Keepers of the dahlias

I spent the day in the yard. Raked a lot of leaves, cut back the elephant ears, and trimmed some fountain grass. But all I did with the dahlias was look them over. They are not yet ready to be put away for winter.
Full disclosure, I know next to nothing about gardening. That’s my wife’s department. I’m just her laborer. My duties, however, include taking care of the dahlias.
It is my understanding that we are the third generation in the Saporito family to be responsible for these dahlias. My wife’s mom was a Saporito. The dahlias were entrusted to us by my wife’s cousin Joe Saporito and his wife Alice, oh, about ten years ago I’d guess. Maybe more. I’m not sure who passed them along to Joe and Alice, but I do know they had a long run in their back yard on John Street.
They were lovingly wrapped in newspaper and in cardboard boxes when we got them. That was part of the process, we were told.
They said in the spring, when we are reasonably sure we’ve had our last frost, it’s time to plant them. And in fall, after the first frost, time to dig them up. They spend winter wrapped in newspaper in a corner in our basement.
So far we’ve had luck with them, but I take nothing for granted. When I see the first sign of their green stalks poking through the soil a few weeks after they’ve been planted, I rejoice. And when I dig them up and put them away, I say a little prayer they’ll survive.
Anxiety aside, it’s an honor to have them. Hope we don’t have to look for new caretakers for years to come.

Ed Ackerman