Monday, September 19, 2016

Hardy Mums

Chrysanthemums, and the family member that introduced them to me, have been an enduring force in my need to garden.  At about thirteen years of age, I visited my great grandfather's home in south western Pennsylvania.  Carefully tended fruit trees, flowers and vegetables flourished across his home site.  He gave me a piece of one of his mums to take with me when I returned home.  The fate of that plant cannot be recalled but memories of his gardens are still with me.

This hardy mum is named Mammoth Pink.  Our harsh spring nearly ended this plant but it managed to survive in two places.  Located near the house, reflected winter sunlight and its warmth helped this plant survive.  Early growth was sparse and the plant is low to the ground but it may return again next year.  The other one is planted out in the garden and displayed similar growth.  That patch was huge but only a couple of plants remain alive now.  Bright pink color marks newly opened flowers.  Washed out white and broken petals identify older blossoms.

Clara Curtis grows here with a vigor that reminds one of dandelions.  These two clumps are on the south side of a stone wall and that favorable placement may have helped them survive.  We move these throughout the garden and the plant self seeds.

We have spring purchased small potted mums from Bluestone Perennials for several years.  Their mums are clearly labeled as hardy to zone 5 but we try and try again with mixed success.  At this moment only one of their traditional mums remains alive.  Small and showing only a single bud atop a solitary stem, the plant remains alive.  If the coming winter brings lasting snow cover, it may make a greater appearance next year.  We will order again intending to place the new arrivals in the area in front of the house.

This Emperor of China has been here for years.  In milder weather it spreads widely.  Late to open flowers, it is without question among the last to bloom.  It is possible that the buds must be frosted before they will open.  It too is shorter than usual this year.  We will watch to see if this gardening year ends with these pink blossoms.

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