Dendranthema ‘Cambodian Queen’

Nipped in the bud. Autumn was just beginning to rev up its motors when it was shut down. I mean, totally over. October wasn’t even out the door and my proud dendranthema moment along the road was packed under snow and then pummeled by plow trucks. The good news is that it wasn’t smashed under tree limbs because the spruce survived unscathed. But the dendranthema flowers were freeze-dried into an unidentifiable scramble when the melt finally happened a week later. Ah well.

Of course, when I say dendranthema, I really mean hardy mum. Nothing fancier. They will survive. Same time next year, they’ll do their thing. Still, I was rather proud of their glory…

I can be seriously “bah humbug-ish” about mums. I skip the non-hardy tight little bun-types entirely. But I’m fond of the rock solid hardy ‘Sheffield’ types that originated in my neighborhood. It’s a good example of growing local. So many people in the area claim credit for the champagne-colored ‘Sheffield’ variety that I’m not going to weigh in on its origins here. Suffice to say that it has regional roots. And even before I heard the local lore, I was a major fan of ‘Sheffield’.

Then ‘Cambodian Queen’ came along and it proved even more vigorous. The tissue pink color is a little more cutesy than ‘Sheffield’s sophisticated champagne, but they both stand exactly the same height and work nicely in tandem. In fact, ‘Cambodian Queen’s flower count can give ‘Sheffield’ a run for its money. And it grows like green lightning. In my hell-strip by the road, not only does it soldier on, but it’s muscling out ‘Sheffield’. I’m sure that ‘Sheffield’ will hold its own. They’re both athletes.

The other dendranthemas I’ve grown tend to be comparatively shaggy and gangly. ‘Clara Curtis’ talked a good game. But I pulled out of her fan club after she fizzled out following a sparse display of only a few floppy, leggy flowers. I haven’t tried ‘Samba’, ‘Venus’, or ‘Rhumba’ – does anyone want to weigh in on those? I was worried that they might bear an uneasy resemblance to the mounded mums I detest. The reason why I opt for dendranthemas rather than mums has to do with loose and airy — as well as hardiness.

Newbie Alert! There’s an array of “Global Warming Mums” in the offing that I can’t wait to try. Of course, they’re really dendranthemas. ‘Autumn Moon’, ‘Glowing Embers’, and ‘Purple Mist’ threaten to extend the growing season even longer than the ‘Sheffield’ types. Hard to imagine…

By the way, this post comes to you following a week of no power. Yep. My house was 42 degrees (we’re talking Fahrenheit). Plus I had two weeks of no internet connections. The October snowstorm dumped a foot of leaden snow on our still-foliated trees. I lost the apple that was on the 1790 deed to my property. And I lost a huge catalpa. Other than that, it was just a mess of strewn limbs and split trees. I was lucky — nothing fell on my house and I’m now safe, warm, and blogging again. How’d you all weather the storm?

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