The love of dirt is among the earliest passions . . . so long as we are dirty, we are pure.
—Charles Dudley Warner
Imagine a floral kaleidoscope and you’ve got an inkling of what my friend Gordon’s backyard looks like this time of year. Behind his house, 293 statuesque dahlias stand at attention in orderly rows beside sturdy oak stakes. They’re not there to accent a perennial bed, hide a foundation, or enliven a sea of lawn. He grows them just for their beauty, as cut flowers brightening homes and workplaces with colors so vivid they seem lit from within.