Chrysanthemums all around.

picture of specialty chrysanthemums
Specialty Chrysanthemums

The Chrysanthemum bloom is symbolic to Autumn and is frequently referred to as the flower of the 9th moon, she is native to China and Eastern Europe and has a rich history dating back to the 15 century BC.
“Kiku” Japanese for Chrysanthemum is the national flower of Japan, references of this flower goes back to the 8th century AD. The flower plays a significant role in Japan’s culture and one realizes this when Japan’s National Chrysanthemum Day is also called the Festival of Happiness. Besides, a single blooming Chrysanthemum has been adopted by Japan as the crest and official seal of the Emperor.  picture of pinkchrysanthemum

According to the world of Chinese The Chrysanthemum(菊花) signifies intellectual accomplishments, cleansing qualities, and longevity of life. Buddhists use this flower as offerings on altars because they symbolizes powerful Yang energy.

The flower attracts good luck in the home and is often given to old people  since Chrysanthemums symbolize a strong and long life because of its health-giving properties. During the Han dynasty (206 BC- AD 220), people drank chrysanthemum wine on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month in order to prolong their lives.



picture of bouquet of white Chrysanthemums
white chrysanthemum can have different meanings in different cultures.

As a cut flower Chrysanthemums are hard to beat. The cut flower Chrysanthemum features 13 different classes of flower types, they come in a wide array of colors: white, yellow, green, orange, pink, red and purple flowers and are grown on long, strong stems. These assets as well as their exceptionally long vase life of approx. 2 weeks make it an ideal cut flower and re especially appreciated in the use of corporate arrangements that have to last for a week at least in the sometimes less than ideal office climates.

Chrysanthemums are frequently used in funeral work. In China Japan and Korea, white or yellow chrysanthemums symbolize grief. In many European countries such as Hungary, Poland, Croatia, France, Spain and Italy white Chrysanthemums are symbolic of death and are only used for funerals and grave sites. However the more colorful Chrysanthemums are used for many other occasions as well.

In US white Chrysanthemum symbolize truth.

Condition Chrysanthemum stems by removing all discolored and damaged foliage as well as all the foliage that will be under water, clean stems under a stream of water, removing about 1-2 inches of the stem by giving it a slanted cut with a sharp knife and place in lukewarm water with floral preservative for about 2 hours.    picture of Green Spidermum

To grow these non hardy florist Chrysanthemums will require lots of care and disbudding the lateral buds.

For more information here is a link 

Garden beds

picture ofFall Mums
Fall Chrysanthemums credit: Todays

Chrysanthemums are an obvious choice for late summer and fall garden colors. The easy to grow hardy mums are readily available from garden center and can be planted any time as long as the roots have a chance to get acclimated before being placed under too much stress due to extreme heat or cold. So approx. one and a half months or so before frost or extreme heath is a good rule of thumb. Hardy Chrysanthemums can be propagated by dividing, by plant cuttings or by seed.

Chrysanthemum can be grown in full sun or part shade, give them at least 4 hours of sun and make sure they are not crowded as Mildew can be a problem.

for more information here is a link

or this link

Chrysanthemum medicinal use goes back to the beginning of it’s history when it was  grown as an herb in it’s native China. It’s medicinal properties are called on to relief inflammatory conditions such as fever, hypertension, head aches, colds and eye infections and more.

Prepared as a tea made from the dried flower petals of white or yellow Chrysanthemums, Many people drink the beverage because of it’s cleansing qualities.

picture of cup of chrysanthemum tea
Chrysanthemum Tea

for more information click here
or this article by Jane Berdot


Julie Day from “Today’s Homeowner” question forum wrote the following on edibility.

Chrysanthemum flowers are edible, but the flavor varies widely from plant to plant, from sweet to tangy to bitter or peppery.

  • Chrysanthemum Tea: Traditional Asian chrysanthemum tea is typically made from the yellow or white flowers of Chrysanthemum morifolium or Chrysanthemum indicum..
  • Chrysanthemum Greens: Garland Chrysanthemum, or Chrysanthemum coronarium is a traditional Japanese vegetable, also known as Shungiku, it has a mild flavor that lends itself well to stir-fries and chop suey. Since you can use both the flowers and the greens of Garland chrysanthemum, it’s the most popular “edible” chrysanthemum for home gardens.
  • Salads, Garnishes, and Stir-Fries: Any type of chrysanthemum flowers can be blanched, then the petals removed and added to your favorite dish. This is easiest with large petaled varieties of mums. Use only the petals, since the flower base is usually very bitter.

