Erin Benzakein and her family have an organic flower farm in Washington’s Skagit Valley, and as a farmer-florist, she is extraordinarily particular about the flowers she grows. Looking for more fall options, she was delighted to discover the amazing choices in the chrysanthemum family.

But don’t mistake her flowers for your run-of-the-mill garden mums. She’s enamored with varieties of chrysanthemums that lend themselves to surprise, flowers so elegant and aesthetically unusual that they beg a closer look. “The varieties that we’re growing for cut flowers can be several feet tall,” she says. “They have this rainbow of color, and then there’s the shapes—the fluted petals, the big quilly ones, the spiders. No one would guess that they’re chrysanthemums.”



CUT THE FLOWERS when they are half to two-thirds of the way open, and then remove any foliage that will fall below the water line in a vase.

INSPECT THE PETALS for damage or hidden bugs and remove them.

PAIR MUMS with other late-season garden materials such as fall leaves, crabapples on the branch, ornamental cabbage, dried grains, and dahlias.

EXPECT MUMS TO LAST a long time in the vase, often more than two weeks. Add floral preservative to the water to help the cut blooms retain their vibrant coloring and also extend the vase life even longer.

By Julie Cole Miller | Photos by Joy Prouty


Mums the Word

For farmer and florist Erin Benzakein of Floret Flowers in Washington, elegant varieties of chrysanthemums are stealing fall’s show