By SAM HOUSEHOLDER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
WATERFORD MILLS —
Steve Kuiper of Goshen and his daughter, Cammi Waggoner, have been growing dahlias for about 20 years.
“It’s something that was instilled in her at a young age,” Kuiper said of his daughter, “and she continued with the hobby and we go to shows throughout the Midwest.”
Both Kuiper and Waggoner are active in the Elkhart Dahlia Society and often attend shows in Chicago and Michigan.
“We go to basically about six different shows throughout the year,” Kuiper said. “We have our own show here in Elkhart, which is on Sept. 7 and 8. We do OK. There are better growers out there, but we can hold our own.”
Kuiper, a master gardener, became interested in dahlias while he worked at Goshen Middle School and a teacher brought in a couple bouquets of dahlias.
“They were just breathtaking,” he said. “I need to grow some of them.”
At one point, Kuiper says he had around 1,000 plants, but has scaled it back and this year he has 300 plants of 100 varieties of dahlias growing.
Kuiper has even experimented with growing his own varieties by mixing pollen to get new colors of dahlia.
For Kuiper though, growing the plants isn’t about just showing them and winning awards. It’s about sharing the beauty of the flowers.
“I like to really grow them as a hobby,” he said, “and see the smiles on people’s faces when you buy them a couple.”