I spotted these “mums” on the left (above, click to enlarge), growing outside the hospital where I’ve been going for my cardiac rehab. They’re replacements for petunias grown in exactly the same way and look like nothing more than a display of footstools outside a furniture store. Although they’re perfectly hardy, they’re treated as seasonal bedding plants and will be replaced when they’re over.
This is one two main ways we see chrysanths here in the US, the familiar alternative is to grow similar varieties as individual specimens in pots, on the front steps perhaps. These, too, will be discarded after a couple of months.
Interestingly, this approach replicates the way plants were grown hundreds of years ago when it was so often the individual plant that was important, and each was allowed space from its neighbor so that it could be appreciated as an individual.
An alternative style is shown above right, where tall single flowered types are planted in a slightly chaotic effervescence of color. As it happens, this much more British way of growing them is seen at the New York Botanical Garden, where all these so far unnamed varieties were developed. But they’re planted so closely together, and so in need of support, that getting in to dead head is impossible.
Personally, I wouldn’t grow them either way. I choose varieties in the same style as those single Korean types at the New York BG, but mix them with perennial asters of various kinds as well as eupatoriums, heleniums, sedums and other late perennials plus shrubs such as physocarpus and euonymus with a long season of fall leaf color. But unfortunately we don't have enough sun here in Pennsylvania for the these sun-loving autumn perennials to thrive, it’s now just too shady.
And while we’re talking about of chrysanths I thought you might like to see these bargain plants I spotted on sale (click to enlarge). Yes, 88 cents – that’s fifty pence. Too cheap, they’re too cheap. No one can make a living from producing plants that sell at that price.
UPDATE: Today, nine days after I took the picture of the footstool chrysanthemums in full color - they look like this (left, click to enlarge). Ghastly.
Nearby - this is at the Pocono Medical Center at East Stroudsburg, PA, where I've been going two or three times week for my cardiac rehab - are plantings of New Guinea impatiens which have been looking good for months.
Today I also spotted some double yellow French marigolds which also look as if they've been there for months are are flowering away merrily.
OK, we can't expect a hospital to grow chrysanths like they do at the New York Botanical Garden. But first there were petunias - which we poor - and then there were these chrysanthemums which were colorful for about a week. The marigolds were surely the best value - by far.
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