Just returned from the Smith College annual Fall Chrysanthemum Show in Northampton, Massachusetts which runs through November 20.
It is a worthwhile show to visit. The number of plants and the colors of the flower take your breath away.
I thought of the nineteenth century American seed and nursery catalogs and what they had to say about this marvelous flower.
The following quote from the Robert Buist Seed Catalog of 1895 came from my work at the catalog collection at the Library of the Department of Agriculture.
Buist’s catalog of that year said: “It has not been many years since the Chrysanthemum was regarded by the masses as being unworthy of cultivation, the flowers although of brilliant colors were common in their appearance, and their color obnoxious; but today our Chrysanthemum exhibitions throughout the country are great and fashionable events, and it may be classed as the great American favorite. This change in sentiment is owing to the great improvements made in the coloring, size, and exquisite form of the flower.”
The improvements in the flower certainly show at the Smith College exhibition.
In 1891 American gardener James Morton wrote in his book Chrysanthemum Culture for America that “numerous works have been devoted to this favorite flower, but they are chiefly of English origin, and in view of the great difference in our climatic conditions, they can only with uncertainty be adopted as guides in our country”. So he wrote his book for American gardeners.
Morton mentioned a yellow mum called ‘Golden Empress’. You will see several pots of it at the Smith Exhibit.