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Flower Power
6th June 2017

How inspiration blossomed for the new Di by Diane Hassall wedding shoe collection.

Diane has been designing wedding shoes with a floral theme for many years and when naming the designs in her latest collection, she has revisited her love of all things flowery. Her previous designs were named after roses and for her new bridal shoe venture – Di by Diane Hassall – she has chosen to name each of the twelve new bridal shoe designs after one of the gardener's favourites – the dahlia.

The dahlia's meaning in the language of flowers

The dahlia symbolises a commitment and bond that will last forever. Popular in gardens and floral arrangements the dahlia is used to celebrate marriage and to express sentiments of dignity, stability and elegance, so the dahlia was an obvious choice for the design theme of Di's new collection.

The history of the dahlia

Dahlias are annual blooming plants with hollow stems whose Latin name asteraceae refers to its star-like appearance. The Spanish reported finding the plants growing in Mexico in 1525, but the earliest known description is by Francisco Hernandez, doctor to Phillip II, who went to Mexico in 1570 to study the natural produce of the country.

They were used as a source of food by indigenous Mexican people and were gathered in the wild as well as being cultivated. The Aztecs used them to treat epilepsy and used the long hollow stem of the (Dahlia imperalis) for water pipes.

In 1787, the French botanist Nicolas-Joseph Thiery de Menonville was sent to Mexico and reported the strangely beautiful flowers he had seen growing in gardens in Oaxaca.

In 1798, the Marchioness of Bute, wife of the English Ambassador to Spain, obtained a few seeds from Cavanilles and sent them to Kew Gardens where they flowered but were lost after two to three years.

In 1804, a new species, Dahlia sambucifolia, was successfully grown at Holland House in Kensington, London. Whilst in Madrid in 1804 Lady Holland was given either dahlia seeds or tubers by Cavanilles which she sent back to England to Lord Holland's librarian, Mr Buonaiuti at Holland House, who successfully raised the plants. A year later, Buonaiuti produced two double flowers but the plants raised in 1804 did not survive. New stock was brought from France in 1815 and in 1824, Lord Holland sent his wife a note containing the following verse:

"The dahlia you brought to our isle
Your praises for ever shall speak;
Mid gardens as sweet as your smile,
And in colour as bright as your cheek."

Very romantic!