For all the annuals that we enjoy in our summer gardens I find that people always gravitate towards dahlias. Here are a few recent shots to show some of the fabulous variation of flower, leaf, and habit. Dahlia 'Mystic Illusion'
Dahlia 'Karma Fuschiana'
Dahlia 'Karma Prospero'
Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff"
Dahlia 'Bishop of York'
I turn to Flora: A Gardener's Encyclopedia (Timber Press, 2003) for some factoids:
-named after Swedish botanist Andreas Dahl (1751-1789)
-member of the aster family (Asteraceae)
-native from Mexico down to Columbia
-pinnate to tripinnate foliage, hollow cane-like stems
-wild species usually have single flowers, newer hybrids come in wide range of size, color, petal count
-grow in full sun to some part shade for best flower and growth
-grow in rich soil and water and fertilize freely
-an annual for us here in New York, but often the tubers can be overwintered successfully