Longwood Gardens celebrates fall with its Chrysanthemum Festival

Thirty-year old festival runs until Nov. 24.

Longwood Gardens shows off its chrysanthemum collection. | Tyra Lockhart TTN

Pennsylvania is home to the largest chrysanthemum bloom, and Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa., is showing it off.

Longwood Gardens has been growing chrysanthemums since 1921, but the festival didn’t start until 1981. It  runs until Nov. 24.

“The chrysanthemum is sort of the quintessential fall flower,” said Patricia Evans, the communications manager at Longwood Gardens. “A lot of people have at least one or two planted themselves or on their front porch. We call this one autumn’s colors – it kind of begins through the harvest season, when our gardens are in their top form. Then in November it’s all about the mums and then indoors. You could say it’s the last burst of color before winter comes.”

Evans said the flower’s popularity had begun to fade, but with festivals such as the one at Longwood Gardens, it’s starting to thrive and drive in a new audience.

Most people enjoy the burst of color the garden brings. Evans said kids focus on the flower’s colors while adults tend to appreciate the art form.

There’s a science behind the way the flowers are shaped and grown. Steps include pinching, tying and budding the plant into a particular shape, which can take up to 18 months. The Chrysanthemum Festival is the most intensive and time-consuming horticultural presentation of the year and Evans said anybody working with this project needs to possess a scientific and artistic vibe.

The biggest sight to see this year is the largest 1,000-bloom mum in North America, which possesses more than 1,400 yellow blooms. This is the first time this has been done, and Evans said Longwood Gardens is proud to be the creator of it.

Visitors are encouraged to take a picture with the bloom, upload it to their Instagram account and hashtag it with #thousandbloom.

The tagged collection includes an array of people, some older and some younger in front of the large, bright yellow, half-cylinder shaped plant.

“People who love gardens love to see Longwood because we like to show the audience what we like to see, and we grow things in extraordinary ways,” Evans said. “You will see us use so many different varieties, even if you love the plant you will see one or two other ones you probably haven’t seen before.”

In order to make sure the festival experience is unique, the team at Longwood Gardens goes on plant explorations in other countries to see what they would be interested in showcasing.

Chelsea Finn can be reached at chelsea.finn@temple.edu. 

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