Last summer I wanted to grow a flower that wasn’t being grown around here anymore. Everyone grows dahlias and sunflowers and sells them at the markets. I wanted something different. It was last summer when I started thinking about the old-fashioned chrysanthemums. I am not talking about the mums we see in all the big box stores that look like a perfect mound. I have tried those in my garden and they don’t always come back every year. I wanted to grow something unique.
I looked online to see where I could find some of the old-fashioned mums and found only one place in the United States that sold them. That wouldn’t do as I live in Canada and importing plants is difficult. One day I noticed that the Point Grey Chrysanthemum Association was having a show and sale at VanDusen Botanical Gardens. It was there that I picked up six chrysanthemum plants. I had no idea what to look for but a club volunteer picked out four types of mums for me. I knew nothing about growing them at this point but trusted her. The yellow flower above is Chrysanthemum ‘Connie Mayhew’. It’s not fully open yet so I look forward to seeing it bloom over the next week. I was getting worried the flowers wouldn’t open as we entered November. This is the time of year when we can get a light frost. Luckily its been warmer than normal.
Chrysanthemums have a long history dating back over 2000 years when they were cultivated by specialists before reaching Europe in the 17th century. The Japanese are well known for being the first to cultivate Chrysanthemums and called it Ki-Ku- the Queen of the East and it became the personal emblem of the emperor. This elegant flower is classed into many categories depending on the shape of its flowers.
I am not positive but think that this Chrysanthemum ‘Rayonnante Pink’ is probably a spider type as it has slender drooping petals. Being a rookie with these flowers, I planted them in a raised bed with some dahlias. Fortunately the chrysanthemums did amazingly well in the garden this year. Most chrysanthemums we see nowadays are short but the ones I grew topped out at four feet high and are loaded with blooms. I found myself checking on them often to make sure the supports were working.
Next year I will have to learn how to disbud the plants as they grow so the flowers don’t grow so crammed together. Disbudding is the removal of side buds so that all energy can be directed into producing one single magnificent flower. This is often done if you were to show the flowers at a competition. Now I am not going to enter any flower shows so I may only pinch a few buds off to thin the plants. One thing I did learn is they need a good strong support just like you would use for dahlias. Above is Chrysanthemum ‘Shirley Victoria’ with its glorious rust coloured flowers. Next year I will train them along bamboo supports and tie them in as they grow. This could end up as addicting as growing dahlias and I already have 25 of those. I have to thank the Point Grey Chrysanthemum Association for their guidance and recommendations. I look forward to growing some new plants next spring.