Hi, my name is Darren Everest. I’ve been growing Dahlias for about thirty five years.
My first recollection of seeing Dahlias was as a young child walking down my Granddads garden, walking past his exhibition Chrysanthemums before coming across a “hedgerow” of colourful blooms at the end of his main flower/vegetable plot.
I must have been around twelve when I was at my local flower show (my parents were helping to run it) and was greeted by a bank of these colourful Dahlia blooms some three rows deep on tiered staging. I was soon introduced to the three or four exhibitors and was asked if I wanted to have a go at growing some the following year.
The following year I was given around twenty tubers which went into a patch on my Dads (Bryan Everest) allotment and my first attempts at showing them began. I can’t remember if I won any prizes but I was hooked by the bug and had set my sights on those red tickets!
At the age of fifteen I was growing around three hundred plants on my own allotment growing such varieties as Klanstad Kerkrade, Athalie, Moor Place, Wootton Cupid, Katherine’s Cupid, Salmon Symbol and Ruskin Diane. I even had a go at exhibiting in the novice classes at the National Dahlia Society show in London. I was unsuccessful but my Dahlias didn’t look out of place in amongst the eighteen or so entries in each class.
I continued to grow Dahlias each year only taking a break due to work and family commitments but each year yearned to get back to my passion. I have always exhibited and supported many of my local shows over the but in order to compete at the highest level I have had to move up to the specialist regional and national shows. I have been a regular exhibitor at the Kent Dahlia Society show, where I had a brief stint at the role of Chairman, before I moved to the Isle of Wight, Surrey C & D show, Sussex and the National Dahlia Show.
Over the last ten years I have been able to spend more time tending to my Dahlias which has paid dividends on the show bench. I have won mentors awards at the regional events and have so far won six National Championship classes. I also do talks and demonstrations across the country to showcase the wonders of the Dahlia and to help new growers achieve great results. Social media is also a very important tool and I regularly publish video content on my YouTube channel and on Facebook.
Since 2011, with the help of my wife, Dawn, we have been doing some large Dahlia displays at the Edenbridge and Oxted Agricultural Show , where we have won nine consecutive Gold Awards including one Large Gold and the Presidents Award for Best Exhibit in the whole show, Lullingstone Castle, and at the RHS Wisley Gardens.
In 2021 I have been awarded the prestigious "Personality of the Year" award by the National Dahlia Society, one of their highest accolade.