Swan Island Dahlias, in business for over 88 years, is the largest and leading dahlia grower in the United States. We are located in the town of Canby, in the rich soil of the Willamette Valley of Oregon. The farm was originally located in Portland, Oregon, with some buildings on Swan Island, which is where the farm’s name was derived from. There was also a roadside stand in Sellwood, a suburb of Portland, so the business was known as both Swan Island Dahlias and Portland Dahlia Gardens at that time. Swan Island Dahlias was moved to Canby, Oregon on rented land in the 1940’s. Around 1953, twenty acres of farmland was purchased in Canby, and the business was relocated to its present site.
Nick and Margaret Gitts purchased Swan Island Dahlias in 1963 and moved their family to Oregon. Previously they owned a dairy farm in Laurel, Washington. Along with their dairy farm, they also owned and operated a small dahlia business on their farm know as Laurel Valley Dahlias. No longer just handling a small acre of dahlias, they were now farming 20 acres of dahlias as well as running the retail mail order and wholesale end of the dahlia business too. Under the Gitts family, the farm has expanded to a little over 40 acres at present. Nicholas and Ted Gitts joined their parents as partners in 1975 and then in 1991, their parents retired from the business. Nick and Ted ran the farm jointly until the summer of 2013, when we lost Ted to an accident.
In October of 2007, Nick Sr lost his battle with cancer. Many of our customers had the privilege of meeting him when they visited the farm. He loved hybridizing and creating new varieties from seed and he often referred to his seedlings as "his babies". In July of 2013, we lost Ted Gitts and his wife Debbie in a tragic car accident. Ted was our "go to" tractor guy. He ran the planter in the spring, and the dahlia digger in the fall. Ted was an avid fisherman and hunter, he loved the outdoors and all it's beauty. Ted and Nick Sr were both very special individuals and the dahlia world has lost two generous people who helped bring much beauty to the world. They were deeply loved and are still profoundly missed by our family.
Today, Swan Island Dahlias is owned and operated by Nicholas and Linda Gitts. Daughters Jennifer Gitts Eubanks, and Heather Gitts Schloe manage the office, websites, and day to day business of Swan Island Dahlias. They are the future of our business and we are very proud of them and their love of our farm heritage.
We still produce the largest full color dahlia catalog in the industry. We hybridize our own new varieties, planting over 10,000 seedlings each year. From those original seedlings, it takes about 4 to 5 years to introduce a new seedling for sale. Each season we introduce anywhere from 5 to 15 new varieties which are featured in our catalog and at our farm. We grow over 360 varieties on 40 acres that are open to the public during blooming season, and host the largest dahlia festival in the United States featuring over 400 dahlia arrangements during the six day festival. We are very proud of the farming tradition our family brings to the business we’ve owned and operated for three generations. We are dedicated to bringing the best and highest quality dahlias the world has to offer now and in future generations to come. Come visit us and share our love of the beauty and splendor of the dahlia.
"A beautiful garden is a work of heart"