That’s what the National Trust for Historic Preservation will be getting in Buffalo this week when they roll in for their annual conference. That is, if the sight of thousands of red mums planted in selected Olmsted parks can be considered a luxurious welcome. I suspect most of these attendees will have their eyes trained on manmade wonders—about which I feel much more confident.
There were a few funny comments about this on one of the local blogs, like “Let's just hope we don't get another Madonna incident where it turns out somebody ‘loathes red mums.’” Another reader thought that the city should “be focused on pleasing the residents first and foremost,” not just when visitors arrive.
I wouldn’t say that I loathe red or any other color mums, but I do dislike these plants. The form and foliage of the common annual mums—such as those being planted in Buff—are stiff and unappealing. And let’s not forget their rather unpleasant scent.
This is not totally about aesthetics, though. I love zinnias and dahlias, which have similar flower forms to the superior mum varieties and don’t smell much better. What bothers me most about these plants is that they suddenly appear for sale everywhere in early September and by November they’re done—not that you’d want to linger outside to enjoy them anyway. It’s hard to think of any other plant that has such a short, depressing life cycle. I have plenty of annuals in my garden now that still look as good as—or better than—when I planted them in May. A geranium, for example, gives a far more enduring performance, with handsome foliage and a pleasant scent thrown in for free.
Still, anything en masse can look impressive—I’ll have to make a site visit to our new red carpet, and see if I can get a better shot than the one I’m using here (which I think is a stock photo). Before they’re all soggy and brown.