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Mum’s the Word

When UT Master Gardener Jeanne Cope opened an e-mail in January, she knew immediately what she wanted Jonesborough to look like when autumn rolled around.
“My friend Gail sent me an e-mail of the chrysanthemum festival in Lahr, Germany,” said Cope, a Jonesborough resident. “I pulled that thing up and it just knocked my socks off.”
Hanging from every surface in the town were cascading chrysanthemums in reds, yellows, oranges and a myriad of other colors.
“I set about researching where to get those mums,” Cope said. “The only place I could find them in the United States was in Oregon.”
Cope sought the help of Mike Garland, owner of Farm Direct Greenhouses on Highway 81 South, to continue her grand plan to adorn Tennessee’s Oldest Town in cascading mums just in time for the National Storytelling Festival this weekend.
“I got the cuttings from Oregon and we started them in their first little pots in June,” Garland said. “They don’t cascade on their own so you have to make them cascade.”
Garland and Phyllis Shull, an employee at the business, built trellises for each of the mums and worked daily to make the flowers cascade down them.
“You gotta have a technique when you tie them down. That’s the hardest part,” Shull said. “But it’s well worth it. They are going to be beautiful hanging up there in Jonesborough, especially with all the other flowers and fall decorations out.”
Nearly a dozen downtown merchants purchased cascading mums from Garland as well as the Town of Jonesborough, which bought 10 plants, to put on display starting this week.
And with the traditional annuals like geraniums and impatiens losing their luster in the world of home gardeners, Garland said he hopes this new mum will catch on.
“Nobody wants geraniums and impatiens anymore. They want something new and different – and something that comes back each year,” he said. “These come back and they are definitely new and different. There is nobody in the U.S. doing this. We’re trying to get something started here.”
Garland plans to start raising the cascading mums even earlier next year so they get even bigger by the time the National Storytelling Festival rolls around. He said he hopes to eventually see the whole downtown area completely covered in the unique fall flower.
“That’s the whole plan behind it,” Garland said. “It’ll make the town look really good.”