The Pushiness of Chrysanthemums

– Posted in: Miscellaneous

I tend to be a bit peevish about certain plants in the garden. But I’ve got to tell you that the sight of chrysanthemums dotting the front yards of a lot of homes in my area to be distasteful: a bit like eating too many lollipops or cotton candy at an amusement park and ending up with a bad stomachache.

fs-906-asterdahlia-heliopsis-nasturtium-resized.JPG First, the way that most suburban folk use them is hardly artistic: at least 3 or 4 colors mixed in with each other in front borders, around mail boxes or any other place they can plant them. The jewel tones of rust, yellow and purple thrown together disorient my eyes.banana-plant-light-in-the-garden-resized.jpg

Secondly, I really think that chrysanthemums are pushy flowers, not needed at all for fall color. I love fall asters and Japanese anemones: their lavender, rich purple, soft pink or white colors complementing or contrasting with the reds, yellows, pinks and oranges of summer and fall bulbs and annuals or with the florescence of ornamental grasses.persicaria-resized.jpg
I think of fall as a season when all of nature transforms itself into a whirl of color, textures and shapes: the garden’s last hurrah before it goes to sleep for the winter. Imposing sharp colors onto the fall landscape feels a bit cruel!

Anyone out there agree or disagree with me? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

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Fran Sorin
4 Comments… add one

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David in VT September 27, 2007, 8:08 pm

Gardeners tend to disdain certain plants, and fall mums certainly take the brunt of the bashing. In some ways, they deserve it. As you say, they’re pretty bossy.

But, I work as a landscaper, and my customers truly enjoy the mums. The subtle colors of ornamental grasses or seedheads are lost on these folks. They want one more burst of color before winter sets in. Yes, it’s kind of a drag to plant mums every year, but you can get people to try new things. This fall, I’ve convinced some customers to try asters and some of the pansies that are bred to bloom best in fall. By pinching the dendranthemums, you can get them to shine in the fall, too.

My feeling is this: When people put plants in the ground and care for them, we should celebrate the effort — and try not to judge it.

Now … I’m going out to admire my asters and the solidago.

fsorin September 28, 2007, 9:29 am


Thanks for your opinion. I don’t make it a habit of judging anyone who actually puts their own hands in the dirt and plants whatever their heart desires. After all, I am a big proponent of the process of gardening and not the results.

BUT I would actually feel negligent
if I didn’t comment on those folks who have hired landscapers to come in and give their
properties what they perceive as temporary
curb appeal. Often, these are the same folks who hire Chemlawn to come in and spray their lawn so that it is green and weedless throughout the summer. Remember, I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia: not some rural, pastoral area of the country.

But I do understand your dilemma…and how you are trying to nudge your clients toward trying new specimens. Keep up the good work!

Ki October 23, 2007, 9:56 pm

I agree. Some of the en masse plantings of mums are quite garish especially when most homes around where we live hardly have any other plantings to attenuate the bright blobs of color. Funny they would think to do that when they hardly plant any other flowers. It must be that the whole plant is covered with blossoms and you don’t have to wait for it to bloom…instant flowers and easy clean up makes for a good plant?

judy robertson February 12, 2008, 2:26 pm

The plants in the photos of “Plants I hate” are not mums but Dahlias.They come in bright colors but also muted tones.Judy

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