Chrysanthemum Wine: You can also make wine from chrysanthemum flowers. Again, traditionally yellow or white blossoms are used.

Cautions: Pyrethrum, a plant based insecticide, is made from the dried flowers of Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium or Chrysanthemum coccineum. Although it takes a pretty high concentration of flowers to make pyrethrum, I would still avoid planting these types of mums in an edible garden.

The dog days of summer.

I grew up with cool summers in my native Holland and the sweltering hot Virginia summers had me wilting most of those sweaty days when I first arrived in my new homeland. The humid climate was one of the reasons we decided to move elsewhere and thus in 1994 my husband Mark, the three kids and I pulled up stakes and planted out roots in Portland OR in 1994. We still think we found the perfect climate. Despite Portland’s weather reputation, I love the climate here and so do many flowers I have noticed. A long growing season and plenty of rainfall, what more can I want?
However not every day is a beautiful day of course and the Oregon’s generous rainfall does not materialize year round. These last many weeks, maybe even months, it’s been very dry around here. Usually we experience a few of those hot sweaty dog days in summer, even here in Portland (and sometimes even in cool Holland), but this year Mother Nature seem to bring it on a lot.
Irrigation is a challenge, the way my gardens are spread out and on different properties. I use long hoses, both from the front and from the back of my house to reach most of the gardens around the neighborhood and I also placed hoses in strategic places to connect my long hose to in order to even reach a further distance, all outfitted with shut-off valves of course. These hoses are for reaching the spread-out gardens. Then soaker hoses do most of the work. Drip irrigation has helped me preserve water and my own energy as the water slowly drips into the soil near the root of the plants. There are still gardens that lack a soaker hose in place and here I have to water overhead with a sprinkler or I hand water around each plant, which is what I prefer. this allows me to inspect the plants and it’s environment while watering. Although it is time consuming, it is also one of the nicest jobs: giving all those lovely plants a good deep drink, what’s cooler than that?


More gardening space for city dwellers.

picture of lupineRunning out of space? As a city dweller it’s easy to run out of space in your garden for al the  flowers and plants you want, need or like to grow and so sometimes gardeners tend to crowd their plants in order to save space. Although there are creative ways to integrate different varieties of plants in a tight place for a more efficient use of space, simply not giving your plants the space that they need will not be the answer to your plant cravings as over-crowding often leads to spindly growth and diseases to booth.

picture of kniphofia
picture of CosmosRather than getting frustrated about the size of you garden, there are other ways to satisfy your flower gardening cravings. Many years ago I realized I needed way more space for all my plants and seeds than I could find on my own city lot, so I started looking for places in my neighborhood that were either neglected or underused. This was not hard to do and when I saw a place that seemed to meet my criteria, I approached the owners of these spaces and explained to them why I want to grow the flowers on their properties. I do all the work of course and I make sure to keep the place looking clean and tidy, (which is important for many reasons) and then when the blooms start appearing, I harvest the blooms for my floral arrangements and designs. Usually I will leave some blooms for neighbors and bees to enjoy though. This way they benefit, I benefit, the neighborhood benfits and the bees do too. Try it and let me know how it goes. The bees will love you for it and likely your neighbors will too.

Wildflowers on Larch Mountain

Once in a while my husband and I find time to go on a hike. I love to bring my wildflower book along so we can identify the flowers encountered on the trail. This Memorial Day weekend brought us to a misty Larch Mountain trail and although it was not a good day for beautiful vista’s that one can enjoy on a clear day, it was however a beautiful and almost mystical walk among the lush green undergrowth, the tall dense trees and the old growth snags and logs, resting on the forest floor.

