Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Chrysanthemum Conflict

Yes, I know that TECHNICALLY, it's fall. But when you're working on the roof, in the sun...it feels like summer. I don't care if the calendar says October; I'm working up a sweat.

Most people love Indian Summer but not me; I'm tormented by my Annual Chrysanthemum Conflict. Mums are the quintessential fall flower. Clients clamor for yellow and orange mums, purple asters, and ornamental peppers. I'd understand if we were in northern New England, but in NYC we often don't get a frost till Thanksgiving, which means our summer annuals could look good for at least another month.

Don't get me wrong. I think the fall color combos are terrific, but somehow it seems wrong (ethically, morally, horticulturally) to pull the annuals out of the ground when they still look so good. And let's face it, mums bloom for 3-4 weeks...tops. If temperatures are warm the flowers can finish in 2 weeks, meaning they'll be done blooming long before the annuals would have given up the ghost. Oh the (lack of) humanity.

What would you do? Rip out those hard-working, long-blooming annuals that never did anyone any harm? Or let them stay a little longer, pushing back the arrival of fall as far as horticulturally possible?

That's what I did last year. Big mistake. By the time I got around to pulling the annuals there were no more mums to be had. That's right. All gone. No more mums on the market. My clients were mum-less. Sans mums. All because I had a soft heart and wanted to eke a few more weeks out of the Angelonia and Lantana.

This year I will not be seduced by 70 degree temperatures and sunny afternoons. I don't care if the heliotrope is happy and the Diascia looks dandy. Take one last look because they all have to go! After all...it's October.


Anonymous said...

I've experienced the same conflict and the annuals have thus far won out. Having, in particular, blooming lobelia through September makes me prouder and happier than any mum ever could ;-)

Thanks for the engaging post and for all the lovely photos. They are spectacular when enlarged!

I love forward to receiving notifications of upcoming entries. Happy writing and joyful gardening!

Ellen Zachos said...

Congratulations on the lobelia, Marian, that is indeed an accomplishment! What's your secret?

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