Chrysanthemum and other autumnal lovelies at LanSu

During the month of November, LanSu—our wonderful Chinese garden— puts on a display of the culturally significant Chrysanthemums.  In China these marvels in all their configurations are known as one of the “Four Gentlemen of Flowers”, along with their brethren plum, orchid, and bamboo. More on the rather hokey albeit apt name “Mumvember” event here. (Trust me – a much nicer pastime than that silly name might indicate.) Of course the mums aren’t the only reason to visit. This time of year, the garden is ablaze in fantastic foliage color, and some trees and shrubs offer up colorful fruits. If it rains, you will get the additional benefit of sparkle – it’s just a gorgeous place to visit any time of year! But, as I took far too many photos of November’s glorious floral abundance, I felt compelled to split my photos up, and save some for another post. Don’t worry – there is enough here to bore even the most ardent reader.

Persimmon tree

I think this is the more astringent type of Persimmon than the one you can eat right off the tree. There is a way to dry these that will render them sweet and delicious. It’s a Japanese method called Hoshigaki which I wrote about here, if you’re curious.



This is a miniature Pomegranate, small enough to grow in a large pot. The blushing fruits stand out beautifully against the yellow fall foliage.

Camo bark

Should have paid closer attention to the ID of this tree. Its mottled bark looks stunning against the white stucco wall.

Crape myrtle trunk

This one I know. In my world, you can never go wrong with a Crape myrtle!


But, fab as it were, we weren’t here to look at fruit and bark. An abundance of mums were beckoning from the other side. This is such a sweet shot of my mum-in-law (sorry!) who accompanied me on this adventure. Nothing like flowers to bring out a smile!

Pink and coral mums and tree

There are apparently mums of all shapes, colors, and sizes. In that regard, they remind me of Dahlias.


Coral mum closeup

Such a scrumptious coral color!

Rusty and dark pink mums

These rusty ones were almost metallic!

Rusty mums

Rusty and green mums

I have a thing for green flowers. I always appreciate these. I like the size of them too – they are much smaller than most of the others.

Green mums

Creampuff mum

In contrast, this giant creampuff of a flower is a bit over the top. I do love the way its petals curve, though, and its octopus tentacles.

Purple mum

Pink mums

Per the LanSu event description, these flowers can come as: “…. spiders, quills, spoons, regular incurves, irregular incurves, reflexes, semi-doubles, anemones, brush, thistle, exotics…” Yup, I can totally see how one can get lost in Chrysanthemums. There were reportedly more than 75 varieties on display. I thought these pink ones looked so good against the blushing Nandina behind it.

Red mum

Such a great red!

Red-yellow mum

Love the curlicues on this one.

White mum arrangement

An arrangement of fluffy white mums in the first courtyard, as an indicator of what lays ahead.

Yellow mums in vase

Quite a bit sloppier arrangement than the white one, as these flowers seem just randomly stuck in the vase, but it caught my eye, and somehow I liked it.


A lovely bonsai was on display in one of the inner courtyards. This artform is so intriguing to me, but I’ve never tried my hand at it. I think I’m far too scatterbrained to be able to keep something like this alive—no less looking this good.

Wisteria bonsai whole

This one blew my mind! Knowing how huge Wisterias get, and how quickly they grow, I found the kind of discipline I imagine would be needed to keep something like this in check, mind-boggling.

Wisteria bonsai bottom

Just look at that impressive trunk!

Wisteria bonsai top

I just couldn’t get over the calligraphic quality of this form. Absolutely beautiful – like one of those ancient Chinese ink brush paintings.

I will let that fabulous piece of living art end this part, and also end this year’s Thanksgiving weekend. Hope you all had a good one. More to come!



About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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18 Responses to Chrysanthemum and other autumnal lovelies at LanSu

  1. Brennie lee says:

    Oh my. I am converted. These mum are fabulous – so many colours and so many shapes. The”living art” shot….sublime. Thanks for sharing

    • annamadeit says:

      You’re welcome, Brennie! Maybe, if you’re nearby, you can catch it next November? Well worth your time – especially if you manage to go during the Ninth Moon Floral Design Showcase. They coincide during the early part of the month. Sadly, we missed it this year, but it’s rather spectacular.

  2. janesmudgeegarden says:

    What a great post, so full of beautiful interestingly shaped and coloured flowers. But the wisteria bonsai is most interesting with its curvaceous shape. It takes a real talent to do that!

    • annamadeit says:

      Right? I found it quite astounding.

      • janesmudgeegarden says:

        Do you mean it’s cruel to twist a plant into such a shape and keep it in a tiny pot? You might be right about that!

        • annamadeit says:

          Haha – well, I was thinking of astounding as in astoundingly beautiful, but you do raise a good point. I’m sure no plant appreciates such treatment, but then — that is the nature of Bonsai, isn’t it? Raising perfect miniature plants by the process of stunting them.

  3. bergstromskan says:

    And the sweet smile of your mum-in-law fit right in.

  4. Tina says:

    Thank you for sharing LanSu–I always enjoy the visit!

  5. Kris P says:

    Wonderful photos! I have to get to that garden one day – it’s gorgeous. The mums you find for sale here are such pitiful specimens, I usually roll my eyes at the very mention of the genus but those on display at LanSu are in a whole different category.

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks Kris – I agree! You definitely should put it on your bucket list.
      It sounds like the average grocery store mum have the same effect on you as they do on me. I wonder why they don’t sell these kinds instead…

  6. The mums are nice, but I think the orange persimmons are more beautiful to my eye.

  7. tonytomeo says:

    The persimmon seems to be comparable to the Japanese cultivar ‘Hachiya’, which can be eaten off the tree, and is actually better if slightly frosted, but must be very ripe and squishy, like pudding. What a mess! ‘Hachiya’ is my favorite. I really do not know the Chinese cultivars thought. The tree with the mottled bark seems to be a London plan, Platanus X acerifolia, so is probably an Asian sycamore.

    • annamadeit says:

      Pretty sure you have to wait until Hachiyas are completely mush-ripe and maybe frost-nipped as you said, or they make your mouth shrivel up – they are so astringent. That’s what we used to make Hoshigaki. After that Hoshigaki process, they are excellent, though! A tasty right ‘off-the-tree’ variety is ‘Fuyu’. I just specified one of those for a client’s garden. They are so excited! 🙂

      • tonytomeo says:

        ‘Fuyu’ used to be the most popular cultivar here, and might still be. ‘Hachiya’ was typically planted with it as a pollinator. Some believe that the fruit is better with a pollinator. One of the trees I worked on a few years ago was a ‘Fuyu’ with a bit of ‘Hachiya’ grafted onto it as a pollinator.

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