Friday, October 25, 2013

Mums the Word!

I'm pretty sure I was Chinese in a past life.

This barely explains my desire to be a Chinese language/International Relations double major in college.  It's also probably why it's so hard for me to pass up the great harbinger of Fall - the Chrysanthemum.

I may have mentioned before that the chrysanthemum is one of the ”Four Gentlemen” (四君子: Sì Jūn Zi) in classical Chinese

They are as follows:

  • Spring - Orchid (蘭花: Lan Hua)
  • Summer - Bamboo (竹: Zhu
  • Autumn - Chrysanthemum (菊花: Ju Hua)
  • Winter  - Plum (梅花: Mei Hua)
The Four Gentleman can often be found painted on ceramics or sold as sets of panels to hang on your walls in Oriental motif stores.

My garden is certainly not a Chinese garden, but I have tried to use plants found in one. There are lots of Mums and Orchids already growing in my garden. I have a "borrowed scenery" Plum (they are so messy) across the street in the front and I have opted not to incorporate 竹 in my garden (as I'm afraid of most of them)!

When I see Mums blooming at the garden center or grocery store, I always have to grab a few new ones to ensure my long life and happiness.

They just teleport into my cart.

Apparently, Chrysanthemum's in addition to being ornamental and medicinal, are also magical.

Every year they come out with some new fancy color just to tempt me. I have so many now that I can't tell  them apart color-wise. Most of the time their names don't help either. "White Daisy" is pretty easy to spot in the garden, but "Spicy Cheryl" or "Foxy Marjorie" are a tad bit more confusing.

At this point, they're all just "garden mums" to me, but for a few exotics and one species with gray foliage and yellow flowers. 

Chrysanthemum 'Red Daisy'
Chrysanthemum 'Plum Crazy'
Chrysanthemum 'Spicy Cheryl'
Chrysanthemum 'White Daisy'

'Pearly White'
The past few summers, I've been (easily) seduced into several specialty Chrysanthemums from the Portland Chrysanthemum Society shows. I've just planted them directly in the garden to grow like regular garden Mums and not in pots like they often do for the shows.

'Lili Gallon'?
Spider Mum
Unknown variety - but it's pretty stunning.

Chrysanthemum Show at Division Street Portland Nursery.
There are several "fancy" Mums that are new to The Lents Farmer this year.

A variety that I particularly loved when I saw it at a show was an intermediate incurve Mum named "Gertrude". Each petal has tiny hair-like pubescences covering it, giving the flower a hairy/fluffy look.
Chrysanthemum 'Gertrude' at the Mum Show.
My Chrysanthemum 'Gertrude' with buds. I could have removed all those side buds, leaving just the center one.
'Gertrude' got pretty floppy when we had lots or rain a few weeks ago and needed a stake.
Close up of Gerty! You can just see the little hairy parts.
I don't know much about the technical aspects of disbudding Mums or pinching off new lateral growths. I just played around with it a little this season. Mostly, I left the buds, for more, but smaller flowers.
Chrysanthemum 'Quan Yon Hung' unfurling in the Autumn sun.

Chrysanthemum 'Quan Yon Hung' (Irregular Incurve Mum) bud slowly opening.

With 'Quan Yon Hung", an irregular incurve Mum, which had only three stems on the plant, I did remove (disbud) all the extra side buds from each stem, leaving just one big bud at the end. I will have three large gorgeous flowers for my efforts!  This plant also needed support and got tied to a stake after all the rains.

Chrysanthemum 'Judith Baker' (Quill Mum) in bud. Aster 'Henry III' in the back
Chrysanthemum 'First Light' (Anemone Form Mum) with Agave american 'Opal'

I will impatiently wait for the buds to fully open and report back with more pictures when it happens!


  1. Those spidery mums get my blood flowing.

  2. The big beautiful specialty mums always grab my attention at shows but I've never grown any. Good for you for actually doing it!