Hollyhill JESTER

davidinsfMarch 3, 2013

Help again! Need advice from anyone and everyone who has, had or has seen Hollyhill Jester.

I fell in love with COURT Jester (a sport of Jester) and though hard to find, got one this year before they sold out.

I ordered a couple of other Hollyhill dahlias from another vendor and as a bonus, they sent me Jester!

I plan on setting up a literal hedge of both of them next to each other but I just came across a pic of Jester and its' red is nowhere near the vibrant red of Court. In fact, it looks more deep pink than red and this pic was on a site where all the other pics are true to color. So I can't assume it is just the old 'pics may differ from actual results' disclaimer you often read.

But can anyone who has Jester (or had one once) confirm it is a deep red and not a washed out red?


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There are five pictures of Hollyhill Jester on the Hollyhill Dahlia website. Jester and Court Jester are nearly identical in color with Jester being one half shade darker red. Jester has become a very popular cut flower as there are few dahlias with a nice pure red in it's size class. One small negative(and a positive to others) is that Jester does not have as many white spots on the flowers as it used to. Cut flower people like both the solid Jester flowers and the few that have some white. Another plus for Jester is that it makes very many easily stored tubers.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 2:47PM
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Also, Court Jester is not a sport of Jester. It is a seedling of Jester.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 2:53PM
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Thx Ted.

(I thought Sport meant 'son of' or offshoot. - but I digress)

I learned long ago that many vendors use professional photographers which means colored lenses, perfect and sometimes enhanced lighting, filters, etc. They also seem to enhance colors a lot (remember that thread a few years ago about how white the white looked in (perhaps court Jester?) a red/white flower?) So I take vendor pics with a grain of salt and a prayer that they actually are the color you see.

My problem is not Hollyhill's pix but other sites. If you google Jester, you will see on Lindas Dahlias a Hollyhill Jester that is not even what I would call red. Maybe because the vivid red Jokers Wild is just below it but Jester looks pink to me. Cowlitz River Hollyhill Jester also looks more pinkish to me than deep red.

At this point I am 'stuck' with the bonus tuber anyway so I will try it for one year in that spot and if it is SO different from Court, I'll move it next year. From what you wrote though, it sounds like it will be close enough to make a decent hedge of red and red/white.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:25PM
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steve22802(7a VA)

>> So I take vendor pics with a grain of salt and a prayer
>> that they actually are the color you see.

Yes, this is a pet peeve of mine too. Why can't people take the time to learn how to set the White Balance correctly? It's not that hard to do with digital cameras. And stop cranking up the saturation in Photoshop to garish levels! Brent and Becky's Bulbs has some really egregious examples of over saturation on their website. Also calling flowers blue that are clearly lavender or even violet is just wrong. I know people like blue, I like blue myself, but calling a purple flower blue or even worse putting the word blue in the cultivar name of a lavender flower seems dishonest to me. :(

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 1:12PM
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I agree Steve. Which is why I now ask 'the experts' ahead of time.

In the vendors defense however, I know they are gardeners or 'horticulturists' (?) at heart and not photographers. So many of the sites I peruse on the Big List are home made pics that look vastly different from not only descriptions (like you said about BLUE) but from other pics of the same dahlia. And I understand all about the color being different on paper in catalogs and how colors get messed up on browsers, so I indeed take them with a grain of salt.

A problem not as earthshaking as getting the wrong dahlia completely but still somewhat distressing.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 8:06PM
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Just adjusting the white balance would not do very much in my opinion. Most cameras have automatic white balance that works pretty well. And the other solution is to take pictures in raw mode and adjust them later. Dahlias do not glow in the dark and do not emit any of their own light. All of the light is reflected light and that light comes from many sources and is nearly always not neutral. Each picture will vary according to with the color of the light that reflects off the flower. Sometimes it is overly blue, sometimes overly green. The pictured dahlias will reflect some of the blue or green or other color light and it's color will change slightly. Taking good dahlia pictures can be very frustrating. When they are in full sun at mid day, they overwhelm the camera with their intense colors. Most of us take pictures in the morning or early evening. The light is usually pretty good then.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 10:49AM
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steve22802(7a VA)

Digital cameras do pretty well getting the white balance right out of doors but indoors under artificial light is a different story. Ideally you should use the Custom White balance setting if your camera has it. The way this works is that you first take a picture of a white object (a sheet of paper is fine) located under the light you are going to use to photograph your subject (dahlia flower.) Then you instruct the camera to use this image as the white balance reference image. That will get you the truest colors under a specific lighting situation. You can set a custom white balance out of doors too of course.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 11:12AM
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I have my answer and it matches what Ted said - they are BOTH a deep true red. So far no white to be seen so I may indeed end up with a red hedge instead of reds and red/white but such is life.

I still don't quite understand why dahlias (and not their pics so much) vary on different sites. if you google Court Jester, the Hollyhill CJ is labeled as an ID dahlia and not the cactus (or semi cactus) that I got. On Les and Viv' Connells site, it is a cactus. I was hoping for the ID but got the cactus!

Does this mean that ONLY the Hollyhill CJ will be ID and others are offshoots or personal creations of the same dahlia? I mean, it is either a cactus or Informal Decorative- how can it be either/or?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 1:33AM
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Noni Morrison

I think the answer there is that they bloom differently in different parts of the country, different climates, and different soils. Also, the interpretation of the "expert" who is deciding what shape it is.
I know I have read that one of the Kenora red ones can be a cactus where it is hot and is an Informal dec where it is cooler.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 9:39PM
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Liza - I don't doubt you for a minute but this makes absolutely no sense to me.

I 'assume' that plant DNA's are like human DNA and if a plant is a semi cactus, there is NO WAY it could be a Form Dec or an Inform Dec or some other 'variety' also. It has to be one or the other. Maybe plants (or dahlias) are different and can be both? Or either? I have never heard of any other dahlia being a different variety unless a grower was trying to turn one into another on purpose.

I actually sent an email to the vendor asking why the discrepancy but he responded they are basically going out of business, never answered my question and said he was politely telling me to order from other vendors this year. So I never got a straight answer.

And overall, the 'hedge' experiment was/is a failure. As mentioned before, they both bloomed but then I went on vacation and returned 3 days ago and Court Jester has turned pink, while jester turned darker pink. Neither have many blooms on them, neither had much white in them and overall I am very disappointed with my 'red/white' section.

Guess you live and learn though.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 11:08PM
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Dahlias are octaploid meaning that they have 8 sets of chromosomes. We humans have but 2. That means that dahlias can be extremely diverse as the genes can interact in strange ways. Many genes for large makes them really large. Extra genes for a color can mean more intense color. It also means that if gene is damaged another gene can take over. An orange dahlia can lose a gene and the flower can turn to pink. A red dahlia can lose a gene and turn purple. While not common, the loss of genes does occur and many dahlia varieties are the result of that process. Spartacus lost a gene and turned into Vassio Meggos. The loss of a gene can also change the form of a dahlia too. The most common loss causes a flower to be no longer fully double and the pollen center shows; it has gone open centered. It is very possible that the gene that causes the florets to roll up into a semi cactus can become damaged and the flower would be a type of formal decorative. I have seen a flower where the gene loss was only on half of the flower. Half of the flower was ball and the other half the petals were much longer and were much like an informal decorative formation. So dahlias can change in many ways. However, the most common "change" is the grower (and sellers)mislabeling his plant.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 2:25PM
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