What Looks Good Now-Mums


The Red Admiral butterfly agrees that the late fall flowers of the various mums in the Fairegarden are what looks good now.


The bee agrees.


The beetle stops chewing fragrant petals just long enough to chime in with a “Me too!”


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’.)

Frances

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31 Responses to What Looks Good Now-Mums

  1. Randy says:

    Frances,

    Those Sheffield Pinks are my favorites. I have a friend who has some like them that are white very pretty huge clump she has. KUDOs on the Red Admiral photo!

    Hi Randy, just the person I was hoping to see to verify my ID on the butterfly! I finally got one right! HA I chased him around doggedly, nearly falling down the hillside, but he finally wore himself out and had to rest so he could be photographed. I got several shots and was quite close to him, for a change! Those old daisy type mums are great for late season excitement. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  2. Mums, like asters, are plants I have always thought I hated, but then again I used to think that about Dahlias. Your Anne’s Yellow and Sheffies confirm that I need to address this prejudice… Love the lazyboy planting!

    Hi Janet, thanks. I felt the same for some time, but have now seen the light. It was the Sheffies that cured me. Planting for the view from inside the house makes such good sense and has tremendous payback in winter. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    The mums sure give your garden a welcome shot of color this time of year. What luck to have one hybridize on your hillside. Thozze beez sure do their part. Have a great weekend.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. You are funny! zzzz This has been a good mum year for us, after years of dividing and spreading them, the show actually is meeting the vision. You too have a wonderful weekend. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  4. Layanee says:

    My Sheffies are looking bedraggled in the rain and I have made a note to add that glorious ‘aster’ to their neighborhood. My sleeping maiden needs to come inside. She has a head of oxalis.

    Hi Layanee, thanks for stopping by. The rain does bow the mums, but they really weren’t standing straight up anyway. The pollinators don’t seem to mind, the flowers are more bunched together that way, making them easy shopping for the insects. October Skies has been the best, it should be growing in every garden, as should the Sheffies. Sweet dreams to your sleeping maiden for the winter. Ours is outside all year. Don’t know what will end up behind her ear for winter after the plectranthus is frosted.
    Frances

  5. gail says:

    My goodness Frances, they are all gorgeous! I thank you for introducing me to the Sheffies, they are the loveliest flowers in almost any aspect at C&L. Sun or partial sun. Since then I’ve added Ryans’ Yellow and a neighbor shared a pale pink that seems to have disappeared. (must get more) Is it possible you shared a bit of Button Yellow with me? I have a mum that looks just like the tall drink of water~Could it be the “Ruth Baumgartner” mum I moved earlier this fall? Are you getting the Big Freeze tonight, too? xxoogail

    Hi Gail, thanks. The mums are looking good this year, after so much dividing and spreading. Yellow Button, aka Ruth B. at the UT display gardens, most likely was shared with you. I push it off on everyone who visits. Yes, big freeze in the forecast. This might be the ONE that kills stuff still standing, like the Dahlias. I might have to cover them.
    Frances

  6. Heather says:

    Your pictures look amazing and your garden blooms are beautiful – lovely post!

    Hi Heather, thanks so much. The garden has lots of offer in all seasons here, after ten years of working on that very goal. It seems to be coming together this fall. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  7. Les says:

    I had the orginal Sheffie once, but it took up too much real estate, and I found that the color was not my fav, so it was gifted to another gardener. This fall I put in ‘Bolero’ which is more yellow and more agreeable to me. I’ll let you know if it behaves.

    Hi Les, thanks for adding to the conversation. One must plant what appeals to their tastes, of course! I hope Bolero makes you happy. Yellow flowers right now look so good with the fall foliage and fading grasses. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  8. Sylvia (England) says:

    Frances, I am still considering my own version of Daylily hill. I just need to dig up a couple of shrubs that are not doing well and investigate why. Dig up some more grass and plant some shrubs, then the day lilies (if they survive the neglect they have had all summer in pots!). Chrysanths are becoming more common here, I lost the very old ones I had years ago, but I have bought several un-named ones. I have a lovely rust coloured one in a pot, which would look lovely on my mini-daylily hill.

    Thank you for all your inspiration. Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    Hi Sylvia, thanks. I wish you well with your daylily hill/UK style. The shrubs we like with the daylilies, that are kept low with pruning are magic carpet spiraeas. I didn’t want anything that would get too large. Daffodils are also in there, and some tall phlox and ferns. And some lilies. And…well you get the idea! Mums are a good mixer for some fall interest too. Good luck with yours! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  9. Frances the Sheffie Mums were pau here two weeks ago after a glorious display. The new Yellie Mums never even wilted and kept their blooms fine after being set in the ground. This morning they are covered in an inch at least of snow.

