This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
We have several times made note of this comparatively new species, and its probable value in out door gardening. It appears it is also useful in conservatory decoration. A correspondent of the Garden says:
"One of the most interesting and beautiful plants in flower at Kew, at the present time, is this truly Imperial Dahlia, some specimens of which are flowering freely in the palm house. It is difficult to intelligibly describe without an artist's aid the chaste beauty of its flowers, so different are they from those of the ordinary garden varieties. The flowers, which are single, are borne in loose terminal clusters, and assume a somewhat nodding position. They measure about 6 in. across, and have many narrow pointed ray florets of a pure white color, tinted with carmine at the base, colors which contrast finely with the bright yellow centre. The foliage, too, is handsome, being much larger and more divided than that of the ordinary dahlia. Altogether it is a stately plant, forming specimens from six to eight feet, though perhaps this is a point which deters many from growing it, as it requires the protection of glass in order to flower it, though it may be grown outside until early frosts set in. It is to be regretted that this fine plant produces its flowers so late that they cannot be enjoyed in the open air in our climate.
Something, however, might possibly be done in the way of hybridizing it with earlier and dwarfer species, and notably with the oeautiful little D. glabrata, which, being of very dwarf habit, would probably infuse a dwarfer growth into the D. imperialis, while the color of the flowers might not be materially affected by it as those of glabrata are almost pure white, varying to deep mauve".