Flower Arranging With Chrysanthemums

One of the most dependable and long lasting of all flowers for arrangement is the chrysanthemum. For this reason it has been appreciated by the Japanese for some hundreds of years. Although lately greatly increased in varieties, types, etc., many of its chief characteristics remain the same. More than anything else, it is the overall length of the flowering period which has been altered and extended almost beyond belief.

First cultivated in England, as far as is known during the eighteenth century, the chrysanthemums flowered on October 15th and not before—a hundred years later it is recorded as still doing the same. Then French horticulturists worked on the possibilities of earlier flowering types, realising the commercial potentialities of success. But it was not until thirty years ago that in England results were achieved.

Now, by keeping some chrysanthemums under glass for most of the year outdoor crops are available from July onwards into October and there is an almost constant source of supply, supplemented by shipments from abroad.

And so, there is seldom a shortage of chrysanthemums for flower decoration. Is this a good thing? Do we tend to depend too much on their almost permanent availability, knowing how reliable they are, to the detriment of other flowers? (This also applies to gladioli.)Flower Arranging With Chrysanthemums

The Japanese, who rule that flowers must only be used in their proper season, would not approve of such a procedure. What is their objection? Why should one only arrange flowers which are appropriate to a certain time of the year, such as branches of blossom in the spring and sprays of chrysanthemums in the autumn? The Japanese answer to this is that only by using what is in season does one learn about other flowers and plants. This thesis seems quite reasonable, for, if one only arranged chrysanthemums, gladioli, carnations and florists’ roses, the chances are that they would be the only flowers one was familiar with or liked to use.

In this way, one of the main points of Japanese flower arrangement would be lost—that of getting to know not only the name but also the habits of various flowers and plants that are useful and suitable. The more extensive this knowledge the greater one’s respect for the growing plant.

Here is a short list of recommended varieties suitable for the garden, decoration and cutting:

WHITE: Evelyn Bush, Whiteball, Jacqueline.

YELLOW: J.R. Johnson, Yellow Snowdance and Betty Wiggins.

BRONZE: Bill Speat, Westfield Bronze and Hector Morris.

PINK: Catherine Porter, Florist and John Wool-man.

RED: Red Flare and Super Star.

PURPLE: Regalia and Wyvern.

BRONZE-APRICOT: Morley Jones.

CHAMPAGNE-PINK: Shantung.

Others which do not need debudding and can be grown for garden display and cutting are:

WHITE: Lilly Wisbech and Garden White.

YELLOW: Joke and Golden Orfe.

BRONZE: Wally Ruff and Nerina.

Returning to the point of a longer flowering period for chrysanthemums brings us to their a.

usefulness in certain types of flower arrangement. They survive equally well, unlike some other flowers, either arranged on a pin holder or in a mesh of wire netting or in `Florapak’ or ‘Oasis’. They seem to have no preference. They will stand up (probably more successfully than any other flower) to the conditions imposed by central heating, and they come in different lengths of stem, some of the taller spray chrysanthemums being especially valuable for large arrangements.

But this is not all : there is a fantastically large range of colours, varying from white, creamy white, lemon yellow, sunshine yellow and deep gold, through all the various tones of orange, copper and bronze to pink, rose and deep wine. White chrysanthemums for weddings and funerals, or for occasions when white flowers are required, are invaluable. They are also important for use at Christmas and will fit into any holly and white flower schemes, e.g. group consisting of Christmas roses, white anemones, white carnations, and white orchids (in this case the small spray chrysanthemum would be most suitable, cut short), or else arranged alone. Chrysanthemums are also suitable for taking to a patient in hospital, for they will contend with draughts and abrupt changes of temperature with more good nature than almost any other plant.

Two or three flowers, arranged with their foliage (which is original in shape and usually a good, dark green in colour) will comprise a group, if the stems are cut different lengths so that each flower can be cleaVly seen. The single chrysanthemums are especially attractive in this type of group, as are the early flowering chrysanthemums named ‘radar’, with thin narrow petals which give a shaggy appearance to the flower.

So far I have been referring to the chrysanthemum as something which comes into its proper season in the autumn. But there are, of course, many other members of this family which are available in their proper season, namely summer. Some of these are amongst the most valuable material for large arrangements which require bunches of flowers, economical in price, reliable in staying power, and attractive in shape.

Of these perhaps the best-known to flower arrangers is the Shasta daisy or Esther Read (C. maximum). A first cousin to Esther Read is Wirral Perfection, recommended especially as being good in the border as well as for cutting. Sometimes large groups for weddings or receptions need a great deal of what is known in the trade as ‘padding’, this means material which is unobtrusive enough not to clash with or detract from the more important flowers, but which will provide the much needed body and substance. Such a flower is the Esther Read chrysanthemum, described as ‘anemone centred’. Coming chiefly in white they are valuable either with other white flowers for a wedding or as a contrast with different colours. They last, one could almost claim, for weeks.

Then there is the wild ox-eye daisy, (C. leucanthemum), which is, again, long lasting and one of the most charming in this chrysanthemum family. With their wide open white petals and golden centres, these daisies are simple and beautiful. They give a light touch to more solidly constructed flowers and have a grace which some culti- vated flowers from the border might well envy.

Rather like a bigger edition of the ox-eye daisy is C. frutescens the large white marguerite common to many gardens and sometimes found growing by the roadside. This is another invaluable flower for arrangement, because of its size, clear white petals, golden centres, long stems, and dark green foliage. Being simple in shape C. frutescens is singularly effective in a large arrangement or looks charming when arranged in a group on its own.

Yet another of this group of chrysanthemums is the plant known as feverfew, with clusters of small daisy like flowers at the ends of branching stems. There is a variety with yellow leaves known as golden feather, but this is not as attractive as the similar feverfew which has fresh green leaves, making a cooler background for the gold and white daisies. These sprays of flowers are attractive either for small arrangements or to give a light, branched effect with more solid material such as pansies, godetias, phlox and the Esther Reads already mentioned.

The mention of small flowered feverfews reminds one of the chrysanthemum (as we think of it) belonging to the pompon variety. This is one of the outdoor kind. Some of the smallest of this group are useful in early autumn in much the same way as the feverfew is in the summer — to lighten a large group or to use in a small arrangement. These flowers may also be cut into short sprays.

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