This section is from the book "Beautiful Gardens - How To Make Them And Maintain Them", by Walter P. Wright. Also available from Amazon: Beautiful Gardens: How To Make And Maintain Them.
Is the florists' Chrysanthemum, cultivated on the lines now practised, worth the trouble and expense that it entails? A person gazing at a prize stand, or at a collection in a conservatory in November, might reply "Yes" with some amount of emphasis. Truly the flower fills a void that without it would be severely felt. All the same, there is room for two opinions on the big bloom question.
The lover of garden Chrysanthemums might well leave those who are the most interested in the matter to fight it out among themselves, were it not that there would be danger of the impression (which is already held far too strongly) that only indoor Chrysanthemums are worth discussing being still further strengthened. The more argument there is over one particular class the more people are liable to conclude that it is the only one which counts. The mischief that this works has been seen among Roses. All Rose matter in the horticultural Press in years gone by bore on exhibition varieties and show questions. The result was that people forgot that there were any other Roses in the world, and gardens were filled with varieties which had very little horticultural value. Garden lovers must see to it that the similar coterie which is interested in keeping show Chrysanthemums before the public does not work the same mischief as the Rose show clique did.
At present garden Chrysanthemums are being kept alive by cottagers, in whose gardens they give beautiful effects in autumn, in spite of the fact that this class of cultivator does not, as a rule, attempt to grow the plants at all, but simply leaves them to "come up." When they are really grown they are capable of magnificent work, and, in conjunction with Michaelmas Daisies, will do for the autumn what Roses, Carnations, Phloxes, and the rest do for the summer garden.
One of the most powerful recommendations of the Chrysanthemum is that a collection of late-blooming plants may be grown in a reserve plot, and shifted to their flowering quarters in the garden proper at the end of summer or early in autumn, when well set with buds. Cool, showery weather should be taken advantage of for this work of transplantation, but it can be done in dry weather if the plants are chopped round with a spade a few days in advance of removal, and well watered just before they are shifted. In the dry autumn of 1906 the author shifted a large number of Chrysanthemums full of buds without their showing the slightest sign of a check. This means that beds and borders may be filled with earlier blooming plants without fear of autumn bareness, because they can be cut back when they fade, and the Chrysanthemums planted amongst them to carry on the display until sharp frost comes and spoils the flowers, which may not be until November is well advanced in mild districts.
It is stupid to speak of the Chrysanthemum as though it were a heaven-sent gift to a circle of cup-and-prize hunters. It is nonsense to class it as tender. It is as hardy as the vast majority of what are classed as hardy herbaceous plants, and the equal of the best of them in value as a garden flower. Although it will, and does, grow like a weed in cottage gardens, it responds to cultivation as readily as a Rose. It enjoys deep, rich soil, and does not in the least object to clay provided the ground is well pulverised.
The way to start with garden Chrysanthemums is to buy young rooted plants in spring, and to put them out about the middle of April. Subsequently the stock can be maintained, and increased if desired, by taking young basal shoots, with roots attached, in spring, and planting them in well manured soil a yard apart. Or they may be increased by means of cuttings. In the latter case (and especially in stiff soils, where damp may cause losses that mere cold could not), it is wise to pot up some roots in autumn, or pack them close together in boxes with soil amongst them, and put them in a cold frame. As soon as fresh shoots have pushed from two to three inches long in late winter or early spring, they may be taken off and struck in small pots. The young plants will be ready for planting in April.
All the fearful and wonderful process of first breaks, bud timing, stopping, and thinning may be wiped out of the routine with garden Chrysanthemums if the object is to get free-blooming, decorative plants, capable of making the garden beautiful, and of yielding abundance of bloom for the house. But there is no reason why a little thinning, both of shoots and buds, should not be done if the grower fancies a smaller number of larger flowers. As a matter of fact, there is no better material for the borders than a plant with five or six main shoots. It is neither thin nor crowded. It is handsome as a plant, and it will give very nice flowers, good enough for anything except filling green stands in a stuffy drill hall. The side shoots which will show on the selected stems should be rubbed out as fast as they put in an appearance. This is a very simple business, and, together with staking, is all the summer attention the plants need. Thinning the buds may be practised, but it should not be carried too far, or the plants will open all their flowers simultaneously, instead of in succession.
There is another thing the flower lover must guard against, and that is the belief that only early-blooming Chrysanthemums are good out of doors. Late varieties should also be chosen, otherwise the bloom will be over by the end of September. The lists herewith are put into two classes: (1) early, (2) midseason and late.
Crimson Marie Masse, red.
Fire Dragon, crimson and gold.
Gertie, salmon pink.
Goacher's Crimson, red.
Gustave Grunerwald, lilac pink.
Horace Martin, deep yellow, one of the best.
La Pluie d'Or, orange yellow.
Madame Desgranges, white.
Nina Blick, red and bronze.
O. J. Quintus, mauve.
Rabbie Burns, salmon pink.
Rubis, reddish claret.
Ryecroft Glory, bronze.
White Quintus, white.
Crimson Source d'Or, bronzy red.
Ettie Mitchell, bronzy yellow.
Framfield Pink (Madame Felix Perrin), pink.
Golden Glow, yellow.
Jimmie, purplish crimson.
Julie Lagravere, crimson.
Mabel Morgan, yellow.
Miss Jessie Riley, white.
Soleil d'Octobre, yellow.
Mrs. Percy Cragg, amber.
Source d'Or, orange.
Wm. Holmes, crimson and yellow.
Most of these belong to the Japanese section; they give a good range of colours, and they are, without exception, free bloomers.