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The Chrysanthemum Traveled from China to England

This mum called ‘Pink Graceland” was part of last year’s annual Chrysanthemum Show at Smith College, Northampton, MA.

Fall chrysanthemums now appear in all kinds of colors including purple and red.  You see them wherever you go. It seems like you can’t get away from them.  The chrysanthemum has truly become the fall favorite for garden display.

The chrysanthemum appeared in the early nineteenth century in England as an exotic plant from China. By that time the British had long been traveling to China, for many reasons, including collecting plants for English gardens.

Eventually the chrysanthemum made its way to American gardens.  The Boston nurseryman Charles Mason Hovey wrote in 1846 “few plants afford more gratification than a good collection of chrysanthemums.”  Nurseryman Thomas Meehan said in his magazine Gardener’s Monthly in 1863 that chrysanthemums were indispensable for autumn decoration of the flower garden.  The garden scene is not much different today.

Later in the nineteenth century seed and nursery catalogs featured collections of this plant for the gardener and thus it became a mainstay of the American garden. The fascination this plant creates has been around for a long time.

The flower comes in various shapes and sizes, including small pompons as little as a dime, to huge ‘spider’ shaped varieties.  Some look like daisies.

In cold climates like the northeast mums, as they are called, are treated as annuals unless you start to grow them outdoors in the spring as a perennial, and them trim them regularly to avoid a leggy growth.

What usually happens however is that each autumn you make a trip to the garden center to purchase mums to replace the summer annuals that can’t take the cooler nights of the fall.

Recently James Roush, a guest blogger on Garden Rant, wrote how he hates this plant.  What about you?  What is it that you like or dislike about it?


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