I can’t believe I turned my nose up at chrysanthemums. It might have been the huge Pom Pom flowers that put me off. Some the size of a head. All stiffly growing in rows, marshalled into line by an army of stakes and string.
Not my kind of gardening- and I’d probably have composted any cuttings or plants that came my way.
But this year I’ve had a change of heart. My father in law handed over a cutting of a yellow spider chrysanthemum. It’s a plant that has been passed around the family and grown for over 70 years. My father in law is struggling with mobility now and can no longer garden. In fact this year we’ve been running two gardens- theirs and our own. We’ve all worked like demons to keep their immaculate garden up to standard. And the reward has been the smiles and comments from every carer, nurse and visitor to the house. Their glorious flower-and veg- filled garden has been preserved.
And so has their much-prized chrysanthemum. I couldn’t be the one to let the side down. I couldn’t let the family chrysanthemum -known as Aunty Doris- die out. So it’s been potted on and watered and fed, and generally fussed over all summer. And I’m surprised to find that I totally love it. It has personality. The glorious sunny yellow flowers open like a sea anemone. It’s fascinating to watch. As the flowers grow, the centres turn a beautiful emerald green.
After all that nurturing – the flowers are returning to my mother in law, Joan. Just as her husband of 66 years has always grown them for her, I’m growing them now.
In the posy this week is Chrysanthemum Stallion Yellow and white Swan from Cheshire family nursery Chrysanthemums Direct. Bought as plugs from RHS autumn show. I think they cost around £1 each, and have made good strong plants in a year. I’m an organic gardener, and on my potting shed table is some natural fertiliser I’m trying out from PlantGrow. I’ll let you know how I get on with it.
Chrysanthemum Swan in the centre, surrounded by rosemary, verbena bonariensis, pittosporum silver queen, rudbeckia grown from seed, violas and grasses. The orange balls are sprays of seed from crocosmia, and the grey foliage is Artemisia Powis Castle.
The blue flower spikes are Plectranthus Argentea which is now sheltering in the heated greenhouse for the winter and will provide flowers right through until February. This and many other plants in my greenhouse came from The Herb Nursery at Thistleton. Another family-run business I like to support.
The good news is, there’s about 6 more weeks of Aunty Doris chrysanthemums to come. I expect we will even have them on our Christmas table. A reason to celebrate- to be sure.
Have you ever tried to keep a family favourite flower or plant in circulation? Thanks as always to Cathy for hosting this In a Vase on Monday meme. Do take a look and see what gardeners around the world are growing.