Debbie Arrington

Seeds: Mums time in Sacramento, ready or not

Mums are the topic this weekend, as the Sacramento Chrysanthemum Society hosts its 68th annual show at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center in McKinley Park.
Mums are the topic this weekend, as the Sacramento Chrysanthemum Society hosts its 68th annual show at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center in McKinley Park. Bigstock

Mum’s the word at the top of the region’s November garden calendar.

For almost seven decades, Sacramento has celebrated chrysanthemums on the first weekend of November, no matter the weather or challenges. This weekend, the Sacramento Chrysanthemum Society hosts its 68th annual show at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center in McKinley Park.

This season has been particularly difficult for mums, said the club’s Martha Hackett, a longtime mum grower and flower show judge. She attributes their problems not to drought, but heat.

“The flowers look undersized and very tight,” she said. “They seem so droopy. It was because of the heat; too much at the wrong times. They hardly grew until July.”

Heat stress led to spider mite infestations, she added. As for drought, the mums could cope with less water.

“Heat is the problem, not water,” said Hackett, who grows hundreds of mums. “My water bill is only $29 a month. I hand-water them all.

“A lot of people over-water their mums,” she added. “They do need water, but they’re not hogs. Twice a week is a good rule of thumb. Some people tell me they water them every night; that’s not a good idea. That’s how people kill off their mums.”

Hackett just returned from Virginia where she judged the national mum show.

“They have no drought problem here,” she said with a laugh. “I can’t believe that show; it was the most spectacular I’ve ever seen.”

That made her own flowers look, well, a little puny, she noted.

“Most observers probably can’t tell the difference; they’re still beautiful flowers,” she said.

Even with the challenges, the Sacramento mum show should feature hundreds of blooms. Its theme is “Mums Around the World” with several arrangements translating that idea into flowers.

During the show, the club offers plants for sale in many popular varieties.

“I love Blushing Bride and King’s Choice,” Hackett said. “My very favorite is Resomee; it’s a beautiful lavender-pink decorative mum.

“But we have a mum for everyone,” she added. “The spider mums are always very popular. People even like the little ones.”

Big year for acorns?

Like other local gardeners with oaks, Tony Dewey of Auburn has been coping this fall with an overabundance of acorns.

“I know about ‘mast years’ for oak trees, but this year seems to be special,” Dewey said. “We have many blue oaks on our property and last year there were very few acorns. This year, however, the ground is carpeted with them. In the 15 years we have lived here, there have never been so many.”

Are all those acorns another byproduct of drought? Or can they be attributed to that unusually hot summer?

Dewey’s blue oaks may have been an exception, according to the experts at the Sacramento Tree Foundation.

“The regional acorn crop was average this year, perhaps another victim of the ongoing drought,” reported the foundation. “Drought has also decreased the availability of food for wildlife resulting in high demand from hungry critters for the acorns that have been dropping. Another possible factor affecting this year’s yield is that last year’s yield was high; anecdotal evidence suggests that high acorn years are typically followed by low acorn years.”

So the squirrels in Dewey’s neighborhood are lucky. And expect fewer acorns next year.

68th Sacramento

Chrysanthemum Show

Where: Shepard Garden and Arts Center, 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento

When: 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8

Admission: Free

Details: (916) 264-8800

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