While every gas filling station, local roadside table selling fresh produce, nationwide chain home improvement store, upscale nursery and the grocery all sell pots of groomed, fertilized riotous color containers of incredible Chrysanthemums, (name changes by taxonomists with too much free time on their hands have been ignored), only a very few of those will live on to see the next year. But in the genetic makeup of those color tarts lies the hardy DNA of the Asian strains. Most garden mums are hybrids that originated from species native to Russia, China, or Japan. Early hybridization of these plants occurred in China as far back as 500 A.D. Fast forward to more recent history but planted long ago in home gardens, these survivors have been passed along to friends and neighbors, often named for a relative or the generous gardener doing the sharing. Ryan’s Pink, so named for Ryan Gainey of Goodness Grows Nursery is a fine example of these foundlings.
In our neck of the woods in southeast Tennessee there is this tall drink of water that we call Yellow Button. Our favorite nursery in the whole world, Mouse Creek sells this as Ann’s Yellow, named for the woman who passed it along to the owner, Ruth Baumgardner.
One variety does seem to have a real name with legs, Sheffield Pink, aka Hillside Sheffield Pink, among others. Interested parties can read our first post about them by clicking here-The Sheffies. We have shortened the name to Sheffies for the sake of brevity and ease of typing. This mum was our first toe dip into the realm of truly hardy mums. It needs no coddling to survive even the coldest winters in many parts of the US. It roots wherever one of the lax stems touches the ground, making mass plantings and passalongs easy peasy. It is offered to all visitors to the Fairegarden to spread the wealth. The Sheffies buds are a deep rusty apricot color, opening to a lighter shade and then fading over time, a long time for flowers, to the palest of pinks. Some garden gurus recommend pinching or cutting the stems back in May or June to produce a more compact plant. It is on my to do list but never gets done. Maybe next year. Also seen in the above shot is the Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ and a wild white aster.
An offspring from the beloved Sheffies was first discovered downslope a ways from the original planting. We watched the same dark salmon buds open to reveal yellow rounded petals rather than the more pointed Sheffies. The one plant has now been divided and spread about the hillside, gee, maybe it could be called Hillside Yellow Sheffie, but no, we are going with Yellow Sheffie. It too fades to the whiter shade of pale, with yellow tints.
For more impact in the view from the addition while sitting in the lazyboy, the place where all blog posts spring from brain bubbles to words typed on the laptop, the Yellow Buttons, Yellow Sheffies and straight up Sheffies have been combined under the tall waves of Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ grass. Hamamelis ‘Diane’ is wearing her going out cloak to help celebrate the fiery foliage season in the background.
On the daylily hill a new group of mums was planted last year to help extend the interest after the daylilies are done. This spot has been a real head scratcher to find plants that can compete with those large clumps of Hemerocallis. Mums have risen to the challenge. Joining Yellow Button, Ryan’s Pink and Sheffie there are three more hardy souls. The name tags of the newcomers from Mouse Creek read Soft Yellow, White Daisy and this one is my favorite, Pink Grandchild, which is a multi petaled lavender. Pink Grandchild is being covered up on the far left by White Daisy in this shot. (Added: Grandchild is the name of an actual cultivar bred in the 1980s). The smaller one might need to be moved to a safer, less crowded location. These were all given to Ruth from local gardeners in whose yards they have prospered with aplomb. They are tall and floppy, they could have been given the pinch treatment earlier, but we are lazy and find their easy going nature attractive as is. The butterflies and pollinators agree. The fragrance is unique, adding to the whole smell of fall that permeates the November air.
Sleeping Maiden with the leaf imprint on her cheek and her planting of Plectranthus is happy to have such pleasing companions as the falling maple leaves litter the magic carpet before hard frosts arrive. So are we. (The red leaves to the left are Coleus ‘Henna’.)