A Garden Worthy Perennial Chrysanthemum

Many gardeners see little utility in the ubiquitous chrysanthemums that clutter nurseries  this time of the year. At gardeninacity blog, filled with posts that exude wit, wisdom and a keen sense of what makes a great garden plant, Jason made the point succinctly:

mum“It is my contention that Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) are underused, and Chrysanthemums overused, as fall annuals. Pansies like cool weather and tolerate light frosts. In my experience their blooms last longer than those of Chrysanthemums.

Chrysanthemums are not really annuals, but that is how they are used by the million: purchased as a dense floral mound in a pot, then thrown away. I’ve never really liked Chrysanthemums, but I bought a few this year anyway. I wish now that I hadn’t.”

I have to agree (mostly) with Jason. The few mums I have in pots winter over in the greenhouse and I group them for best effect in the fall months. But, while in Salt Lake City Utah recently for a family matter, I found time to visit the Red Butte Garden adjacent to the campus of the University of Utah, and stumbled on this prolific, arching and fragrant chrysanthemum thriving in the landscape.

mum2A closer look revealed the arching spreading habit topped with perfect daisy blooms.

mum3mum5It took me awhile to identify the plant, initially wondering if it was actually an aster of some type. I was in the fragrant garden section of the arboretum, when I finally found a smaller specimen and the identifying plant label.

Bending over, the chrysanthemum leaves gave off their unmistakable odor.

Here’s another closeup from the “What’s Blooming Now” section of the Red Butte Garden website.

Plant Facts for Chrysanthemum ‘Ryan’s Pink’

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5 – 9
  • Hardy, arching and relaxed or drooping stems
  • Disease resistant; tough plant resistant to common pests.
  • Recently reassigned to the genus Dendranthema as Dendranthema x ‘Ryan’s Pink’
Goodness Grows Nursery in Lexington, Georgia introduced ‘Ryan’s Pink’ into the trade. The single-petaled flowers have dusty lavender-pink petals and a bright yellow center. Rick Berry, one of the nursery’s owners, procured his start from Decatur, Georgia garden designer Ryan Gainey.

Alaska Trip

I didn’t intend to write about the plants I encountered on our recent trip to Alaska, since this trip was primarily to see and visit with one of our indexing clients and to hike and kayak.

Nevertheless I stumbled on the Pratt Museum in Homer, which had a sweet native plant garden

I was pleased to see this native geranium still blooming in mid September, and snapped this shot.  More proof that natives can be just as stunning, nuanced and lovely as any “new” hybrid or cultivar peddled in the garden trade.


Wild Alaskan Geranium (Geranium erianthum)

That said, here’s a post on some of those hardy geranium cultivars I grow. Compare it to Geranium erianthum!

Resurrection Bay Seward, AK

Resurrection Bay Seward, AK

Spencer Glacier Chugach National Forest

Spencer Glacier Chugach National Forest

Crested Gentian from the Caucasus Mountains

Blue is the color between violet and green on the optical spectrum of visible light. I love having blue plants in the garden, probably because of my tendency to red-green color blindness. To my eye, and unlike some reddish hues surrounded by green (especially at a distance), blue stands out.

Gentiana septemfida v. lagodechiana 'Select'

Gentiana septemfida var. lagodechiana ‘Select’

Most of the flowers in the genus Gentiana are blue. This large genus (around 400 species) is known especially for its blue, trumpet shaped flowers.

My plant was purchased from Edelweiss Perennials, a small family run mail-order nursery located in the heart of the Willamette Valley, in Canby, Oregon.  This alpine gentian is a great little plant for the rock garden or front of a border. It’s easy to grow, thrives in all kinds of soil and (unlike many alpines) doesn’t seem to mind our wet rainy winters here in the lowlands of the Pacific Northwest.

I planted it in front of Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Sike’s Dwarf’,which is known for foliage and blooms that extend all the way to the ground.

gentian-hydrangeaThe following plant description is courtesy of Hill Farm Nursery located north of McLeese Lake in British Columbia, Canada.

  • Gentiana septemfida var. lagodechiana ‘Select’. CRESTED GENTIAN, SUMMER GENTIAN. Perennial. Zone 3. Caucasus Mountains, alpine regions of Iran, Iraq, Turkey. This selected variety is originally from the Lagodekhi region of the Republic of Georgia (former U.S.S.R.). A beautiful and encouragingly easy alpine, which is also known as the “everyman’s gentian” because of its wide tolerance to various growing conditions. Low growing, slightly sprawling clumps of 6-inch stems are starred in summer by many clusters of rich blue flowers with white and purple highlights. Close examination reveals a cluster of intricate hairs and speckles within the trumpet throats of each small bloom. Prefers a bit of shade in hot summer regions, average soil and moisture.