    Hi Christopher, thanks for that report! An inch of snow, oh my goodness! Glad to year the Yellies made the transition from Tennessee to North Carolina without faltering. They begin a little later than the Sheffies do here. Even when they are past prime, they look cheerful from afar, like the lazyboy. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  10. Frances, it does all look so bright with the mums. I may need to buy Miss Ann. She is pretty, and I like those taller ones. I have the Sheffies this year, and I love them. They are a pleasure.~~Dee

    Hi Dee, thanks. It makes a huge difference to have fresh flowers in the garden now, even when it is raining leaves. They certainly are cheering. Glad you have the Sheffies, it seems they are well represented across the US. Yellow button may be harder to find, but yellows are plentiful. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  11. Rose says:

    The Sheffies have been on my plant wish list for at least a year now, thanks to you, Frances. I still succumb every fall to the enticement of those “perfect” mums sold everywhere, but they rarely make it through the winter. Time for me to look more seriously for these hardy lovelies!

    Hi Rose, thanks for the vote of confidence in the Sheffies. I have found that even if those fancy mums return, they never ever look like the turbo charges balls of color when they wer purchased. Stick with the Sheffies and you can’t go wrong! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  12. I hope you squished that cucumber beetle right after you took that shot. I’m sick of the little creeps.
    ‘Ryan’s Pink’ looks like my kind of mum. And you’ll be happy to know, the Dendranthemum change was short lived and they are now, again called Chrysanthemum.

    Hi MMD, thanks for adding to our pool of knowledge. I am so glad the name was changed back. Now there is hope for Sedum, Asters, Coleus… The Ryan’s Pink has sort of white inner petals turning to lavender on the ends, a pretty one. The cuke beetles have been busy on several of these late flowers. Creeps is right! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  13. Eileen says:

    Great photos Frances, especially with the insects. I wish I had more room for the hardy mums. I had some at my last house and you are right, they look so natural in the landscape rather than the mounds.

    Eileen

    Hi Eileen, thanks. I was persistant to get that Red Admiral, it was the only one seen here this year. There was an American Painted Lady that just would not sit still, as well. While I can admire those colorful pom poms for Autumn displays, I like garden hardy plants for the landscape.
    Frances

  14. I looked for mum’s this fall marked perennial, and couldn’t find any. Do I have to order them online to get them? All the nurseries around me had regular annual mums. Would I have better luck trying to find them in the spring. Can’t remember seeing any even at that time.

    Hi Valerie, I would try calling around to local nurseries, smaller operations, not Lowe’s or something like that. One mail order place that has one of the ones I have shown is Sunlight Gardens, located north of Knoxville, TN. Ryan’s Pink. I have ordered from this place and can vouch for them. Good luck in your search.
    Frances

  15. Kathy says:

    I have one fully double pinky lavender that comes back reliably every year. I don’t know its name as it was a passalong. Some years it blooms with the colchicums (and matches them in color) but this year it was much later.

    Hi Kathy, thanks for adding to the conversation. Your mum sounds like the one labeled Pink Grandchild here, it was that color and double. Hooray! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  16. I really don’t like the look of what I call “grocery store mums” especially when they are displayed in mixtures of every color in the rainbow. What a misnomer–“hardy mums”. I am so glad that you have highlighted fall daisy-like flowers that have some refinement, beautiful colors, and come back every year.

    Hi Carolyn, thanks for joining in. They must sell a lot of those grocery mums because every year it seems like there are more of them. They look pretty on a display with pumpkins and such, but for garden plants, the daisy like truly hardy mums work much better. Glad you agree. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  17. Lola says:

    Love those mums. I purchased a Pink mum the other day. I hope it’s a Sheffie. There was no other info. Oh, Glory be Ms Frances, I finally got me a start of the Pink Muhly. They had it at the big box store so I just had to have me one. There are several plants in the pot so I have more than one.
    As always I truly adored touring your mums.

    Hi Lola, thanks. I am so glad you got a pink muhly. Mine also originally came from the big box store. Good luck with them! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  18. Garden Sense says:

    I love the combination of the Sheffield Pink’s with Asters – beautiful. I admit to buying a couple of mums for my front stoop and then tucking them into the garden at the end of the season. I’ve had pretty good luck with them here in zone 6. But I like the look of those Sheffies.

    Hi Gardensenses, thanks for adding to this. Sometimes those ball shaped mums do return, we have had that happen too, but they never thrive like the Sheffies and friends. I am glad you have had success. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  19. These are no ordinary fall mums. Beautiful photographs. Lots of garden color. That is really an exquisite shot of the bee. And the butterfly, too.

    Hi Donna, thanks so much. The bees are super busy right now, covering the mum flowers. That butterfly was the first of its kind seen here, so late too. I was dogged in the pursuit of a decent shot of it. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  20. Annelisa says:

    Love that last picture!

    Hi Annelisa, thanks and welcome. Glad you enjoyed your visit here. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  21. One says:

    Hi, Frances. I am here to admire your photos and garden. They never fail to impress me. I noticed you have my blog listed on the right hand side. Thank you very much. I shall do the same for your blog. However, there are some errors. I wonder who Nadelle is. ??? It should be ‘Onenezz’ (ONE) Thanks again.

