November 01, 2012

Garden confessions

Do you neglect any of your plants or sections of your garden? Of course you don't!


But, alas, I must confess that I do. One example is a grouping of Chrysanthemums I've sorely neglected since we moved here 13 years ago.


I know I'm supposed to pinch, divide, and winter-protect Mums, but...well...yeah, I've pretty much ignored them beyond a little watering and cutting back in the fall.


I don't know why. Maybe it's because I take them for granted and they've always survived. Or because they're so underappreciated by many gardeners (kind of like Hostas that way). Or because they flower when I'm spending most of my time inside reading books or preparing for the holidays.


OK, enough with the excuses! I'm just a poor Mum gardener!


So, it surprised me this year when I noticed how pretty they are--maybe the prettiest they've ever been. When we moved here, they were all bright yellow. The kind of sunny, perky color that you can't witness without smiling.


But as I reported in a previous post, these Mums have developed "sports" in amazing varieties and forms! The mutations are as luscious as the original plants.


And the colorful foliage is as pretty as the flowers.


The pollinators love 'em.


The grouping looks like a planned collection of mixed varieties--but it's truly pure chance!


I'm not featuring these Mums as "plant of the month" because I have no idea what variety they are, and of course with the sports, that's even more uncertain.


Since they pleased me so much this fall, maybe I'll have to take better care of them next year.

46 comments:

  1. What a colorful array of blooms you have! If I were you, I wouldn't do anything differently next year because they seem to thrive on neglect. Of course, that happens to be my excuse for not working in certain areas of the garden very often, too:)

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one! I have good intentions, but sometimes I'm not the best at follow-through--especially when the garden is winding down. ;-)

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  2. If that's the way they look when you neglect them, I'd say you aren't very neglectful! They are gorgeous. And in answer to your question, Yes, I definitely have parts of my garden I don't just neglect---but downright avoid, lol. Love the mums, so colorful.

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    1. Thanks! I usually don't notice them much, but they were especially pretty this year. Now I'm feeling guilty!

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  3. This past summer I neglected many of my vegetable plants for long periods. I was always amazed at how resilient they were and the fact that they still produced fruit. Mother Nature has a way of taking care of her own, I guess. Your mums are gorgeous. Whatever you're doing (or not doing!) is working! :)

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    1. Thanks! Isn't it great to have fresh veggies that mostly take care of themselves? Regarding the Mums, other than transplanting a few, I think I'll probably continue to let them be. I like the look of all the sports. :)

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  4. Gorgeous photos. I've never really bothered with mums thinking they would be too much work but clearly you've proved me wrong!

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    1. Thank you, Karen. I've never been a huge fan of Mums, but this year they flirted with me and won me over. ;-)

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  5. I like those kinds of surprises, Beth. I have chrysanthemums all over the garden because each year I plant the potted ones I buy for autumn decorations. Some do better than others. I try to remember to pinch them, but there are times I miss a few. Some get more water than others. I think it is a fine thing indeed when the plants veer off and do their own thing. From your photos, they seem to be doing very well.

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    1. I've done that a few times, too, Michelle. But none of the potted ones I planted have performed as well as the plants that were here when we moved in. Now I'm hoping they'll come back strong again next year!

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  6. Maybe they're trying to earn their keep! They are lovely. As to neglect, my lack of attention seemst to rotate among several of my more out-of-the-way flowerbeds.

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    1. Maybe that's it! Now that I'm enamored of them, they'll probably look more boring or struggle next year. Gosh, it's good to know other gardeners aren't perfect. ;-)

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  7. Beautiful photos. I think I neglected the whole garden this year. I did a lot of traveling and I know the garden missed me.

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    1. Donna: I'd never know it from your photos! I figured you had a picture-perfect, tidy, and organized garden! My garden has been neglected too much in recent years because of my crazy work schedule. But I should have more time next spring and summer. Yay!

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  8. Those peach-colored blooms are stunning.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I have a thing for the peachy-creamy ones, too. And peach-colored foliage is luscious, too.

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  9. They are beautiful....wish I had something like that here.

    Maybe they respond to less care, and perform better that way for you.

    Jen

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I guess they're doing OK. I was worried about them a little bit in the drought, but all I did was water them about once or twice a week, and they came through OK. I can't believe how pretty they are this fall after such a tough summer!

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  10. Yes, I do neglect plants and sections of my garden! :O I have never understood why mums are so very under-appreciated. They need a new PR agent! Yours are gorgeous. I love the photos showing the different colored groupings. I think they are the perfect compliment to grey autumn skies.

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    1. Whew...again, I'm glad other gardeners let things go sometimes, too. When I stop to think about it, it's kind of funny what a range of care I give to various plants. I fawned over the Hydrangeas, Hyacinth Beans, and vegetables all summer, and they didn't live up to expectations. But I neglected the Mums and they exceeded expectations.

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  11. I want my whole garden to be full of plants like your mums that require no additional care after they are planted. They are beautiful. When you say sports do you mean seedlings or actual branches of an existing plant with different color flowers? It's very interesting, and I love the colors that have joined the yellow.

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    1. Hi Carolyn: Yes, wouldn't that be great if all plants would just take off and thrive on neglect? Well, maybe not because then gardening would be boring, right? Regarding the sports, all I know is that the plants seem to change from year to year. Originally the three groupings of Mums were all bright, sunny yellow ones (if I'm remembering correctly). But now they've morphed into about five or six different shapes and colors. And I didn't even show the purple ones in this post because they were faded. Weird, huh?

