During the frosty, winter months here in Winnipeg, people develop a renewed acquaintance with the inside of their homes, simply because going outside isn’t always a safe option. While there is no outdoor gardening bliss to be had at this time of year, I’ve begun to pay more attention to the inside of our home, really SEE it. Every nook and cranny. Old watermarks on the ceiling that I didn’t notice before. Tape still on the walls in the library from Darren’s old posters. Dust bunnies the size of tumbleweeds in dark corners of the basement. A million indoor project ideas crowd onto my mental to-do list like a New York subway at rush hour.
But what to do first?
My first choice is an attempt to continue gardening indoors with dreams of having big, gorgeous pots of rust, red and yellow chrysanthemums framing our exterior doorways next autumn.
When I first moved up here, autumn was right around the corner and with it being my favorite season, Darren surprised me with a little 3″ pot of a fall-coloured chrysanthemum and a cute, little ceramic pumpkin. I was absolutely tickled!
I have always been partial to mums as they are the flower of my birth month but more historically interesting is that the chrysanthemum, first cultivated in China as a flowering herb, was described in writings as early as the 15th Century B.C. The ancient Chinese word for chrysanthemum is “Chu.” The city of Chu-Hsien (which means Chrysanthemum City) was named in honor of this alluring flower. The chrysanthemum was first introduced to the west in 1753 when Karl Linnaeus, renowned Swedish botanist, combined the Greek words chrysos, meaning gold with anthemon, meaning flower. As an herb, it was believed to have the power of life. Before the advent of modern medicine, the boiled roots were used as a headache remedy; young sprouts and petals were eaten in salads; and leaves were brewed for a festive drink. You can read more about the history of the mum here: http://www.mums.org/history-of-the-chrysanthemum/
After the flowers on my gift had wilted, I was determined not to let this pretty little plant die. In So Cal, I had always thought that mums were annuals and that they had to be replaced with new plants every year. But not always being a big fan of ‘rules’ when it comes to certain things, I decided to try something different up here in the true north. I clipped the three main arms of my little plant off, stuck them in a small vase with fresh water and then found a nice, warm, well-lit spot for them to wait out the winter in. I was attempting to get these little pieces to root.
Sure enough, they did! So, I planted them in a 5″ pot with some nice, basic potting soil and with a little TLC, they made it through the winter. As the weather began to warm up, my little pieces of mum began to flourish and grow and by the end of spring, they had gotten so big that I had to transplant the whole thing into a larger pot! The summer saw my mum sprouts grow into a rather large bush, about 1 1/2 ft. wide and 2 ft. tall. I was amazed that this big ol’ thing of beauty grew from three little clippings.
So, at the beginning of winter this year, I clipped quite a few sprigs from this new, larger mum plant and set them to root in fresh water, just as I did that first time.
The new pieces have since rooted and have taken up residence in some clean, new potting soil tucked in a pot in a warm corner of our living room. As for the original, large plant… it is relaxing on holiday with a miniature rose-bush and some African violets under a fluorescent lamp on the potting bench in our basement just waiting for the first signs of spring.
I’ll be waiting right along with them. These plants are going to be just stunning come summertime and then autumn when these beautiful blooms will be in their full glory.
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus