Chrysanthemum ‘Emperor of China’ – Korean (C.’Cottage Pink’)

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Chrysanthemum ‘Emperor of China’ – Korean (C.’Cottage Pink’)

£5.50

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Potsize – 1L

A very old, beautiful and distinctive cultivar. After the first frosts, before the flowers open in September the leaves colour a rich ruby red setting off the silvery pink quilled double flowers beautifully. It’s habit is to rather open with a tendency to sprawl. Tie it early if you are a tidy gardener or alternatively let it snake its way through its neighbours to pop out in unexpected places.  Looks really good with the silvers of Artemisia

We recently had the pleasure of sending this plant to Annabel Watts at Munstead Wood and she kindly sent us copies of 2 articles written about this Chrysanthemum for the Garden, Sept 29, 1888, by Gertrude Jekyll. I have copied these into the gallery of photographs.

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Description

Chrysanthemum ‘Emperor of China’ – Korean (C.’Cottage Pink’)

Chrysanthemum ‘Emperor of China’ is a very old, beautiful and distinctive cultivar. After the first frosts, before the flowers open in September the leaves colour a rich ruby red setting off the silvery pink quilled double flowers beautifully. It’s habit is to rather open with a tendency to sprawl. Tie it early if you are a tidy gardener or alternatively let it snake its way through its neighbours to pop out in unexpected places.  Looks really good with the silvers of Artemisia

 

Chrysanthemums

Of all of the daisies, none has been so cultivated and bred as the Chrysanthemum. The name means literally ‘Golden Flower’ a reference to the colour of the first hybrids. These were created from Chrysanthemum vestitum (morifolium) and Chrysanthmum indicum and were produced in China where they are still held in particular esteem.

Chrysanthemums have been cultivated in China since at least 500BC. In 797 the Mikado (the ruler of Japan) adopted the Chrysanthemum as his emblem and the current Emeror sits on the ‘Chrysanthemum Throne’. The rising sun on the Japanese flag is actually a representation of the Chrysanthemum not the Sun.

It wasn’t until the 18th century that Chrysanthemums mad their way to Europe.

Breeding has led to many classifications amongst this group, some being good garden plants, others the preserve of the Chrysanthemum enthusiast and the show bench.

One of the first good garden strains came from American breeding. Alex Cummings crossed Chrysanthemum koreanum with an early outdoor Chrysanthemum called ‘Ruth Hatton’ to produce those plants we now call ‘Koreans’. In 1938, Amos Perry introduced the Rubellum hybrids. They are similar to the Koreans and are characterised by carrying many flowered spray in a wide range of colours. The pompons are the result of a semi-double mahogany red plant calle the Chusan Daisy that Robert Fortune introduced in 1846. It found little favour in Britain and was taken up by the French. The name Pompon came from a fancied resemblance to the pompons worn on the hats of French sailors.

Composite Flowers

The composite flower head is the defining character of the Asteraceae. What appears to be a single daisy flower is in fact a flower head comprising of many many individual smaller flowers, in many cases two different forms of flower that together form the distinctive daisy structure. They make excellent flowers for insects to visit as each individual head is actually a multitude of nectar bearing flowers that the insect can collect from one after another.

There is a wealth of detail to study in the morphology of daisies along with a dictionary of names for the parts. I shan’t go into any great depth, but a little more detail might be interesting. The central part of the flower is called the disc and is comprised of a tightly packed array of more or less symmetrical flowers with quite small petals. These open from the outside inwards, with the outside being the oldest. Interestingly, if you study the arrangement of these flowers they are arranged in a series of spirals from the centre. You will be able to detect right and left handed spirals and if you take the time to count these spirals you will find that the number of left and right handed spirals will be two adjacent numbers from the Fibonacci series (This is a sequence of numbers made by by adding up the preceding two numbers in the sequence; Hence 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34….)

The showy outer petals of a daisy are flowers of a different type. These are the assymmetrical ray florets. They lack the nectar of the disc florets and have the function of attracting insects (and gardeners!).

There is a third type of flower, a ligule, which is a assymetrical flower with one elongate petal, that can occur in the disc region. These can give flower heads a shaggy appearance and can be seen in plants such as Ligularia or Eupatorium.

Some of the daisy family have flowers that track the sun, a mechanism designed to make the flower a warmer more inviting environment for pollinators, especially in cold but sunny weather. The consummate example of this is the Sunflower, Helianthus, which gets in name from its tracking of the sun rather than from its sun-like appearance.

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