Whether you believe in climate change or not, the autumns here in the UK are staying milder for longer. Growing up in a Devon coastal resort, I remember we often had our first frosts early in November, but even living inland now, it can be a month later before the thermometer drops below zero overnight. This allows the later bloomers such as dahlias and chrysanthemums to continue their displays for several weeks, adding colour to a garden sinking into browns and greys.
One of the last to come into flower here is C. ‘Chelsea Physic Garden’, a plant up to three foot tall plant with double flowers, a dusky orange-red colour. Each petal is also bronze on the reverse.
Although a fairly upright plant, it does tend to flop (especially in wet periods) so some support will help. The foliage is said to take on bronze and deep red veining although my plant has yet to display this trait. Grow it in a warm, sunny position in a soil that is well-drained but holds on to enough moisture to keep the foliage buoyant. This is a very hardy variety, but the warm position is to encourage it to flower as it is such a late starter. But given reasonable weather, it will continue to Christmas and even beyond.
And the link to Chelsea Physic Garden? Well it has been grown there for many years but may not have originated there as they have no record of breeding it. Norwell Nurseries in Nottinghamshire, who have a good collection of hardy chrysanthemums, think it could be a variety named ‘Romany.”
Whatever the name, it is a good plant giving lots of colour so late in the season. I’d say it was well worth getting physical and planting one.