I love chrysanthemums. Not garage forecourt bottom of the bin Saturday afternoon supermarket plastic wrapped ones, not those. The ones that I grow and I reckon they are due a rebranding.
This is a fairly nascent love affair. You see, there aren't really that many different cut flowers. That's why we pour over the seed and plant catalogues each year looking for the new varieties, a juicy colour combination or petal shape. Because we are all after something a little sparkly aren't we? There are some flowers that I just don't grow, they didn't warrant the attention but then after a few years, I might see something different in them, or think of another stem they'd work well alongside and I will try them again.
I tried chrysanthemums a few years ago when after something new and shiny. I made a mistake of growing them in the polytunnel all summer and the foliage reached the ceiling way before they started flowering. They just don't need that kind of protection. I didn't love what was around, and it's only the last couple of years that I have managed to source the colours and shapes I was after. Now I'm enchanted. And after a couple of years, I have got quite a collection. They are easy peasy to take cuttings from, and so many will over winter outside without any protection or care. I really love the smell too. I know it's not everyone's delight, and that's what makes this growing lark so enjoyable - 'one mans meat is another's poisson' as my Dad would say.
So the chrysanthemums are blooming in Braybrooke garden. The outside ones are shorter 3' or so, beautiful petal shapes, Korean varieties. They have lovely shaped stems - 'I find a certain deliberate neglect produces charming results; a few curved stems are such an asset when arranging flowers. One only has to try arranging a dozen of the huge rigid-stemmed flowers of commerce to re-lease how a lack of curves can be.' Anna Lamplight Notebook on flower decoration 1936. One only has to look at the books and notes from about a...century ago for inspiration!
Then there are some later flowering ones that were planted in pots, kept outside all summer, then in about 10mins, bought into the tunnel. Now, with the rain off them, will bloom until Christmas. Well, that is if I haven't cut them for orders! These can get a little stiff in stem so I let these drop and fall around to be useful.
And I don't think I am the only one. The depth of colours and smells seem so evocative of autumn. What do you think?
Three for the Weekend
Growing is slowing down, and so will these jobs as we move further around the sun towards the winter.
Plant out annuals. If the plants have grown into their modules and made a good rootball, you will be better off getting them into the ground. Soon they will stop growing leaves, but the roots will grow on, anchoring deeply over the winter. Good roots mean great intereatciton with the soil biology. Making it easier for plants to reach both water and nutrients swopping carbon in return. That is why perennials and annuals sown in the late summer are larger and earlier flowering, growing from great roots.
Chop off green manure flowers Since it is so mild, they are all trying to flower. I don't want them to self sow, but they are more useful to the soil as an improver when they aren't flowering. They can carry on growing this winter and feeding the soil, keeping it active. I am still sowing mustard as I lift plants and don't have plants to go in yet. Mustard will bind my loose sand soil preventing erosion and improve the structure whilst suppressing weeds.
Weeding In the long border, the borage has gone wild - I have huge plants in there and the leaves lull lazily over some of my more precious perennials and iris. They seem hardy here and will flower all winter. Borage is a great accelerator in the compost heap, useless in flower arrangements. I let it self sow; flowers might make it into a jug of elderflower, but it is mostly used as a 'filler' to reduce the vigour of more problematic weeds, then cut down. I am gathering these plants now, and piling up under a carpet until I have enough to create another compost cake in mid November. I leave the roots in the ground so as not to disturb other plants.
Photos from this week on the plots and in the studio -
Great soil connection and roots from a cornflower seedling sown just a few weeks ago.
Potting on poppies, orlaya and angelica into 7cm pots to overwinter. They are too small to plant out yet. Might be ready this side of Christmas but will see how they do.
Chrysanthemums with dahlias for a posy order.
Chrysanthemums .. This variety is Avignon - a 'cafe au lait' dahlia version - complex peachy, beige colours.
I keep being asked for varieties. Will scramble around for the labels and get back to you.
Still loving the dahlias - and the stems seem stronger and longer now as the blooms are sent up in double quick time now with shorter cooler days.