My favorite flower is the mum. I’m drawn to it for many reasons. It’s the flower of my favorite time of year-fall. When the rest of the outside world is dying off for the season, mums are thriving–colorful, bright, and a vibrant reminder of life in the vastly changing landscape of autumn. Memories of high school homecomings are colored with mums–the preferred corsage. I still have some pieces of one of my high school corsages…really all that’s left are the black pipe cleaner letters of my alma mater, but I saved them nonetheless. Maybe I’m drawn to the variety of colors-though I always pick the same ones for my flower bed-the signature yellow, deep maroon, white, and the 2 toned gold and rust.
I don’t really have a green thumb for flowers, and working in the flowerbed to get things just right isn’t a big focus for me-except when it comes to planting mums. We recently transplanted and replanted our mums because some of them didn’t make it through our harsh winter last year. At our previous house, our front flowerbed was full of huge mums. They had been there for years-I remember planting them we when moved in- and every year saw them bigger and more beautiful. I would top the hill on our street when I was heading home and spot them. And every time, I felt a lift in my spirits, a smile, an unspoken, beautiful “welcome home.” They are a visual gift. It’s said that the mum symbolizes optimism and joy, and looking at a flowerbed full of mums or seeing them lined up in rows outside a garden center is a joyful sight to me.
Mums are a perfect addition to your flower bed-they’re hardy, they don’t need a particular type of soil, you can revive them, and you can split them. And if you plant this perennial in the spring, chances are you’ll see it next season–that alone is the answer for someone who appreciates low maintenance flowerbeds. Well, and the colors…you just can beat them.
As I was writing this over the weekend, I learned some things about mums that I never knew. The chrysanthemum is a very important symbol in Japan–appearing on government medals, passports, and most importantly on the Imperial Seal of Japan. Many people drink chrysanthemum tea. I found the dried flowers at a tea store in my neighborhood and they brew up a slightly sweet, light tea. But perhaps one important fact about mums that best explains my affinity for them–it’s the flower of my birth month, November. It all makes sense to me now.
“If you would be happy for a lifetime, grow Chrysanthemums.” (a Chinese philosopher) from a good resource online for all things mums: National Chrysanthemum Society, USA