Mum's the Word: Chrysanthemum Festival

Mum’s the word at the Longwood Gardens Chrysanthemum Festival held in late autumn every year. A few years ago, I traveled with my Sherpa (aka: my husband) to Longwood Gardens to experience the festival. They have been growing mums since the opening of the garden in 1921, though it wasn’t until 1981 that the festival became known as the ‘Chrysanthemum Festival’, which is “the most intricate and labor-intensive display of horticulture”(1) that is held at the garden.

“The most intricate and labor-intensive display of horticulture”(1) that is held at the garden.

At Longwood Gardens, for a number of years they tried to grow a Thousand Bloom ‘plant’, but without much success, getting only about 250 flowers. So, in 2007 they sent some of their staff to Japan to learn from the Japanese experts about how to create this monumental bloom. In the year 2011, they had their first Thousand Bloom of 1,167 flowers and have since continued to have great success of growing this extraordinary ‘plant’ that they start cultivating over a year in advance of the chrysanthemum festival.
Mum's the Word: Chrysanthemum Festival

The year I attended the chrysanthemum festival, the ‘Thousand Bloom Chrysanthemum,’ had 1,515 white chrysanthemum blooms, which is amazing to think that from one stem they were able to cultivate that many flowers. This year it has 1,443 yellow blooms. I wonder who has the task of counting all of those flowers?! There is truly a great art to creating such a perfectly domed-shaped display. Personally, I wouldn’t try this at home :-)

Also that year, they flooded this exhibit hall floor with water to create a reflecting pool of the chrysanthemums and flowers around it. The centerpiece was made up entirely of chrysanthemums and was lowered every day to be watered.Mum's the Word: Chrysanthemum Festival

Every year they cultivate a plant to show all the varieties of chrysanthemums shown during the festival. Each one is grafted onto a single chrysanthemum stock to create this one plant, which is quite fascinating.Mum's the Word: Chrysanthemum Festival

There are thirteen different classes of chrysanthemums, and this one is the Anemone Chrysanthemum (Class 8). This Chrysanthemum, x morifolium ‘Sozan’, is shaped by one or more layers of petals around a raised cushion-like button.Mum's the Word: Chrysanthemum Festival

Here is another chrysanthemum cultivated into this dome-like shape and surrounded by the tall Irregular Incurve Chrysanthemum (Class 1).Mum's the Word: Chrysanthemum Festival

This view across the Conservatory allows you to see how big the Thousand Bloom Mum was the year I visited, and they continue to have it as the centerpiece as you walk into the conservatory.Mum's the Word: Chrysanthemum Festival

Longwood gardeners grow approximately 60-65 percent of the chrysanthemums for the Festival and there are 20,000 plants exhibited this year. It is no doubt a huge undertaking to grow that many plants, and a real art to grooming them into this cascading waterfall.Mum's the Word: Chrysanthemum Festival

An inviting view of one of the many hallways in the Conservatory. So lush to be surrounded by all of these colorful and bright blooms.Mum's the Word: Chrysanthemum Festival

Every year the chrysanthemum festival opens in October, and this year you can see it through Sunday, November 19th. Truly a trip worth taking.


Share with me below: What is your favorite botanical garden festival?

Chrysanthemum ‘Redwing Mum’. Photographed @ Longwood Gardens.

Floating Petals

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