Today we celebrate the chrysanthemum, that fabulous flower of fall.
Each year right after Labor Day, chrysanthemum plants seem to materialize out of the blue at grocery stores, home improvement stores and garden centers. Mums are the poster child of fall in the world of flowers and no other flower can match the chrysanthemum as the epitome of fall. No wonder they are the second most popular flower in the world, right behind roses.
Did you know that mums are the most widely grown potted plant and largest commercially grown flower in the country? Well, now you do!
A Brief but Informative History Lesson: While most species originate from East Asia and some from northeastern Europe, China is the epicenter of mumdom! The Chinese started cultivating them as far back as the 15th century BC and by the year 1630 over 500 cultivars had been recorded. In 2014, it was estimated that there are now over 20,000 cultivars in the world, 7000 of them in China alone. That’s a lota mums!
The chrysanthemum made its way to Japan around the 8thcentury AD. The Japanese were so taken by this flower that they adopted it as the crest and official seal of the Emperor. It has played an important role in Japanese culture ever since.
The chrysanthemum was first introduced into the United States during colonial times.
In Chinese culture, the chrysanthemum is a symbol of autumn and the flower of the ninth moon. During the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), people drank chrysanthemum wine on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. It was thought to prolong their lives.
Mums in the Garden: Fast forward to present day Portland where every year for the past 6 years, well except this year(you know, that COVID thing?!), the Lan Su Chinese Garden along with the Floral Design Institute, has presented the Ninth Moon Floral Design Showcase featuring the work of 25 floral designers from the Pacific Northwest. One of the main criteria for each design is that it has to incorporate mums.
Designers are chosen by panel of experts I have been lucky enough to have been chosen to participate every year and each year I am blown away by the talent, creativity and beauty that is on display.
These are not your average everyday floral arrangements, this is floral art! It is something I look forward to every year and am already dreaming up something for next year. It is always the first weekend in November so mark your calendars now!
Mums in a Vase: Mums make excellent long lasting cut flowers, hence their popularity in the florist trade.
The variety of mums available is remarkable. From tiny mini daisy mums that measure approximately 1/2” in diameter
to the giant football mums as big as your head, literally!
And every size in between.
Mums come in almost every color of the rainbow which make them super versatile. They come in solid colors, bi-colors, tri-colors and more. I love using the bronze and brown Fuji mums along with the new dusty pink and mauve varieties. Mix them with blush or champagne colored roses, dusty pink carnations, peach stock, dried grasses and oak foliage for a lovely yet unexpected autumn color combination.
What’s that you say? A Blue Chrysanthemum?!
Yep, it’s true! Now they come in every color of the rainbow. The Japanese company Suntory has developed the world’s first true blue mum. I am sure you have seen those garish blue mums at the grocery store but those are dyed. But I am sure you knew that. Anyway, this is the real deal and actually very pretty. But don’t start calling me to get some because at this point they are not available. The USDA rejected the company’s request to have them grown here in the US or even imported as a cut flower. It’s a genetically modified organism and there are some concerns with it at this point.
Well I could go on and on about mums but we’d be here til Thanksgiving!
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