Dahlias were just one of many plants that Ely grew, and with cannas and bay laurel, were the only plants that merited the trouble and fuss of winter storage. In her three books published in the early 1900’s, Ely writes of the wonderful variation in dahlias – the cactus, the quilled, the fancy. She loved to grow dahlias from seeds, delighting in the surprising results of new colors. Each fall, the tubers were dug up and stored safely on an earthen bank in the basement of Ely’s house, and each spring they were planted again in the cutting garden. Those same tubers have been stored in just the same way by the Meadowburn gardeners to this day.
Meadowburn was sold in 1930, a decade following Mrs. Ely’s death. Henry and Vincenza ‘Byba’ Coster, the new owners, continued to employ Furman as the gardener. Byba’s love for fresh cut flowers and Furman’s stubborn penchant for tradition meant that very little was changed in the garden. When Furman died in 1948, his son, Albert Furman Jr., stepped in as gardener. Furman Jr. had worked beside his father in the garden since the day he could first pull a weed, and like his father, kept steadfast to the gardening practices passed down from Ely. Each spring the dahlias were set out in freshly tilled rows and arranged just as they had been the year before. Every dahlia was carefully tended – only a few shoots left to grow, each stalk nicely tied to a cedar stake cut from the woods, and the soil gently cultivated.