Dahlia Hypnotica Lavender

Plenty of fine garden plants have Dutch breeding in their history; the hypnotica series of dahlias is no exception.  I happen to be a fan of dahlias.  I haven’t the patience for the giant varieties, even though their flowers are breathtaking.  The big dahlias-the subject of another essay.    I like the smaller growing dahlia plants that bloom profusely.  I have made a point this annual planting season to try the University series.  Serrated dark foliage is topped with lots of purple or pink cactus form blooms some 4″ across.  They are blooming profusely right now-a month ahead of the big and tall girl dahlias.  When I saw a bench of hypnotica lavender dahlias-so short, and so profusely blooming, I could not take my eyes off that color.  How would you describe it?  Light red/violet?  Another new introduction, whispers petunia, has that same riveting and unforgettable color.  The hypnotica dahilas have become a part of my plant vocabulary. I had a project in need of an inspiration of some sort. The color of this dahlia looked so great, paired with whisper petunias. 

 A client for whom I usually plant a green and white summer garden shifted gears this year.  He was interested in some color; that color, my choice.  His exact words?  Color this year, please.  Riotous, or subtle-your choice.  The moment I got that email, I was wringing my hands.  What would I do? This went on for weeks-that uncertainty. The hypnotica lavender dahlias (my client is a fan and skilled grower of exhibition dahlias) rescued me.  The moment I laid eyes on them, I was off and running.  

These Dutch bred dahlias growing to 18-22 inches tall would organize an entire planting.  I paired that color with grey-do not ask me where that idea came from.  It just seemed like a good idea for a client who usually requests green and white.  Grey and pale red violet-does this not sound good?  The result-both subtle and striking.   

The window boxes feature cardoons as a centerpiece.  The silver grey accompaniment-French lavender, curry plant, and silver dichondra.  A dash of white via some white supertunias, -and a really pale red/violet and white bicolor Lanai trailing verbena known as lavender star-we have an idea taking shape here. 

The rear yard is small, but its impact is very big.  Beautiful stone pillars and a gorgeous stone wall-what a gift to have landscape features of this caliber to work with.  I had a mind to keep with green and white scheme, but introduce some purple to the mix. 

Black phormiums, a raspberry coleus topiary, and that dark red violet oxalis made an appearance in the terrace pots. Purple got introduced to the white and green mix.

A steel Hudson box beyond the fountain-I went way out there.  I filled the box with bark 2/3rds of the way up from the bottom.  I lined the top third of the container with a heavy duty black plastic garbage bag.  I filled the top third of the container with water, and stuffed it with white callas, a water canna, a few papyrus-and some floating water hyacinths to finish.  This container is looking really good. Stopping up the drainage in a container in a very low tech way-this was my first try at a container water garden without a lot of hoopla.    I love the idea, the look, and the result.    

The rear bluestone terrace is a cool and shady haven and a place to gather.  The Richard Schultz furniture is decidedly modern-the landscape and containers are a mix of thoughts and interests both modern and traditional.  There is a lot of color going on here, no matter the shade.  There are a lot of ideas going on here-I would call this garden lively-first and foremost.     

There are a lot of pots on the rear terrace.  Some have cone shaped boxwood.  One has a beautiful large leaf begonia.  One is stuffed with ferns.  Another is filled entirely with Kong green coleus.  Another features white caladiums.  Yet another-a dialogue about white, black, and green.  There are a lot of containers on this terrace-there is ever so much more lively conversation.

I worried myself half crazy about this particular summer planting.  Today, I am so pleased about what turned up and out.  Funny how one great plant can organize an entire summer garden.  Hypnotica dahlias- check them out.


  1. Really nice….I love the mix of terra cotta styles with the mix of plantings. Did you do the landscape design as well? If not, it is very much a part of your signature aesthetic and style features.

  2. Loving those zinc (or looks-like-zinc) containers!!
    And to have a water container- brilliant! Can’t wait to try that next year. Did you have to secure the plants somehow?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Anne, the containers are steel with an acid wash finish. I just put enough plants in the pot so everything was wedged in tight. Deborah

  3. Oh Deborah,

    A plant named “hypnotica”, no kidding. That word perfectly describes how I’m feeling at the moment. Hypnotized.

    Oh my. The harmony of how this beautiful garden seamlessly flows from front to back and the way your carefully chosen plantings so beautifully compliment every facet of the existing landscape and hardscape? Seriously, this takes my breath away. Grey and pale-red violet in the beds, steel window boxes and planters; paired with the exterior brick and trim, the patio, the stone walls? It’s superb. It was worth losing sleep over.

    Thank you, as always, for not only sharing this with us, but for also letting us in on the “how to”. As if we could ever!

    Like ALL good teachers you provide your students with the necessary tools and demonstrate your undying confidence in our abilities to succeed, even when it’s not always warranted. Thank you for always believing in, inspiring, and showing us the way —

    and thank you for this beautiful post.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Anne, your letter made my day-thanks! I cannot thank you enough for your interest and encouragement. I so totally believe everyone who is passionate about gardening can think clearly, dream in a big way, and keep up. You are one of those gardeners. It is really good to have met you. Many thanks, Deborah

  4. I felt stupid asking…but I didn’t want to make any assumptions. The boxwood spheres…with the spherical accent…too much.

    • Deborah Silver says

      So Michael-I am unsure about your drift here. But that said, the spherical boxwoods, and the steel sphere-intimately related. Clearly related. I believe there is great strength in being totally clear about a design statement. No one should have to work hard, trying to figure out what I had in mind. No design should require a museum as a collaborator/ interpreter. I try my best to be very clear about where I am going, and what I mean to say.
      The new Picasso show-just the paintings. Have you read about this? No explanations. no outline. Just the paintings. Fabulous. My design work is a far cry from the work of Pablo Picasso, but this we share. Look, see, feel, blink. Do you see this?
      The pruning of the boxwoods into spheres, and the steel sphere-a choice my clients made.

  5. I came upon your Blog as I was looking for photos of ‘lavender dahlias’ to show one of my Bridal Clients and just had to let you know how beautiful your Blog is. The photos are so inviting, I want to pour a cup of coffee and walk into one of the Gardens. Great Job!!!

  6. Coleen Toone says

    Deborah, I am working on designs right now and was surfing for pictures of Hypnoticas when I ran upon your blog. I used a lot of Hypnotica Lavender last summer and LOVED them. Your design with the silvers and lavenders is so deliciously restful and calm. I love it. Thank you for sharing. Happy Gardening, Coleen in Provo, Utah

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