Chrysanthemum displays - not just for the front yard

Fall chrysanthemum shows around the US.

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    Fall spectacular: Many public gardens show off the beauty of mums in autumn.
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This time of year, many homeowners brighten up their front steps with pots of brick-red or yellow chrysanthemums. But true fans of the flower may also want to check out one of several chrysanthemum shows taking place around the country this fall.

At the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, N.Y., “Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Chrysanthemum” runs Oct. 18-Nov. 16, billed as a “cultural exhibition and flower show.” “Kiku” is the Japanese term for meticulously cultivated chrysanthemums, which are pinched, staked and tied to grow into specialized shapes.

Varieties include ozukuri, with hundreds of blossoms in dome-shaped arrays, all from a single plant; ogiku, a single-stemmed plant up to six feet tall with one perfect flower; kengai, a cascading frame covered by small-flowered mums; and shino-tsukuri, mums that open wide with different shaped petals that change as they age.

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Oregon’s Portland Japanese Garden also hosts a “Kiku Matsuri,” or chrysanthemum festival, Oct. 18-Nov. 2. The event includes a two-day Ikebana International Chrysanthemum Exhibition and a special display of potted mums as well as cascades of flowers grown from a single root, pom-poms and spider mums.

In Omaha, Neb., the Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha’s Botanical Center, host a Fall Chrysanthemum Show until Nov. 23, with hundreds of mums along with Japanese maples, bamboo, and Zen garden influences such as a rock garden.

The Botanic Garden of Smith College in Northampton, Mass., hosts a Fall Chrysanthemum Show in its Lyman Conservatory, Nov. 1-16. The celebration of Asian culture includes tea tastings, basketry demonstrations and lectures, along with mums in unusual shapes and colors, including some that are six feet tall.

In Maryland, the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks hosts the 2008 Fall Chrysanthemum Show with a theme of “Asian Roots,” Nov. 8-30. Thirty types of mums in various colors and forms will be on display at the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Baltimore, located inside Druid Hill Park.

In Mobile, Ala., Bellingrath Gardens and home hosts the Annual Mum Festival, Nov. 8-26, where hundreds of four-foot-long flowering cascades are showcased on bridges and balconies and other spots around the gardens. The cascades are grown at Bellingrath, with a single crop requiring more than nine months of cultivation. The flowers peak the second and third weeks of November.

Many other localities host two-day chrysanthemum shows and sales, including Houston’s Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Dec. 6-7; the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, Oct. 25-26; and events in California at the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden at Cal State Long Beach, Oct. 25-26, and at Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge, where a chrysanthemum show is part of the Nov. 1-2 Japanese Garden Festival.

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