Friday, October 30, 2015

Spotlight on Mums: from greenhouse to garden

Photo by Ashley Wong
By Micaela Unda

The Culberson Asiatic Arboretum is always a visual treat, particularly in fall, when green trees turn fiery orange and red, doubled by their reflection in the Asiatic Pond. But these last few weeks have brought an additional flourish of fall colors: show mums.

You'll find these long-stemmed chrysanthemums throughout the arboretum, but concentrated particularly in the new Pine Clouds Mountain Stream between the Japanese Pavilion and Flowers Drive. Pinks, oranges, yellows, whites, and with massive blooms, these stunning and photogenic flowers punctuate the landscape with cheerful pops of color.

This weekend will be the climax of the show mums' spectacle, with additional mums brought out from the Duke Gardens greenhouses. It's there where their lives begin, with staff horticulturists observing them carefully and taking detailed notes of their growth and health

The mums start from cuttings, says horticulturist Allison Vuyovich, who grew the flowers with fellow horticulturist Michelle Rawlins. "Then we pick three particular stalks that seem to be the strongest. You then let those grow up and stake them. Then we pinch the suckers and pinch off the buds." With  additional fertilizer, the buds and foliage grow large.

This is the second year that Duke Gardens has grown show-quality mums.  I enjoyed exploring the  aisles of the greenhouse, and seeing seeing the evolution of the plants as they blossom into the spectacular mums that earn their starring roles throughout the Asiatic Arboretum.

Garden-ready mums outside the propagation building.

The shapes and colors of the mums beg to be photographed, but learning how the mums are grown allowed me to truly appreciate their presence in the arboretum.

I hope you can visit Duke Gardens this weekend to appreciate these dramatic beauties, too!

Blogger and photographer Micaela Unda is a Duke University sophomore and a work-study marketing assistant at Duke Gardens. All photographs by Micaela Unda, except where noted.

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