Thursday, November 13, 2008

The weather is still warm enough to transport Chrysanthemums in open vehicle

How about those mums!? Temperatures still not dipping below the low 30s F and we have had almost an inch of rain over the past few days. That's a good thing! Fall perennials, camellias, and lingering annuals are hanging in there to good effect.

These are large flowered "disbud chrysanthemums" and while they are often grown in elaborate frames and trained to a single stem to produce outrageously large flowers, they can be grown in the open garden and with a bit of disbudding will produce plants similar to those in the truck. The earlier maturing varieties are less likely to fall victim to a premature hard frost, but we didn't use any supplemental heat to produce these plants. There are a number of sources for these plants but King's Mums in Clements California is a good place to start. Anyway it's a fun site to look at with beautiful photos of the astounding varieties and instructions for their culture.

When I was in my late teens I grew disbuds; built the frames and the 4' stakes, disbudded to a single stem, covered the frames with plastic when temperatures fell into the 20s F. It was fun but was too unnatural a technique for my own style. We grow them a bit more freely, allowing at least 2 stems and often 4 or 5. This makes the plants shorter, more natural looking, and earier to maintain. The blooms are obviously still huge; they don't need to be twice this size! The gradual warming associated with Global Climate Change (sic) has made it likely that these mums can complete their flowering cycles without needing protection from the cold. That has been the case for us the past two years. There is staking involved and the disbudding demands a bit of time, so I guess it's not for everyone, but they are beautiful plants.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

There are some exciting chrysanthemums on display in the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum at the National Arboretum

US National Arboretum...Fall foliage on Mt. Hamilton

At first I thought it was my imagination or that I was projecting, but no, the smiles on the faces of the "Walkers" were a little bit brighter after the election. The "Walkers" are an important part of the community of the Arboretum. This is a great place to walk and many people take advantage of it. Most of our walkers are local so the vast majority are African-Americans. Some walk every day, some a few times a week, and many less frequently. After working here a while you begin to recognize individuals and their schedules. Good weather, of course, brings out larger numbers, but even on the worst cold. wet, windy days there are a few intrepid souls. We nod, or smile, or wave, or sometimes stop and talk. It is one of the bonuses of working here.

I wasn't in on Wednesday but Thursday I began to notice that smiles were wider and more engaging. At first I took it to be a reflection of the seasonably warm weather and the peaking fall foliage, but then I wondered. I am a large rough-looking? man and doubt that my political persuasion is readable from my physiognomy. I don't want to write about race but if I were an African-American I might wonder how white people really felt about the election. The amount of information that can be communicated quickly by facial expressions is amazing. Conspiratorial is not really the word I'm looking for, but they smiled, I smiled back and something was communicated and we were all a bit happier. I'm sure all the problems of the country won't go away, but it has been a nice few days!