The history of the ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ dates back to 1884 when Rivoire of Lyon, France introduced the first all black foliage dahlia under the name of ‘ Lucifer’. This dark foliage then went on to figure prominently in the introduction of many of the modern Peony-flowered dahlias, often used as one of the parents in cross breeding further varieties.
It wasn’t until 1927, that Stephen Treseder of Cardiff, Wales introduced a dark Red Peony type which also had the 'black' foliage and central disc called Dahlia’ Bishop Huges. Unfortunately the real Bishop Huges was unhappy with this use of his name and consequently it was changed to ‘The Bishop’. Then there was another problem as the "modern rules of nomenclature" forbade the use of ‘The’ in dahlia names. As result it was changed once again, this time to ‘BISHOP of LLANDAFF’ which has remained ever since.
Growing to a height of about 1 meter, the bronzy-black foliage makes a stunning feature in the borders, and act as a superb backdrop to the vibrant red flowers which appear in late June and July. If that wasn't enough they return for a second bloom once the nights cool in early September. Its won the prestigious Award of Merit from the RHS in 1928, and then in 2004 it was listed as one of the RHS best plants of the past 200 years.
You can pot 'Bishop of Llandaff' tubers on in early spring as this will give you a head start for the season but they will need to be kept under protection in a conservatory or heated green house until the threat of frost has past, and this can be well in April. When you are ready to put them outside plant in a sunny site into a fertile, humus-rich, and well-drained. If the 'Bishop' doesn't have the support of surrounding plants then it is advisable to secure the stems using canes or rings. Give them a good mulch or feed weekly with a high-nitrogen liquid fertiliser in early summer. This can be followed by a high-potash fertiliser from mid-summer to early autumn to help encorage flowering.
Dead-head as flowers fade as this will stimulate the plant to produce more then after the first hard autumn frost arrives, cut down the blackened to 15cm and lift the tubers. Take off as much soil as you can then store upside down to dry. Give them a good dusting of sulphur fungicide, then place them into boxes protected by, straw, wood shavings or peat allowing them to remain dormant in a frost-free place. Come the following spring they can be potted on again.
For more information click onto:
Dahlia Pests and Diseases