Swan Island Dahlias field, late August, 2010

Immerse yourself in bright, gaudy, over-the-top color at the Swan Island Dahlia Festival this weekend, Sat and Sun Sept 4 and 5, 2010. It’s a beautiful drive out to Canby and you’ll come home with armloads of fresh cut flowers for $5 a bunch. Plus, you can pick which varieties you like and pre-order for next spring. Swan Island Dahlias’ fields are open through the month of September from 8 am to 8 pm. The festival runs 10-6, with indoor floral arrangements, clowns, music and food, too.

If that isn’t enough for you or you want to stick closer to town, the following two weekends will be chock-a-block full of dahlia fun, too. Old House Dahlias is having their fall dahlia fiesta Sat and Sun Sept 11 and 12, 2010 and again the following weekend, Sat and Sun Sept 18 and 19, 2010 from 10 am to 5 pm at Old House Dahlias, 8005 SE Mill Street, Portland, OR 97215. Tel: 503-771-1199. You can check out hundreds of flowering varieties and pre-order the ones you like. Fresh-cut flowers and potted plants are also for sale. Check or cash only. Call Mark at 503-771-1199 or visit the website for more info.

I went to the Swan Island Dahlia Festival last weekend and snapped a bunch of show-offish photos. Spiky, modern, gray-leaved plant lovers – stand back! – this is an unapologetic paean to the florid and frothy fluff-balls of the plant world. Just click on the slideshow, above, to see images of some of my favorites from a few hours of wandering the fields…