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36 bushels of wheat 72 of rice 4 oxen 12 sheep 8 pigs 2 barrels of wine 4 barrels of beer 2 tons of butter 1000 pounds of cheese a bed a suit of clothes and a silver cup for a single glorious Tulip

JAN DAVIDSZ DE HEEM Festoon with Flowers and Fruits 1670As a transplant from Holland it is all too easy to identify with the ubiquitous Tulips in Spring as they are such a common symbol of the old country. But even at the risk of being cliche, this beautiful cut flower is worth knowing about because it comes with its own interesting history.
Originally from Turkey, the bulb was first introduced in the Netherlands in the second half of the 16th century and in America the Tulips appeared around the middle of the 19th century. Although Tulips showing up in a few European gardens as early as 1558, it is nevertheless Carolus Clusius who primarily is credited for bringing the Tulip to western Europe and he planted Tulips at the Vienna Imperial Botanical Gardens in 1573. After being appointed director of the newly established Hortus Botanicus at the Leiden University in Holland, Carolus planted some of his Tulip bulbs there in the fall of 1593. These Tulips at Hortus Botanicus in Leiden eventually led to one of the most famous speculative market bubbles of all times; the Tulip Mania.
The story goes that, not surprisingly people started to steal these tantalizingly beautiful exotic species from Carolus’ gardens and planted them in their own gardens. But more to the point, they started trading the bulbs for other goods. These beautiful Tulips were very well suited to the Dutch climate, surviving the cold winter months and appearing as a burst of color in a still very bare Dutch landscape first thing in Spring, so it was no wonder they caught on quickly. But the intensity of the Tulip mania, it’s duration and the exuberant amounts paid by some speculators was primarily due to the fact that some bulbs were exquisitely different. These bulbs produced flowers with such multicolor effects of intricate lines and flame-like streaks, they were so sought after that breeders did everything they could think of, to produce more of these rare and incredibly interestingl Viceroy Tulip and Semper Augusta. 
It is hard to fathom the fact that some of these rare bulbs traded at its peak for almost 10.000 guilders a piece. Approx. six times an average person’s annual salary. One such transaction reportedly stated: “After a long period of hard bargaining, an individual paid out thirty-six bushels of wheat, seventy-two of rice, four oxen, twelve sheep, eight pigs, two barrels of wine, four barrels of beer, two tons of butter, a thousands pounds of cheese, a bed, a suit of clothes, and a silver cup” for just one bulb. Although it is now known that this feathering effect is due to the bulb being infected with TBV the “Tulip breaking virus”, (so called because it “breaks” the one petal color into two or more), breeders at that time believed that it was environmental conditions that caused these effects. To increase the supply of these rare bulbs they tried to induce “rectification” ( it was believed that with the offset production of an entirely new “broken” bloom the plant was rectifying, itself into a purer life form) through various different breeding techniques such as: frequent soil changes, which causing the bulb to go to seed; varying the planting depths so the plant had to struggle in too much or too little soil; applying too much or too little manure; using soil that was either too poor or too rich; or storing the bulbs in exposed conditions so that they would be ‘acted’ upon by the rain, wind, sun, and extremes of temperature. In the end it was the Tulip itself that turned out to be a conspirator in the supply-squeeze that fueled the Tulip speculation. 
Although it takes 7–12 years to grow a flowering bulb from seed, Tulips can produce hundreds of seeds every year, however only two or three clones or offsets are produced each year. The “mother bulb” lasts only a few years and the “daughter offsets” will become flowering bulbs after one to three years. Since the sought-after “breaking pattern” can only be reproduced through offsets bulbs, not seeds. Plus the fact that the same virus that produced the sought-after effects also acted adversely on the bulb and therefore weakening it and retarding propagation, cultivating these most appealing varieties, remained an interesting but mysterious and slow-moving enterprise. Taking this into account, quite probably from the time the speculation started until its collapse, the number of rare bulbs that changed hands so feverishly possibly never increased beyond the original number.
Eventually in Feb 1637 the end of the Tulip Mania came even more abruptly than when it all began just over 40 years ago. A handful of buyers did not show up at regular bulb auctions in Haarlem, (a city just west of Amsterdam), quite possibly because it was at the height of the bubonic plaque. People for the first time were not able to sell to the high bidders and soon found themselves stuck with bulbs they could no longer find new buyers willing to pay increasingly inflated prices. As this realization set in, the demand for Tulips collapsed, and prices plummeted and the bubble burst. Some were left holding contracts to purchase tulips at prices now ten times greater than those on the open market, while others found themselves in possession of bulbs now worth a fraction of the price they had paid.
It is interesting to note that growers were able to produce new broken varieties through bulb grafting as early as 1637, by combining “broken” bulbs infected with the virus with healthy bulbs that produced uniformly colored flowers. But it was not until 1928 when it was discovered that the delicately feathery patterns were caused by a communicable plant disease.
Dorothy Cayley started a series of experiments that led to the discovery of the ‘Tulip Breaking Virus’. Working at the John Innes Horticultural Institution, She discovered that by transferring infected tissue from broken bulbs to healthy bulbs during their dormant state, the infective agent that caused the break in color would also be transferred. These experiments were further refined to include the tiny amounts that could be transferred by an insect which became her final deduction. The disease was eventually proven to be transferred by the aphid species in the 1960’s and proven to be a virus. Today the virus is almost eradicated from Tulip growers’ fields. The multicolored patterns or modern varieties result from breeding; they normally have solid, not feathered borders between the colors.
These days one can buy bulbs for “an apple and an egg” as the Dutch say (cheap), instead of an arm and a leg but it is nevertheless never a bad idea to find a ways to pinch a few dollars from your Tulip budget, (only to buy more plants of course) so here is a little info for those of you who like their Tulips to come back, year after year. Happy Spring Folks, it has officially arrived.

