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  • Hilary Berg

Bloomin’ Good Time


Looking accross a field of colorful Dahlias

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh made his famous solo, non-stop transatlantic flight in the Spirit of St. Louis. The same year, Swan Island Dahlias planted their first tubers.

For Oregonians, there's no need to catch a plane to experience the almost 40 acres of stunning dahlias in full bloom from August to September. With no admission or parking fees, visitors can witness the stunning display of colors and textures that inspire art, poetry and more in the charming town of Canby.

For the Gitts family, dahlias are their everyday, and have been since 1963. Although the company is named for its original location a few miles downriver from downtown Portland, the operation calls Canby home. Now managed by the second and third generation, Swan Island remains the nation’s largest dahlia grower.

Primarily a mail-order company, Swan Island ships more than 500,000 tubers across the U.S. and Canada. However, the Gitts offer fresh-cut flowers during the summer months, along with a charming farm and gift shop open year-round.

To celebrate the blooms, Swan Island hosts the nation's largest dahlia festival in August and September with something for everyone: art classes, music concerts, food trucks, a Sunday Market and, of course, gorgeous fields for strolling and plenty of pictures among 375-plus varieties. For manager Heather Schloe, Mikayla Miranda remains one of her favorites. "She is stunning, low growing, a great cut flower and a show stopper!" As for the most unusual, Schloe says look for the Japanese Bishop with its striking black foliage and red flowers.

A view of the shop Dahlia Farm. There is a cedar ceiling and a matching cedar planked floor. In between light shines through walls that are almost all window, on small gift itens on shelve's throughout the room.

While visiting, be sure to grab some tubers for your own garden. Dahlias can be planted in spring, summer and even fall and winter. But, here in Oregon, Schloe recommends waiting until the ground is workable and warm to plant — typically around Mother's Day.

She offers more advice: "In our climate, do not water the tubers when you plant them. Instead, wait to water them when the green sprout appears above the ground. Then, they need lots of deep watering during the summer months to thrive in full sun. Also, don’t forget to protect the tender shoots with slug and snail bait."

Whether you're seeking fresh-cut flowers or tubers to create your own mosaic of blooms, Swan Island is THE place for dahlias. Mark your calendars, clean your vases and get ready for unforgettable arrangements, not to mention fun memories made in the welcoming community that is Canby.



995 N.W. 22nd Avenue

Canby, OR 97013


Aug.–Sept.: Mon.–Tues. & Thurs.–Sun., 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Closed Wednesdays Oct.–July: Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;

Closed weekends

Phone: 503-266-7711



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