Every year Sharon and I have a little discussion: do roses and dahlias go together? After all, rational examination of the looks of both might decree not. Roses are delicate, their petals soft, round, like a really thick, good quality, crepe de chine. Often their heads bob shyly like country debutantes at a ball in the 1920s, overwhelmed by the confidence of their chic, town-used peers. Dahlias are stronger, their heads held high, ready to dance, outrage, they are the can-can girls of the cut flower patch. Where roses smell sweet, dahlias have a hard, almost rubbery smell. Their petals are often sharply pointed, their faces are always full of confidence: there's no such thing as a diffident dahlia.
So do these two go together? Well, oddly enough, despite the fact that a bucket of roses next to a bucket of dahlias serves only to reinforce the fact that you might think they don't, I challenge you to ignore their differences, put them together, and you'll find that they make a very good team. The strong stems of the dahlias give the roses something to lean on. The bruising petals of the dahlias are softened by the balance of the cups of generosity of their more sweetly scented garden compatriots.
Anthropomorphise your garden flowers and you'll find the relationship you have with them improves no end.
I feel, when I curate my cut flower patch choices through the year (this flower farmer's year has no start or finish, rather the turning of each yearly project makes a palimpsest upon the other challenges, creating a flowery circle which never stops despite each flower herself having one season of glory at a time,) that I'm constantly creating sports teams. And in the way that I team tulips with honesty to play a spring game, I always find that, despite my initial misgivings, teaming roses and dahlias together plays to both their strengths. I feel as though I'm challenging the over-confident to be nice to the shy one, challenging the diffident to stand up to the flashy dahlia and not allow her to bulldoze her into the back row. And it works. The dahlia and the rose may look askance at one another when separated into different buckets, but put them together into bouquets, and I find they smile and put their arms around one another, they play the game brilliantly, and make a combination that, in my opinion, is absolutely champion.