more chrysanthemums

As autumn drifts into winter, the magical chrysanthemums are still giving us gorgeous bright crops of interesting flowers.  We still have only a few plants of most of the fifteen or so varieties which we grow, and there are scores more varieties of these wonderful late-flowering hardy outdoor kinds.  We ran out of space in our main planting beds this year and in the end some of the new hardy varieties were squeezed into beds at the very top and bottom of the garden, East- and West-facing respectively, and backed by the high brick walls.  The plants grew fine, but when they started to put out their long flowering stems, there was too little light, and the stems had to crane forwards and flop over to get at it.  The plants still made lovely flowers, perhaps a big bucket for each two plants in their first year, but we are hoping for many more stems to pick next year, when we divide the plants and move them to somewhere more open and sunny.  Favourite varieties this year have included Anne Ratsey, a pale lemon daisy which often has pretty pink stripes on the petals, very vigourous and generous; Killerton Tangerine, a neat loose orange pompon with a long flowering season; Perry's Peach, a soft peach daisy flower, very tall and prolific and so popular with our florist customers; and my own very favourite, Emperor of China. Perhaps one of the reasons I like this is that we used to live in China, and the pretty spoon-petalled flowers conjure up for me all the ancient romance of that country.  Also, Emperor of China flowers very late, grows very tall, and has beautiful divided leaves which develop a rich beetroot-red stain, almost prettier than the neat pink flowers.