Saturday, November 2, 2013

Korean Mums

I like flowers that show considerable variation, not boring sameness

This new seedling is my favorite one so far

Korean mums are in full bloom at my school garden, they have done superbly despite the October drought and no supplemental watering.  Over the years they have self seeded and new colors appear among the seedlings.  They were apparently bred in Connecticut back in the 1930s from a particularly hardy mum species, but because of their tall and sometimes floppy growth one doesn't see them around much these days.  NYBG grows some, and used to have a huge garden full of them back in the day when I worked there, and they are also still grown, I think, in Central Park on the east side near 5th Avenue in a garden there.  I was given seeds by a fellow NYBG staff member some years ago, and I grew a few out for my school garden years later (I keep the seeds in the refrigerator, a practice that greatly extends seed viability).  They cavort well with the other tallish plants in their allotted area at the top of the slope (though some seedlings have appeared lower down) and sometimes flop over the sidewalk back there, but other teachers have complemented them on their colors and a light fragrance they seem to exude on nice days.  The sleeping bumblebee in the last pic is a typical sight at this time of year, as the weather grows colder and frost threatens. We have been spared any but the lightest touch of frost thus far but that wont last much longer.  The bumblebees tend to sleep on flowers overnight rather than returning to their nest. 
These mums are not for small gardens, but unlike the color blobs that pass as "mums" sold in every grocery or box store this time of year, they are graceful plants with an endless variety of colors  in single to semidouble flowers.  They fit well into a cottage garden design and are bone hardy.   Deer will occasionally eat some of the flower buds, but for some reason this year the hooved rats did not bother them at all.  


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Mark McDonough said...

These are really beautiful plants for a autumn garden; currently I only grow one, Dendranthema 'Samba'. I like how they grow as opposed to the pinched "color blobs" so often seen. Some of the spontaneous color forms you show here are wonderful.

Mark McDonough
USDA Zone 5
Massachusetts, near the New Hampshire border.