Several miles into the scenic Washougal River Road drive you come to Hughes Road, make a left turn, and discover the stunning Jamie’s Dahlias gardens tucked away along rolling hills and rich evergreen trees. With its neatly planted rows, this nearly acre-sized flower farm provides a needed respite from a world beleaguered with a pandemic and the continued stress that ensues.
It’s the new, local destination to cut your favorite dahlia flowers and fill your home or office with brilliant colors.
Jamie Smith, the garden’s namesake, and Fort Vancouver High School health teacher, is there to greet you while her two young sons plow the earth with toy John Deere tractors and her husband, Kerry, tends to the grounds.
This is the first year, even the first month of operation for this young farm, the successor to Bob and Linda’s dahlia farm that closed recently.
“We officially opened August 1,” said Jamie. “It’s technically a U-cut business. People come and cut the flowers they want. We spend a lot of time in the seedling garden where we create new varieties. We have 220 named varieties to choose from here.”
Jamie and Kerry have spent months, even years planning for this project, learning and experiencing everything the world of dahlias brings. Jamie explains the tuber is what gives you the same dahlia each year, but if you take the flower and mix tiny sprouts from the various seed heads of the dahlia flower, you can get some great varieties.
She said a tuber looks like a potato and it will grow.
“They will grow all these new plants below, and you sit there with a pair of scissors and then separate them, then store them over the winter,” Jamie said. “I store them in vermiculite, which is a thick powder, and keeps the moisture away from the dahlia.”
A lot of the dahlia tubers are from other dahlia farms in the area, which have been delicately maintained through the winter months.
“The Portland Dahlia Society has given me a lot of tips when it comes to dahlia dividing and storage,” said Jamie. “Some people dip their dahlias in sulfur or cinnamon. Others store them in wood chips or Saran Wrap. This is my first year growing them, and we put them in the ground in the Spring. The original one that’s planted is thrown away, but the tuber below under ground can yield up to 10 plants. We sell individual tubers, as well.”
When do you start planting?
“In March you wake them up and put them in a greenhouse,” Jamie said. “We got the back half planted in April. Maintenance includes lots and lots of weeding. If you use the regular garden hoe you can damage the roots and the plants. We have to weed daily.”
Why a dahlia farm?
“Six years ago I went on my first date with Kerry and we stopped at Linda’s dahlias and he gave me this huge massive bouquet,” she said. “That farm is three miles down the road. I didn’t know much about dahlias until then, but was impressed by the bouquet. It became our thing to walk the dahlia fields and explore. We have seven acres here, and we think we have about one acre of dahlias.”
Jamie and Kerry planted 2,800 dahlias in the ground, and 2,600 plants came up. The planting lasted four straight days from sunrise to sunset because it’s best to plant them all at the same time.
Getting to the gardens is just a 16-minute drive from Camas, and it makes for a nice, local escape into another beautiful location.
Jamie’s Dahlias is open daily 9 am-6 pm at 704 Hughes Rd. Washougal, WA 98671. You can also find them on Facebook (Jamie’s Dahlias) and Instagram (@Jamiesdahlias)