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  12. Beth I would continue to garden from a distance with these beauties. They seem to like the "neglect". My area between the trees has been neglected and needs a total redo but if we lose these trees we will have to redo the area...oh well I think I will wait another year....but I love those mums!

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    1. I guess so. They sure are fascinating the way they keep morphing into different colors and shapes. That must be so difficult to know you're probably going to lose so many large trees, Donna. I keep thinking about your dilemma. :(

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  13. Those are so lovely! I don't know, they seem to be pretty stunning on their own. Why meddle with what is working? LOL! I never pinch my mums. I just let them do their thing and enjoy!

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    1. I kept thinking I was neglecting them and even thought about pulling them out because they tend to be kind of sprawling. But after this year's show, I think I'll simply keep on doing the same thing--watering occasionally and cutting back after the go dormant in late fall.

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  14. They sure don't seem to mind the neglect! I love what you said about having to smile when you see yellow flowers. That is so true!!

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    1. I feel the same way about Sunflowers! They are so cheery, I just can't be down when I see them. :)

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  15. Very nice! Are these any special variety of Mums?

    How do you think they would handle the heat of the SE (Tennessee)?

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    1. Hi Aaron: I have no idea what they are! I wish I did! The previous owners planted them, and they've morphed so much I can't reliably say what they are anymore. I think the original ones were bright yellow with big yellow centers. I would guess they'd do quite well in Tennessee! We had a hot, dry summer this year and they thrived. Record highs, long periods with no rain. I watered them occasionally, but still... I'd say check with your garden center about garden Mums that work well in your zone. Enjoy!

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  16. Maybe your neglect is really just tough love. They seem to be thriving! I love how easy mums are. Maybe they don't need us as much as like to think they do.

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    1. Tough love...yeah, that's it. Nothing to do with laziness or neglect. But, as you say, they seem to thrive on it. :)

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  17. what this post makes me think of is my fave garden designer and writer, Australian now dead, Edna Walling. One of the many wonderful things she said was that everyone should have a garden that's just a bit too big look after. So often our interventions don't result in the same beauty as when we allow them to do their own thing! The mums are gorgeous and the bees think so too.

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    1. Thanks for that thought! I really appreciate it. I think that's probably true. Since I don't have a hired gardener or any money to spend on my garden, it's just a little bit too big for me to look after it all--especially during a summer of brutal weather. Fortunately, the Mums seem to thrive on my neglect. ;-)

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  18. I do appreciate Chrysanthemums, even if in Italy we never give them as a gift, as they are believed to bring bad luck. This because we use to lay these flowers on the graves on 2 November, "All soul's day". Beyond this, I love them because they brighten me up during these present, misty, fall days.

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    1. I so appreciate your perspective, Dona. I think I, too, associate Mums with funerals and burials because people so often request them for those purposes. Maybe that's why I neglected them. But they have really surprised me this year. They seem more a symbol of life and survival after making it through and thriving during a brutal summer.

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  19. Your mums are beautiful! I love plants that don't require a lot of attention. I have a group of mums that have spread into a ground cover under a tree. I rarely do anything to them, and they look just fine. My kind of plant!

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    1. Yep, I agree with you, Deb. Obviously, I haven't appreciated them enough up to this point. That has changed. :)

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  20. Love your photos. I've never put mums in the garden because I've felt they would be too much work. After seeing your mums, though, I'll have to give them a try. My mother lives near you, on the east side of Madison, and her mums are also stunning this fall, again without any care.

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    1. Hi Karen: It must be that Madison-area magic that's perfect for Mums. ;-) More likely the soil. In the past, I never would have recommended Mums, but after they thrived during the drought they've earned some respect.

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  21. Mums have never been my favorites, maybe because of having to cut them back so they won't blooms too early. I found some 'Debonair' mums I liked, so I planted them. My husband then requested that I plant more, and I did, but I do tend to neglect them, too, after a cutting back in the summer, sometimes after a few buds have started to form, which I don't think you are supposed to do.

    I sure love your collection! I didn't know they would self sow. How cool to have your own "hybrids", or "sports" as you called them. They look awesome together, too.

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    1. I'm going to research 'Debonair.' Thanks, I'm not sure they self-sow, but maybe. I think they just shift to different varieties for some reason. Here's a good link explaining "sports" and mutations:
      http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/profile.aspx?pid=259

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  22. I have an entire garden that is named the Garden of Benign Neglect~This year it was almost completely ignored, except for watering the newly planted native azaleas. It needs some tweaking to make sure the Practically Perfect Phlox Pilosa isn't mowed over by Goldenrod.

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    1. Ah, yes. I do remember that from visits to your blog. I love it! Actually, my garden transitions from totally wild in the woods, to more cultivated near the house. It's fun to mix it up. Sometimes the neglected parts perform better than the parts I fawn over.

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  23. I am so guilty of neglecting parts of my garden, its a relief to hear I'm not the only one :). Except, your "neglected" part looks SO much nicer than mine!

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    1. I don't know, Christine. Your garden always looks perfect to me--in cyberspace anyway. Especially this time of year when you are enjoying a beautiful spring/summer!

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