Posted by: jeannineatkins | November 18, 2009

Bamboo and Blossoms: The Fall Chrysanthemum Show at Smith College

It’s truly mid-November in Massachusetts. Not long ago you could count on seeing a heroic Maple still with yellow leaves, but after a few rainstorms, most leaf-bearing trees are bare. It’s best to focus on the shapes of trunks and branches, which of course can be beautiful, like the dramatically slanting light. The fallen leaves open up views of distant hills and mountains, and brooks previously hidden by bushes. With less foliage in the way, we get to see brilliant pink and red sunsets breaking through cold sky.

But the world can seem a bit too gray. Yesterday my friend Sue and I walked through Smith College to the Botanic Gardens for a show of chrysanthemums and bamboo sculptures. Some flowers hung in cascades.

Students of East Asian Languages and Literature apparently look at the connections between poetry and plants, and select poems to be displayed among the flowers. (We missed the poetry reading, where chrysanthemum tea was served.). Is it the fleetingness of these flowers, and of so much in fall, that inspires poetry, my friend Sue wondered. Trying to capture something swiftly with a handful of words?

Horticulture students have worked on hybrids since the early 1900s, and visitors get to vote on their favorites of the year. You can visit the Chrysanthemum Hall of Fame on the web:

Sue wondered what happens to the bees when the show goes down.

When we left the greenhouse, I saw I’d been wrong about all yellow having left trees. Here’s a gingko tree going strong for over 100 years (love those campus trees with tags). I wish my camera could catch the brilliance.



  1. Lovely photos! Sigh. Thanks for brightening up my day!

  2. Oh, my, absolutely SPLENDID!!! Thank you.

  3. beautiful pix. A symphony of color!

  4. I agree, it’s looking more wintery every day. But I’m glad I got to share those bare branches with you today.
    (A Chrysanthemum Hall of Fame — really and truly?! That’s nifty.)

  5. Ah, thanks for the beautiful photos!
    And isn’t it funny, I was noticing the yellow ginko leaves scattered across our greenway this morning while walking the dog. Almost makes me feel like we walked similar paths!

  6. Thanks, Jama. The colors aren’t as bright as real life, and no fragrance, but I’m glad you have a good imagination.

  7. It was hard to vote for a winner — best white variety, best set of colors on petals, best sprawly sort… but how cool for one grad each year to put her hall of fame hybrid on her resume!

  8. Glad to walk a path with you. I usually only see the ginkos on or around the campuses, where the trees are extraordinary. I love those leaves.

  9. Chrysanthemums
    Somehow I didn’t make it to Smith this fall, but I did visit the New York Botanic Garden and saw their amazing KIKU exhibit. Chrysanthemum cascades and more! Roses, too, but that was in the Rose Garden. Pix on my blog.

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