Being a flower farmer is much like being an artist, I’m always looking for ways to keep my pallet of colours fresh and vibrant. I need a planting scheme that allows me to harvest gorgeous flowers practically all year round and it’s November so I’m celebrating the chrysanthemum. I have managed to nurture some beauties and they are filling the gap where other flowers fear to tread.
We don’t have polly tunnels or greenhouses yet, so it is quite a challenge to grow things that really should be grown under cover. I have variously used the spare bedroom, my mothers porch, the garage and this year the balcony in front of our bedroom. As a chrysanthemum growing virgin I did look up hints and tips on youtube and even bought a pile of white paper ‘bud bags’ to protect my precious flowers. I fed my babies nitrogen (stinging nettle juice) while they were in their green infancy and potassium (comfrey tea) when they reached adulthood. But nobody had prepared me for the scale and proportions of these plants, I suppose I hadn’t asked. I started staking with 4ft bamboo but soon had to extend to 6ft and string, lots of it, hooping and festooning desperately attempting to restrain the luxuriant growth. I had a forest of Chrysanthemums growing outside my bedroom window and like sleeping beauty before me, I had no need of curtains.
Then the autumn storms arrived, battering my top heavy treasures and scattering them across the decking. More string, lots more, I stood them all up and lashed them to the railings. And I continued to feed and nurture protecting my darlings from an onslaught by voracious munching caterpillars. I know, I know, I am a paid up member of the butterfly-conservation.org but where my flowers are concerned, I am vigilant. The caterpillars were rehoused appropriately and have gone on to live happy and fulfilled lives I promise.
Soon passers by were stopping in the street to admire my floriferous balcony. Because I have not followed the youtube ‘dis bud’ instructions, I have more flowers than I really should have. There is no way I could exhibit any of my Chrysanthemums but that was never my goal. I needed flowers for my bouquets, so I’ve grown fancy ones from chrysanthemumsdirect.co.uk and glorious jewel coloured ones from sarahraven.com.
After using them in flower arrangements, I want to know other facts about chrysanthemums.
I find out that Japan has an ancient imperial throne called the Chrysanthemum throne and the flowers are thought to represent Happiness and Joy. The Chrysanthemum festival is celebrated in October/November, a sort of Oriental version of Halloween in which the ancestors are honoured and respects are paid to elderly relatives. In appreciation of all things chrysanthemum, children learn poems about them, there are exhibitions and flower arranging competitions and of course there is much drinking of chrysanthemum Tea.
My research tells me that Chrysanthemum tea - calms and balances the nerves and eases stress, tension and anxiety. It helps cure headaches and dizziness, and sharpens the vision and hearing. It clears the brain and increases blood flow to the heart. By enhancing the immune system it dispels fevers, colds, swelling and scurvy. Because it’s rich in calcium, vitamin B’s and vitamin C it promotes healthy complexion and treats acne. It helps with high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, blocked arteries and varicose veins. Most importantly it reduces signs of ageing.
Who knew that Chrysanthemum tea could be such a panacea. There is one caveat though, if you haven’t been drinking the tea since infancy it might not be so efficacious, for my research also states that - “It must be taken over a long time before it starts to take effect.”
Oh well we may still have the snuffles, but no one can deny us Chrysanthemum fans… Happiness and Joy.