Dahlia Legacy Project

By the Federation of Northwest Dahlia Growers

Dahlia Legacy Profile

Date of Profile Submitted: 6/3/22

Author: Kathy Hargrave

Julie and Art Chmura have graciously welcomed and encouraged dahlia enthusiasts since they became involved with both the Puget Sound Dahlia Association and the Federation of Northwest Flower Growers over 30 years ago. At that time, they were new to growing and exhibiting dahlias in the Pacific Northwest. This dynamic duo has actively been involved in many aspects of both organizations since early 1992. Art and Julie are welcoming and encouraging to any experience level of dahlia growers, but especially those who have just discovered dahlias.

Julie and Art met in 1983, were married in 1999, and have been growing dahlias in the Glencoe neighborhood in Renton after a move from Seattle’s Rainer Beach neighborhood. While living in Rainier Beach Julie remembers a neighbor giving them a large clump of tubers from an unknown purple dahlia. They brought that clump with them to Renton, and that was how it all started.

Art was born in Spokane, Washington; he left to attend Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. After he graduated from Dartmouth in 1968, Art went to work for General Motors in Buffalo, New York. In 1974 after completing his MBA, Art took the plunge and moved to Seattle with no job lined up. Everything worked out and he soon landed a position at Boeing where he worked in finance until his retirement. Julie was born in Seattle and attended Cleveland High School and the University of Washington. Julie also worked at Boeing between 1984 and 2000. Julie is a dahlia lover, an artist, and has been very successful with her floral designs in competition.

General Dahlia-Growing History

In 1988 Art and Julie attended their first Puget Sound Dahlia Associaiton show at the Scottish Rite Temple on Capital Hill in Seattle. They joined the Puget Sound Dahlia Association at the Northwest Flower and Garden show in 1992 where they met Ted and Lois Hastings. They also met Jim and Sue Hunt through the PSDA. Art soon began helping Jim plant the PSDA dahlia display garden at Volunteer Park which has delighted visitors for decades.

Art has served as PSDA board member, vice president, and president. He was president from 1990 to 2000 and again from 2004 to 2005.  Art has been responsible for the challenge flower competition at PSDA shows since 1996. Together Art and Julie are the editors of PSDA’s monthly online newsletter and the annual membership directory. Art is also the membership chair for PSDA. He is also active with the Federation of Northwest Dahlia Growers and is currently an “At Large” board member and one of the judging instructors. Julie was previously a judging instructor before health problems caused her to stop.

In addition to being involved with dahlia clubs, Art and Julie have been responsible for volunteering with LifeWire, which was formerly known as Eastside Domestic Violence, a non- profit program that supports women. They donate – and have encouraged fellow growers to donate – 5-gallon buckets packed with dahlias blooms for an annual fund raiser. At times, 100 or more buckets of blooms have been donated to support the cause. These buckets of blooms are refined into individual bouquets used as centerpieces and auctioned off to support the charity. Julie directed the floral arrangement volunteers and these bouquets become highly sought after in silent auctions that benefitted the non-profit supporting women in need. One year they raised enough money to purchase appliances for women’s shelters and safe houses. 

Julie also was involved in condensing and organizing the themes of floral arrangements for the Federation exhibits and was instrumental in developing the drawings found in the back of the Federation Dahlia Annual. With her extensive experience with garden shows, she has grouped themes, categories, composition, and lines to help explain to exhibitors and judges how to evaluate floral arrangement exhibits. These ideas were based on both her garden show club experience and her floristry design experience gleaned from classes taken at South Seattle College. Julie encourages dahlia lovers to attend exhibits, become a judge, and to exhibit both dahlias and arrangements to develop a variety of skills. She has noticed that new ideas about arrangements often come out of accidental meetings and friendships that happen as you attend dahlia shows and workshops. 

Julie became interested in experimenting with drying dahlias and exhibited her arrangements using this technique. Julie recalls that Elsie Dungan was a fabulous mentor who advised her on techniques to dry dahlias with silica gel. Julie has had many successes exhibiting her arrangements and one year she was awarded some dahlia seeds when she won best-in-show in the arrangement category. Those seeds were donated by Cyril Higgo, a famous dahlia breeder and grower from South Africa. The progeny of those seeds developed some wonderful laciniated blooms; Glencoe Gold was one of the progeny. 

Both Julie and Art have explored different aspects of dahlia culture and continue to be successful both in exhibiting and growing. Bill and Delores Schwink of B&D dahlias, Bill Batts, and Jean Knutson were friends and mentors to both Julie and Art. The Schwinks provided advice and direction on growing and propagating dahlias while Bill Batts and Jean Knutson where mentors in growing and exhibiting blooms. 


Art was bit by the hybridizing bug and has introduced Glencoe Dandy (MC), Glencoe Fuzz (LC), Glencoe Gold (LC), Glencoe Parfait (LC), and Glencoe Zing (ST). He continues to experiment with seed parents and seedlings. Art has a fondness for the bigger blooms. Besides the dahlias that Art has introduced, some of his favorites are Spartacus, Zorro, Kenora Frills, Crossfield Ebony, Gitts Perfection, and Jennie. 

