Friday, October 19, 2007

The Imperial Chrysanthemum

As a writer (tho I feel not an especially good one lately), I'm all about the stories. I'm a little jealous of friends and/or fellow bloggers who have plants which can tell stories of their pasts, plants which have been handed down through families and friends.

Here, however, is such a story. I am told that the chrysanthemum below is among the offspring of a chrysanthemum which served as the Imperial Crest of the Japanese Emperor Hirohito. For a time, it was grown exclusively in the Imperial Palace.

As the story goes, as the final days of World War II wound down with Japan's surrender, there was an American G.I. stationed at the palace, who was also a gardener. Before returning to the states, he collected a division from the palace garden and brought it home to his cottage in Chatham, where it thrived.

Last spring, the current tender of that cottage and garden brought me a division of the Imperial Chrysanthemum, as thanks for some work we did together. And today, it's blooming! Thanks, Chuck!!

I look forward to watching this plant grow over the years and providing more than this year's single blossom, though it is no less beautiful for its loneliness. I can't, however, begin to match the life it might've known in Japan.

For a little more about what its life might've been like, I turn your attention to the New York Botanical Garden, where the annual Kiku (Japanese chrysanthemum) show is poised to begin. There's a great video about the extreme techniques and care these plants receive throughout the year, to prepare them for a pretty incredible autumn display.

With so many scrub pines and oak trees on the Cape, our fall foliage viewing opportun ities are some what abbre viated, which may be why we begrudgingly (but cautiously) share our lives with the pretty poison ivy.

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