larry only lists the waterlily form as his favorite. But we also know he loves any dahlia that looks like chocolate.
A close-knit family, they are both pleased that their children and grandchildren have shown an interest in growing and showing dahlias. One of their proudest moments was in 2006 when their daughter-in-law, who entered the novice section of Floral Arts, not only received a blue ribbon for her entry, but also made it to the Court of Honor.
Both Larry and Joan are long-time members of the American Dahlia Society and both are Accredited ADS Judges. Asked what advice they would give to new growers, Larry answered, “Ask a lot of questions of older growers.”
Joan Additon won the 2007 RIDS Court of Honor award in the Artistic Expression class, which required a “Stretch Design” interpreting The King and I song “Shall We Dance”. Larry and Joan also walked away with most of the awards for the basket categories. (photo courtesy of Donna Lane)
Joan & Larry also submitted the following photos, which capture a few moments during their dahlia growing season.