Dahlia Shows

Art has learned – and advises new growers – that when considering dahlia care it is very important to include garden planning and layout, soil prep, and most of all, choosing the best quality dahlia tubers from the best growers you can. Art has grown as many as 700 dahlias between their home garden and their pea patch. He stores his tubers in recycled Seattle Times delivery plastic bags along with vermiculite. Art is a resource for quality control of dahlia tubers sold for the Puget Sound Dahlia Association tuber sales. 

Art is a successful exhibitor, senior judge, and dahlia breeder. He has “wowed” his neighborhood with yearly stunning displays of dahlias. He takes as much pride in his neighborhood patch for general enjoyment as he does in his exhibition wins. But he is a serious competitor and has consistently exhibited in shows. Art has attended several National shows; he and Julie were chairs of the National show held at Seattle in 2004.

It takes exceptional volunteers to support healthy clubs and exciting dahlia exhibits. Art and Julie are the kind of volunteers who make a difference and encourage others to do the same. Art and Julie are both long-time Federation senior judges. Art is still activity exhibiting, but due to health issues, Julie has not been able to exhibit or judge recently. Both Julie and Art encourage new exhibitors to attend a variety of shows – and if possible, national shows to see how others across the US are involved with dahlias and promote dahlia culture.

Hall of Fame – Nomination

2018 Nominee

All successful dahlia clubs are led by a cadre of volunteers that take care of the tasks that keep the organizations alive and vibrant. Since 1992 Art and Julie Chmura have been an integral part of the Federation of Northwest Dahlia Growers and the Puget Sound Dahlia Association and have contributed much to the organizations over the years. 

Born in Spokane, Washington, Art left the Inland Empire to attend Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. 

After graduation in 1968 he first worked for General Motors in Buffalo, New York. Art then moved to Seattle in 1974 and went to work for Boeing where he filled several finance positions until his recent retirement. Julie was born in Seattle, Washington and attended Cleveland High School. She also worked at Boeing between 1984 and 2000. 

Art and Julie met on St. Patrick’s Day in 1983. The two were finally married in 1999 – an event that many in their families had hoped would have happened perhaps a bit sooner. 

The pair have been active in Federation activities for years. Art has served as member at large on the Federation board for an eternity. They were both extremely active in the 2004 National Show sponsored by the Federation: Art acting as show chair and Julie designed the well-known logo. Art has taught the Federation’s accredited-to-senior judging class (also for an eternity), presented at workshops, and is a regular speaker at local garden clubs, extolling the virtues of the dahlia. Julie is better known for her activities on the arrangements front but was also instrumental in the Federation’s fling with dried dahlias. That endeavor proved more popular with the public than with hard-core dahlia exhibitors. Art has often presented “Dahlias 101” classes for the public at both Federation-sponsored National shows and at PSDA shows. These classes are popular with the public, promote the Federation and local clubs, and naturally lead to new members. 

Art and Julie started raising dahlias in the mid 1980s after receiving some dahlia tubers from Julie’s neighbor. The first year was not very successful but some of tubers survived the winter and came back the following spring. Art and Julie attended a couple of PSDA dahlia shows in the late 1980s including one at the Scottish Rite Temple in Seattle. In 1992 they met Ted and Lois Hastings at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show and were quickly signed up to become PSDA members. 

Art has served as PSDA Trustee, Vice-President, and President. While most people serve in these roles once, Art served in each role twice. Art is currently the Chair of PSDA’s annual dahlia show and has been responsible for the Challenge Flower competition since 1996. Together Art and Julie are the editors of PSDA’s monthly online Newsletter and prepare the annual Membership Directory. 

If there is a Federation or PSDA volunteer event you will generally find Art involved in some way. It may be the spring planting or fall clean-up at the Volunteer Park demonstration garden. Or you will find him inspecting tubers at one of PSDA’s tuber packing parties prior to the spring sales. Or you can find him instructing new dahlia growers on the proper methods of digging and dividing tubers or judging exhibition dahlias. Art and Julie are both long-time Federation senior judges and faithfully judge at many Federation shows each year. 

Health issues have slowed Julie over the past few years, but during the 1990s and early 2000s she was as active as Art. You would find her at every club meeting or volunteer event with Art, cheerfully smiling and helping. Julie really enjoys preparing for and entering arrangements in the various dahlia shows in the region. Elsie Dungan was Julie’s mentor, and over time they become very close friends. 

Besides dahlias, Art and Julie are very involved with the Kidney Cancer Association; Julie is a kidney cancer survivor. The two of them host between four to six support group meetings each year at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and attend many national meetings of the association. 

Having been bitten hard by the dahlia bug Art and Julie are exactly the type of folks every dahlia organization needs to survive. Art and Julie both enjoy their many roles with the Federation and PSDA. And now Art has taken to hybridizing and introducing dahlias under the Glencoe name. Hats off to Art and Julie Chmura – a pair of super volunteers who are helping to keep the Federation and PSDA vibrant organizations.


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