Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Ninth Moon Floral Design Showcase and Mumvember, Lan Su's annual celebration of the chrysanthemum

Last Friday I stopped by Portland's Lan Su Chinese Garden for the Ninth Moon Floral Showcase and the beginning of their Mumvember celebration.

Attending this event has become something of a tradition for me. I love seeing what the designers come up with for the floral competition. Then there's time spent swooning over and photographing the potted mums. It's fair to say this event taught me to appreciate the chrysanthemum. I'd always dismissed them as boring and old fashioned. So it is with a very heavy heart that I share this photo...

I do not know why, but this year's show is a mere shadow of prior years. Where as there are usually hundreds of potted chrysanthemums throughout the garden—all with plump, luxurious flowers—there were not nearly as many this year and the flowers were small in number and impact. There were also fewer floral displays. I wanted to ask the docents at the entrance what had happened, but they were deep in conversation with other guests and I never got the opportunity.

So, I powered on. Luckily there were a few interesting floral arrangements and a couple that really captured my attention. This one, by Linda Golaszewski, is called Hung Up. It was terribly hard to photograph, being in front of a window on a bright sunny (but chilly) day. I could only get a side shot...

It made me quite happy to see someone else using callistemon seed pods decoratively. I love them and think they're under appreciated.

Ditto for these little ferns, I've tucked them in small arrangements around the house and they always look great.

Next is Meteor's Path by Coree Ryan. Also impossible to photograph straight on, due to window glare. The balls (the meteor I assume) have a nice arc to their pathway.

And each one a wonderful dense ball of floral and foliage goodness.

The Rain, by Jeri Barr and Carolyn Catron. This creation had me smiling and happy. A display we were encouraged to walk into and touch. Fantastic!

There were multiple parasols throughout the display, this one the most ornate.

The one hanging at the top left was mossy with amaranth pieces dangling from the edges.

This one had what the makers called "rain flowers" hanging from it.

There was a sign with the display that said: Our hope is that you will interact with our floral art piece. Walk underneath. Gently touch. Create the sound of rain with the rain sticks. Blow on our "rain flowers." Enjoy, Jeri & Carolyn, Bella Bloom Florals.

And so I did. And boy did I get looks from some people who walked by and saw me in the display.

Well Jeri and Carolyn I very much appreciate your permission to interact with what you created.

I hope you had fun making it.

Moving on...this was one of the few massed displays of potted mums.

In all the years I've been coming to this event I've never seen the plants over in this part of the garden. Usually they're on the main pathways and near the entrance. It felt almost like they were hiding them.

I did find finally an angle where I could get a photo full of color.

This floral display is called The Chambered Soul, by Thomasi Boselawa. I love it, but maybe not for the reason the artist intended. It makes me think of a trip to a fancy, or maybe foreign, grocery store. The green wire bits look like produce baskets.

And the bright colorful fancy fruit and flowers keep the produce feel going, in my mind at least. Sorry Thomasi...

In previous years one of my favorite floral creations has been the simple one created by the Lan Su gardeners and tucked in somewhere around the garden. I suspect that's what this is, and I do love it.

Oh! More mums. These are displayed in front of the garden's tea house where I'd thought I might have lunch. That is until I heard the wait was almost an hour.

I snapped a couple of close-ups...

Here's the last arrangement I took photos of, I was really taken with it: Hou - Fire, by Tamara Szarowski and Kenzie Martin. Stare at these earth-tones and natural elements...

And trust
me when I
tell you
that you
are not going
to believe what
the rest of the
piece looks like...

Are you ready?

Okay, here's the top...

What the what? What on earth were they thinking? I stood there thinking it was crazy and the longer I looked at it the more I liked it. It's just so wacky!

So wacky.

Okay, let's visit a few of my favorite plants before we leave. The Rhododendron sinogrande is getting huge!

The Pyrrosia sheareri is always drool-worthy.

The Quercus dentata ‘Pinnatifida’ had already lost most all of its leaves, showing the bizarre structure of this odd oak.

Finally the persimmon, Diospyros kaki 'Hachiya'. It looks like the leaves may have been zapped by our cold temperatures but are still hanging on...

Weather Diary, Nov 4: Hi 54, Low 37/ Precip 0

All material © 2009-2019 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. I gasped and then I laughed out loud when I saw your photos of that wacky display. You gotta love someone with that kind of vision, and the guts to follow through on it. Those umbrellas looked like a lot of fun too. I have a hard time liking mums, they come much too late in the growing season for me.

    1. Oh mums as plants hold no interest for me, it's all about the cut flowers!

  2. Your coverage of this show has changed my view of chrysanthemums too, although I can't say that the very limited selection of plants available locally has led me to plant any in my garden (even if it were easier to get them through our hot, dry summers). I loved the meteor and rain flowers exhibits. The Fire exhibit was definitely surprising!

    1. Ya, planing them in my garden is not something I would consider doing, but buying them as cut flowers...yes!

  3. Isn't it swell when artists invite you to interract with their work? Looks like Dr. Seuss was busy designing that last one.

    1. I really wish there had been some sort of interpretive signage or an artists statement, so we would have known what they were thinking.

  4. My favorite was the wacky one. It appears to be a bonfire to me. Maybe a nod to all the big fires in CA. The umbrella one is nice too.

    1. You're right of course, it is a fire...so well done!

  5. I wonder if the box store mums have laid to rest any offerings of the varied flower types that used to be seen. Liked the use of finger lemons (?) in Chamber of Souls. Have heard of them but have never seen one especially in a flower arrangement. They look like giant yellow squids. Very creative.

    1. Giant yellow squids are what I will think of every time I see one of those now!

  6. The funny yellow fruit is a riot. I just happened to see it Uwajimaya, the Japanese grocery store in Seattle. They called it "Buddha's Hands".
    That last arrangement, although both halves are lovely, they don't seem to connect in style or temperament. I feel they would have benefited from being two separate displays. "Hung Up" was my favorite, both in overall shape and material used.

    1. That's why I couldn't help but think if a grocery store when I saw that display. Plus the green baskets and the bright colors.

  7. Who knows why these venues change? Could be crop failure, change in leadership, anything. But you did capture a few gems, I like the Meteor'sPath, the umbrellas and Hu - Fire looks like it comes from Whoville - very Dr. Suess!

    1. I kept expecting to see a sign about a catastrophe at their greenhouse that did in the mums, but no. Their website even talks about this year's display being bigger then ever.

  8. I can see why this has become a tradition for you--sorry to hear it wasn't as impressive as years past. This would be a presentation I'd enjoy seeing in person. Your photos are awesome, though, for those of us who can't visit--thanks for sharing! I really like "Hung Up" and "Meteor's Path."

    1. If you ever find yourself in Portland on the first weekend in November...

  9. i wonder if a staff member who did the work or was the idea person behind this event left and that's the reason for the change. Or maybe weather related. Loved the first few images, especially the umbrellas. That was a brilliant and beautifully done concept. I get the last one; the red being the flames. But the disparity between the logs and the fire is too great for me read the piece as one.


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