Garden Diary - November 2018

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Spider Chrysanthemums at the New York Botanical Garden

Thursday, 8 November 2018

The New York Botanical Garden's chrysanthemum exhibition is a wonderful event. Meticulously trained in the Japanese style, the kiku showcase the dedicated work of the NYBG staff. For 11 months of each year, NYBG horticulturists use traditional Japanese techniques to nurture and train these chrysanthemums into both modern and ancient styles. On view in the Nolen Greenhouses' Bourke Sullivan Display House, they including the tumbling flowers of kengai cascade and monumental ozukuri thousand bloom form. But that's not all.

There are chrysanthemums bred and selected primarily for cut-flower use,
like these airy, spectacular, attention-grabbing spider chrysanthemums

such as this elegant yellow-orange 'Kishi no Nishi'

Spider chrysanthemums have long tubular ray florets which may coil or hook at the ends. The florets may be very fine to coarse. Their flowers are six inches or more across. For the full traditional effect, these chrysanthemums should be disbudded. This involves pruning out all but a few stems, and removing most or all of their side shoots. Only one to several flower buds are left to develop at the tip of each stem, resulting in exceptionally large blooms.

The flowers are so large that they need extra support to hold them up.


Staging is critical to display the flowers without tangling them up.

They remind me of some languidly floating sea creatures.

As beautiful as they are in multiples

as individual flowers they invite even closer attention.

Colors include the traditional warm hues of autumn, like this 'Coral Reef'

to the ethereal shell pink and pale yellow of 'Winsome'.

No time to prink and fuss and do it yourself? Let the NYBG staff do the work, and then you only need to come and admire the results. You still have time to come visit and see chrysanthemums, the flower of November. Kiku: The Spotlight on Tradition continues through Sunday, November 18, 2018. The Bourke Sullivan Display House is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

The Bourke Sullivan Display House of the Nolen Greenhouses is located near the Lorillard Snuff Mill (now known as the Lillian and Amy Goldman Stone Mill) and the Benenson Ornamental Conifer collection of dwarf and specialty conifers. There is a convenient nearby tram stop, an amenity available with the purchase of an All-Garden day pass.

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