    Hi One, thank you. I have fixed your link on my sidebar. As to the names that were there before, it is hard to say where that came from. Usually it is the name on comment, but might have come from somewhere on your blog as well. Please forgive my mistake. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  22. Sweetbay says:

    Really beautiful insect shots. Except for Yellow Button, which is such a cheery bright yellow, your mums are such soft romantic colors. I just have ‘Venus’ but your post shows me that I clearly need more!

    Hi Sweetbay, thanks. The colors of these mums look very good with the flaming fall foliage around them. I like yellow button with the straw colored grasses, they seem to weave together nicely. Venus sounds like a lovely one, but as with all garden plants, more are needed! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  23. carolyn says:

    Hey Frances,

    Capital G for Gorgeous! I’m sure I flew over your beautiful garden on my recent visit to North Carolina.

    Love the Sheffies. I’ve found some hardy novelty mums that are spoon tipped -matchstick is red with a yellow throat and golden star is a soft yellow. They can be ordered retail at http://fairbaultgrowers.inc/novelties/php

    Hi Carolyn, thanks, so nice to see you here. Glad you had a good trip to North Carolina and thanks for waving as you flew over! Thanks for the tip about the fancy hardy mums. I will check them out. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  24. fer says:

    Beautiful photos! your mums look great

    Hi Fer, thanks and welcome. Glad you enjoyed the mums.
    Frances

  25. Linda says:

    Love the pictures, what a beautiful variety of mums. Somewhere years ago I found and planted two mums that are hardy here in zone 5. One is a rust/red color and one yellow, they reliably return every year, and have grown enough that I have started taking pieces off and passing them on to friends, who are always amazed at a traditional looking mum that is perennial here. They take to transplating extremely well and are the happiest plants and add a nice bit of Fall color to the garden and are still blooming now. Wish I had the tags or even remembered where I got them to see what kind they are, guess I need to do a little research. Thanks for the ideas on some new ones for the garden, your pictures are lovely.

    Hi Linda, thanks so much. That is good to hear that you have some hardy mums. When we lived in northeast PA, there were two mums, a purple and a yellow that bloomed reliably each year. The previous owner said they were potted plants from the grocery that they stuck in the ground. I would suggest you make up your own names for yours. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  26. James A-S says:

    You lot over there are much more obsessed with Chrysanthemums than we are: don’t know why as they are some fine varieties. I think they have suffered a bit from being known as weird things with flowers the size of adolescent wallabies and the finer flowered varieties have been ignored.

    I interviewed a Chrysanthemum grower once: very strange fellow whose hair was very greasy and whose trousers were very short. Maybe that coloured my judgement a little!

    However, I wish they were not known as ‘Mums” it sounds unbearably twee and undignified!

    Hi James, thanks, so nice to see you here. You are funny as ever! Twee indeed. Our lot across the pond have gone mad with forcing mums into unnatural shapes with unearthly amounts of flowers all over, pinched and prodded with chemicals and lights into balls of fire and sold on every street corner. These mums, sorry, it is too easy to call them mums and our mothers are referred to as moms, are what most people think mums grow and look like, then are disappointed that they do not return in their gardens and if they do, they are a far cry from those artificial looking blobs.
    Frances

  27. Patsi says:

    Nice selection. Now I want more garden space…thanks πŸ™‚

    Hi Patsi, thanks. Most of the year, these mums do not take up much space, and when they are tall, floppy and blooming, what is covered up doesn’t really mind too much. They will be trimmed back soon enough. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  28. Robin Ripley says:

    Everything still looks beautiful, Frances. Gorgeous, in fact. I am in full clean-up mode.

    Hi Robin, thanks. We really don’t do a full clean up here, but some things will be cut soon and some, like the grasses will be cut in late winter. I am lazy that way. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  29. So lovely…flowers are truly breathtaking..How you have arranged your Garden foliage is inspiring!

    Hi Orchid Plants, thanks so much. Some years the garden seems to really gel in the fall and at other times. Maturity and constant rearranging help with that. Of course it is never finished. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  30. Jake says:

    I amazingly had Hosta’s still blooming up until this morning when we hit 23f. Other than that we have Pansies, Viloa’s and of course Mums. Your garden still looks fulls compared to mine.

    Jake

    Hi Jake, thanks. The violas and pansies will carry us through until spring, although they will get rather ratty looking, they will make a tremendous comeback since the roots will continue growing over the winter. To have a full garden, you need evergreens, shrubs and perennials, for winter interest, or attractive dead stuff like grasses. Keep planting! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  31. Frances, is there something wrong with your feed? In my blogger friends list, it shows up with a post from two years ago, rather than your current one, which drops you down to the bottom of the list. I tried unfollowing and relinking you, but the same thing happened. Just so you know, in case there’s something you can do at your end.

    Hi Jodi,

    Thanks for letting me know about this. I deleted the blogger fairegarden today, after changing all the links in old posts to the same post on wordpress. Very tedious stuff. I had heard that the revisions were showing up on the feed readers. Just delete them, or mark them as read or whatever. When the new post goes up tomorrow morning it should be back to normal.
    Frances

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