HISTORY of the Society
What is now the Dahlia Society of Victoria (DSV) was formed by dahlia growing members of the Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria (RHSV) who decided in 1960 to form a separate, specialist Dahlia Society. The first meeting of what was then the National Dahlia Society of Victoria (NDSV) was held in the Victorian Railway Institute on 18 August 1960 and the first AGM in July 1961.
The inaugural president, George Burns, gave the first talk to members on “Cultivation of the Dahlia” at the November 1960 meeting. The same meeting saw the first tuber auction which raised 6 pounds 8 shillings and 6 pence ($12.85).
Apart from George’s dahlia knowledge and wisdom, he helped the Society financially with several donations, the most important being 100 pounds for a special typewriter that was used for the quarterly magazine. DAHLIAS is still distributed to members three times a year as an A5 colour magazine
In his book, Fifty Years, Les Lawson creates a picture of the time: in the years after World War II gardening was a popular pastime. With limited television, no computers, no instamatic cameras, only one car to a family (unless you were either rich or lucky), football only on Saturday afternoons, supermarkets and shopping street strips closing at noon on Saturday, gardening was an interest many pursued.
In the early years there was no State Dahlia Show. Exhibitors participated in the many local suburban and country shows. Eventually the NDSV staged its own Show, the first being on 8 March 1971 at the Essendon Grammar School. In 1973 the Show moved to the Victorian Horticultural Institute (the “Horti”, now the home of Opera Victoria) in Victoria Street Melbourne.
From the mid-60s there were trial grounds at various locations where dahlia growers could plant promising seedlings and have them evaluated by judges. Difficulties in managing the trial grounds and in evaluating the seedlings meant that trial grounds were discontinued in 1992. New raisings are now evaluated on the show bench and the Kiwi Trophy, donated by New Zealand growers Jack Dempsey and Les Norton to the DSV, is awarded to the best seedling at the DSV State Show.
The State Show moved to the Mount Waverley Community Centre in 1992 and the DSV monthly meetings moved there from the Horti in 1999. In 2020 the State Show celebrated the Society’s 60th anniversary.