Will There Be Space for Mammothâ„¢ Chrysanthemums?
March 20, 2011
Allan in Clara Curtis, Perennial Plants, autumn gardens, chrysanthemum, flowers, mammoth, perennials

DARK PINK http://www.monrovia.com/plant-catalog/plants/1017/mammoth-dark-pink-daisy-garden-mum.php, photo credit Doreen Wynja.Up until now, the only chrysanthemum -like flower that has sustained itself in my garden has been the cultivar Clara Curtis. I suppose the explanation for its success lays in the fact that it is not really a chrysanthemum but a member of the daisy family which can survive quite well in my growing zone of USDA 4b [CNDN 5b]. Its pink coloration in fall is quite welcome, but its tendency to kneel towards the sun makes the garden messy. Furthermore, its spreading nature does not work well in an urban setting. Over the years, I have planted, removed and then replanted this perennial not only because my garden needs autumn color but also because traditional mums have not overwintered successfully in my growing zone. In spite of the fact that Clara’s bad behavior has turned me off to growing this family of plants, I have never given up hope; every spring I am tempted to experiment with more cultivars. Up until recently, the fear of a messy garden and death-by-winter has been a dissuading factor. Now a new, true member of the chrysanthemum family has hit the market. It is supposed to survive in my climate and the feature of a mound-like shape should address my desire for neatness. It is time to reconsider.

DARK PINK http://www.monrovia.com/plant-catalog/plants/1017/mammoth-dark-pink-daisy-garden-mum.php, photo credit Doreen Wynja.When I opened up the supplier’s latest catalogue, Chrysanthemum mammoth™ popped right off the page. The hype about this prolific flowerer urges me to consider at least two out of its three varieties. Yet, I have mixed feelings about these plants. On one hand, they satisfy my need for color in the autumn garden, and on the other hand, they spread between 3 to 6 feet wide. That's a lot for an urban garden. Also, there is some technical discrepancy among growers, nurseries and gardeners as to which of the three varieties will spread the most. Such contradictions sometimes occur when a plant is relatively new, not widely tested, and few mature plants exist. If I decide to buy, my choice will have to be based on factors other than the extent of the spread.

LAVENDER http://www.growingcolors.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=plants.plant Detail&plant_id=2068&typeID=What a dilemma! There is no place in the test garden for perennials that are expansive but how can I not experiment with at least one, when the hype about them is so attractive? The catalog suggests that, at full bloom, this plant will perform very much like the spectacular potted mums that we buy in autumn. In fall, the foliage, which grows in a spreading mound, is completely covered by large flowers, making the leaves almost invisible. Furthermore, all of the mammoth™ varieties are supposed to be hardy to USDA Zone 3, with good frost resistance. If they survive for many years in my climate, it will significantly change the autumn gardening experience for all of us who endure harsh winters.

CORAL http://www.ballhort.com/Growers/plant_info.aspx? phid=043105117001278While the coral and lavender varieties require dead heading, the dark pink one does not. Also, it is the one variety that requires no pinching or pruning. In this contest for a plum spot in my test garden, it appears that dark pink will win. Even though it may turn out to be the largest spreader, it is the only one of the three that is truly maintenance free. Now, I must determine which plants I will remove in order to make room for such a voluminous perennial.

Article originally appeared on Garden Design, Montreal, Perennial Flower Gardens, Gardening Tips, Gardening Advice, Gardening Book Reviews (http://allanbecker-gardenguru.squarespace.com/).
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