Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tis "mum" season

Chrysanthe-mum that is. The garden centers are full of them, so is Home Depot and just about anywhere else that might have an excuse for selling flowers or plants or gifts or food... the ones I bought and planted last year have just started flowering. I think I lost a couple through planting them in the wrong place (feet in brackish mud?), but most are doing very well. Despite a nibble here and there by the deer, before they realise they are not as tasty as the hostas.

However. Try as I might, I cannot find "real" chrysanthemums. And no-one knows what I mean.

These all have tiny flowers. The biggest flower is two inches in diameter. And that may be exaggerating. Mostly they are about an inch wide. Pretty... but "containered". Despite growing in the garden, they still look like they are growing in a pot. A pot that is too small for the roots, and which is miniaturising the entire plant, flowers and all.

But it's not something I have done to them. All the chrysanthemums, apparently, in New York state are these midgets. Yes they are pretty. But where are their relatives????

I mean the chrysanthemums that can compete with dahlias.
I mean the ones with incurve petals. And heavy heads.
The ones on long stems that you strip the leaves off to put into vases, leaving your hands with that unique chrysanthemum scent.
I mean the ones that you put by graves in France on November 1st. I mean the 'mums that I grew up with, those hardy garden plants with their oak-like leaves.

Why the heck do they not exist in New York???? Surely it's not a climate thing--'mums will survive well-below zero, and they enjoy the warm sun too.

Guess what I need to bring back from England next time :-)

Oh. I have found them. In New York. In the botanical gardens... well if they can grow there, if they can grow in England, if they can grow in Japan, then I'm pretty certain they can grow in my garden in Mastic Beach too. And shame on the garden centers that haven't a clue.

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