The flower of the dahlia plant has amazed American gardeners with its color and form, and ease of growing, for more than 150 years. Each September, a two-day dahlia show in Rhode Island draws visitors from as far away as New York and New Jersey just to view the form, size, and shades of color of the blooms, carefully marked and standing tall in glass vases.
In the 1885 issue of its company magazine, the Currie Brothers Seed Company, which was based in Milwaukee and had a large national business, wrote: “There is at present a very rapidly growing sentiment in favor of the single in preference to the double Dahlias now so long in cultivation. They have for the past few years been exceedingly popular in England, and continue to rise in the estimation of horticulturalists there.” Currie Brothers was telling its readers that the trends in gardening in England were important for the American gardener who wanted to have an up-to-date garden. The point here was not simply the irresistible dahlia, but the role of the English garden for the American audience. It was the seed company that wrote about the dahlia to its middle-class customers in suburbs and farms around the country.