‘Climbing’ mum brightens November
Posted: Tuesday, December 2, 2008 9:27 pm
By: By JIMMY WILLIAMS Special to The Messenger
I never loved a tree or flower
Which was the first to fade away.
—Charles Stewart Calverley
We have a chrysanthemum of long years’ standing growing in our red border.
It isn’t red (oh that it were) but a nice golden yellow. The blooms are little buttons, an inch or so across, in themselves nothing to write home about. But en masse, and at their late blooming time (now, to wit), the effect is something to write home about. Or at least something to write, forthwith, to you about.
How and where I acquired that chrysanthemum is lost in the flaked-out section of my long-term gray matter. It might have begun as a florist mum received as a gift on some holiday, or it might have been started from a bit of a hand-me-down plant from someone else’s garden. The late bloom time is indicative of some florist mums. Though forced into bloom at almost any season, when placed in the garden they often bloom very late, sometimes too late for garden practicality.
This one, however, just gets in under the (freeze) wire, with its November — and sometimes into December — flowering. The blooms are very frost resistant, as you can imagine, and will easily stand 25 degrees without any damage.
This thing is a rambler. I suppose I could pinch it regularly during summer and keep it to a bushy two feet or so, but I have learned over the years that I can make an effective “climber” with little effort. Imagine that; a climbing chrysanthemum.
The plant is a rampant grower, making offsets at the crown apace, so that it requires thinning and reducing every spring. In fact, I probably throw out more than I keep every year.
Beginning at ground level, the vigorous top growth can stretch to six feet or more in a season. Since it is growing between a Victor crape myrtle and a Hot Cocoa rose (which itself can carry on into November as well) the strands can be woven and plaited up through the branches of both shrubs. By November blooming time the mum reaches to fully six feet, just about the height of the rose and crape myrtle, the latter being a semi-dwarf variety.
The main stems of the mum have, in the meantime during the summer, produced side branches to six inches or a foot long, creating a most interesting display of numerous flowers splaying out of the crape myrtle and rose.
This never fails to impress garden guests, most of whom do not realize at first that it is a chrysanthemum. At a distance it appears the flowers are the product of the two shrubs and not of a vining plant.
We have other fully hardy and dependable chrysanthemums that also bloom late, but none have been around as long as our “climbing” chrysanthemum.
From Poor Willie’s Almanack — I am thankful for my climbing mum.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.
Published in The Messenger 12.2.08
Jimmy Williams, The Garden Path