Dan The Early Years:
Thanks to the support of my family coupled with hard work and determination, I have the same job today as I did when I was ten years old. My interest in dahlias as a small boy has led to a successful career selling dahlia tubers and cut flowers.
I grew up on the family dairy farm in Oakville, Washington. From an early age, I had a fascination and passion with growing things. My father Clarence always planted a few dahlias in the vegetable garden. When I was 8 years old, my dad added 30 new varieties. I memorized the names of all the new dahlias. Dad realized I had a true interest in the flowers, so the next year
he added another 30 varieties. Again, I memorized the names.
Each year Dad and I dug and divided and then replanted all of the dahlia tubers. By 1983 at the age of 10, the amount of color and blossoms in the garden would cause cars on the nearby county road to slow down and inquire about the flowers. With excitement, I would run inside the house and grab a knife to cut flowers. In 1983, I sold the flowers for $1 per dozen. To help with the flower sales, my mother Colleen hand-painted a sign that simply read “Dan’s Dahlias.”
My father Clarence realized that I would likely be able to sell more flowers if I were near a larger population. So In 1984 at age 11, the family loaded an entire bed of our pickup truck with fresh cut flowers. Mom would help me in the morning set up a table at the Olympia Farmers Market. Often she would run errands and return in the afternoon to retrieve me and the emptied containers from the flowers I sold..
Hard Work Pays Off
My entrepreneurial drive, along with my interest in agriculture, greatly influenced my activities once I entered high school; I was president of the local FFA Chapter. In the fall of 1990, as a senior in high school, I won the National FFA Floriculture Proficiency Award, an award for students with an industry-based business. I received $500 and a three-week trip touring Europe with 29 other winners.
The trip was an agricultural tour through Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
From day one, my parents started a savings account and all of the money I earned from selling the dahlias was saved to pay for a college education. By 1991 when I graduated from high school, I had saved enough to pay for my four-year degree. I attended Washington State University, and in 1995 successfully earned my degree in landscape architecture. After graduation, I earned my landscape architecture license in both Washington and Oregon. I worked in the profession for 7 years while building Dan’s Dahlias big enough that it could become a full-time job. An education is invaluable, and the degree and the landscape architecture license is an ace in my back pocket in case anything ever goes sideways with the dahlia business.
Boy Meets Girl
In 2003 I walked away from my career as a landscape architect and down the aisle with my Fiancé, Mieke Blum. I found that I could earn more money doing what I truly loved, growing dahlias, and could now share my life with someone who I truly loved. Our wedding was held in August when the dahlias were in full bloom; Our wedding was very colorful.
In 2006, We were joined by our first-born child, a daughter named “Alyssa,” followed in 2008 by the birth of our son “Collin.”
A Growing Business
I created a successful mail order business by advertising in national garden magazines and on the internet once it became available. I send dahlia tubers to all 50 states and several foreign countries each year. Each spring, I attend several large garden shows to sell my dahlia tubers. The shows include the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle in February, and the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show in March. I continue to sell fresh cut flower bouquets at the Olympia Farmers market in the fall.
Thank you to all of the past customers who have helped to make Dan’s Dahlias a success and a way of life for my family!
Dan and daughter Alyssa picking flowers for Farmers Market
The Night of the Cows
Besides their beauty, variety and heartiness, one of the reasons that many gardeners love dahlias is that they are deer-resistant but, an unfortunate incident back
in June, 1994 proves they are not cow-resistant. My parents and I headed to California for the weekend as I was a groomsman in my cousin’s wedding. Sometime during the night, 28 of our neighbor’s Holstein heifers broke through their fence and came into the dahlia field; the cows went undetected until morning. I returned to a disaster. The cows ate three acres of dahlias to the ground, they broke the wooden stakes, and ate the plastic identification ribbons. The field looked like it had been rototilled. That year, Dan’s Dahlia’s was almost completely wiped out. Many years later, I could make light of the incident and created a unique business logo, “Cow Eating a Dahlia.” The logo is a symbol of the obstacles that Dan’s Dahlias has had to overcome. But with family support, hard work and determination, it’s a booming, blooming business.
Visitors are always
994 South Bank Road, Oakville, WA 98568
Phone: (360) 482-2406 / Fax: (360) 482-2407