How to get Tulips to bloom forever.

Well, almost. Though they have a reputation for being short-lived, we know of Tulips that have been blooming beautifully for decades. Here’s how to get the most out of yours. For a start, you need to be in zone 7 or colder. (Gardeners in warmer zones can grow Tulips as annuals, but you’ll need to chill them in the refrigerator for 8 weeks before planting.) Then most important, we’ve learned from experience, is keeping them DRY in SUMMER (as in their native homes). Try this: plant a few where you never water in summer — or near a thirsty shrub or tree — and see how well they return. Beyond that, the basics include well-drained soil (improve heavy soil, or try raised beds), lots of sun, regular fertilizing, and — this is very important — letting the foliage ripen to yellow to feed the bulbs for next year’s bloom. Some authorities recommend deep planting, especially in the South — to 12 inches — but we say 6-8 inches is plenty. Then there’s this age-old method: dig them up every summer, store them in a cool dry spot, and replant them in the fall. You’ll end up with more bulbs every year, guaranteed. Some varieties just last better, too — often Single Earlies, Single Lates, Lily-flowered Tulips. And there’s a good reason why OLD VARIETIES OFTEN PERENNIALIZE BETTER: they were bred for gardens, not for commercial pot-flower and cut-flower uses as most modern Tulips have been. Tulips do best when planted in mid- to late fall, after the soil has thoroughly cooled. Later is better than earlier with Tulips. If necessary, store in open bags in a cool, dry spot (or the refrigerator — NOT the freezer). Neutral to slightly alkaline soil is ideal, though Tulips are very adaptable. Set bulbs about 6 inches apart from center to center (or closer for a lush look). For each, scratch a tablespoon of bulb fertilizer into the surface soil (slow-release 10-10-10 is ideal). Use no manure. Water well and make sure the bulbs have reliable moisture throughout their growing period, from planting in the fall through the ripening of their foliage the following summer.

October still has it going on with Dahlias, Zinnias, Monkshood, Toad Lilies and more..

Are you wondering how much longer local flower will be playing a role in Petal Passion’s bouquets? Well the first frost will make an end to all the abundance of fall flowers, but that could still be weeks away. And the hard rains, that are just as capable of destruction, have not really materialized yet either. So a word to the wise: make sure you get your fill  of local flowers while we can still enjoy this abundance. Soon enough pickings will be slim and we will have to shift to more exotic varieties.
Dahlias, Zinnias, Monkshood, Toad lily, Asters, Strawflower, Clerodendron, Amaranth, Sunflowers, Verbena, Boston Fern, several varieties of Millet and still Roses too are all in season in Portland.  It’s so interesting to me how the flowers that grow together are often strikingly beautiful in a bouquet even if the colors don’t necessarily blend. As a beginning florist I often felt that I needed to carefully buy flowers that ‘matched’ or complimented each other. This approach does make a nice bouquet but at times when I was forced to ‘make-it-work-with-what-I-had’ I often realized that these types of bouquets create much more interest and excitement than classical combinations that you’ll find in any florist shop. I do love creating arrangements in abundance and feel so lucky to have the botanical materials available to me for such a long time of the year. Yes October still has it going on. Make sure you do to! Go out to find grasses alongside the road, wander into your (or a friend’s) yard and cut a few greens for that structural stability and then pick or purchase  Mother Nature’s last floral rays of summer, a bit of her ‘laughter’ before we’ll all have to embrace the warmth and cold of the upcoming winter with traditional holiday cheer.