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Chrysanthemums, The Garden's Swansong, November 2022

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

It's late November and the flower field is quiet, muddy, faded, with skeletal plants, soggy leaves and flower heads fast becoming their own mulch. Yet, in the quiet corner of the polytunnel, there is a riot of colour so vibrant and uncharacteristic for this time of year, it's a delight - chrysanthemums!

Our chrysanthemum plants were green and unassuming all year, in the background while everything else around them bloomed and went. Now, when all the flowers in the field have disappeared, they have graced us with a beauty that is so welcome and so divine. The chrysanthemum has become fairly unpopular over the years and whether this comes from seeing them piled high in the wholesale flower market or dyed and choked in plastic wraps in supermarkets, ubiquitous and available all year round, it's an unfair opinion of a flower variety so unique, so beautiful, so versatile, so long-lasting, and available in the early winter when little else is flowering. We love them!

Like so many other flowers, the chrysanthemum has been victim to mass manufacture, modernisation, breeding, and the loss of many characteristics that make these plants so special. The results of this intense breeding are straight stems, flat colours, uniform flower heads, and falsified perfection. Our chrysanthemums are nothing like this; they are complex, scented, with squiggly stems, and in a vast range of jewel-colours. The double flowers are like a rose and the single flowers like daisies, with several flower heads on one stem. And then there are the idiosyncratic spidery ones, giant pom pom ones, dwarf ones, we love them all! They also have a long vase life lasting up to 4 weeks and even more!

In 2021, we bought a selection of old varieties from a British breeder and grew them for the first time in the polytunnel. After a year of gaining strength, we had a great harvest from our plants this year and they seemed to enjoy the climate indoors, protected nicely from the wet and windy Autumn weather in the company of the dahlias. They are also very easy to grow from cuttings and being such a valuable fresh flower available in the last few months of the year, we know our collection is going to grow and grow.


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