Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Festival of Fabulous Mums

By Sarah Leach Smith, Visitor Services Coordinator
Photos by Michelle Rawlins, Horticulturist

Celebrate the season of chrysanthemums at the first Festival of Fabulous Mums at Duke Gardens. The mums in this display are very different from typical garden mums. You will discover an amazing array of shapes and sizes, including spectacularly large flowers with spidery petals, quill petals, pompon shapes and exotic forms, all grown for this exhibit sponsored by the Central Carolina Chrysanthemum Society (CCCS) and Duke Gardens.

This free, drop-in event will begin Sunday, Nov. 6, and run through Wednesday, Nov. 9. Festival plants will show the tremendous array of mum flower shapes, as well as the impact of different growing techniques to encourage extra-large flowers in all the autumn hues of yellow, gold, plum, rust and red.

Members of the CCCS have grown these plants just for the festival. The blooms will not be judged, as they would in a national flower show. Instead, you can vote on your favorite flowers in the display area. You will also want to tour the Culberson Asiatic Arboretum to see the exhibit-style mums throughout the landscape.

Festival activities will be in the Kirby Horton Hall in the Doris Duke Center. In addition to admiring the mums on display, you’ll be able to chat with members of the CCCS about cultivating mums in your own garden. On Sunday, Nov. 6, from 1 to 2 p.m., enjoy a floral design demonstration by Pat McCracken of McCracken’s Nursery in Zebulon, N.C., a commercial grower with a love of floral design and pottery. Pat’s completed design, which will incorporate mums and use one of his original pottery pieces, will be on display for the remainder of the festival and raffled off on the last day. There will be additional raffles as well, including a “Magic Mum Pot” that will contain everything you will need to get started in growing exhibition mums, and a beautiful chrysanthemum printed scarf from Talbots.

Children of all ages will enjoy word searches, scavenger hunts and a mum festival booklet that you can rubber stamp when you’ve seen examples of the different kinds of blooms. You will also see various forms of growing mums, such as bonsai, and displays of historical mum artifacts. Don’t miss the selfie station—you’ll be the envy of your friends on social media!

Duke Gardens horticulturist Michelle Rawlins, a CCCS member, has grown quite a number of these show mums for Duke Gardens, and those will be on display in the Asiatic Arboretum throughout November.

Michelle began growing mums for display in Duke Gardens a few years ago, and it has become a passion for her. She’s excited to host this festival with the CCCS so that we can all enjoy the demonstration of beautiful flowers trained by careful horticulturists.

You may also become captivated by the exhibit mums and want to find out even more about these amazing flowers. The CCCS is always open to new members or visitors at its monthly meetings, held on the third Monday of every month at noon at JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh. The society was founded in 2015 and now has more than 40 members. Michelle enjoys meeting with the group to discuss chrysanthemums and is happy to see younger generations getting more involved. “It’s like a book club, but you get to talk about your plants, how they’re growing and what challenges you might be running into."
Michelle starts her mums like this every February.
Please join us for “A Festival of Fabulous Mums” and find out what all the excitement is about. Admission is free, though parking fees apply.

The hours of this drop-in festival are as follows:
                Sunday, Nov. 6, noon – 6 p.m.
                Monday, Nov. 7, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
                Tuesday, Nov. 8, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
                Wednesday, Nov. 9, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

For more information, please call 919-668-1707 or email

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