Sunday, September 9, 2012

Kiku Matsuri

Today, the ninth day of the ninth month, is, according to the traditional Japanese calendar, Kiku Matsuri, the fifth (Go, 五) and final of the Go-Sekku, or seasonal festivals (五節句): the Chrysanthemum Festival!

Remnants of time past, the Go-Sekku reflect a life lived according to the passage of seasons and the inexorable rhythmic cycle of birth-maturation-aging-death. These were agriculturally oriented festivals--markers in a passage of time that assured some regularity to our unpredictable lives--when farmers sought the good graces of the kami (gods) as some assurance for healthy, bountiful harvests.
Last year we visited the annual Longwood Gardens Autumn Festival which, for several weeks, includes a Chrysanthemum Festival inside the Conservatory. This year, the chrysanthemum portion of the seasonal celebration is scheduled from 27 October - 18 November.

Of course, this was a veritable treat for me. Kiku, meaning chrysanthemum yet a term that captures the art of that flower, were everywhere on display. Last year's visitors were greeted by a series of vaulted archways; the aroma of chrysanthemum proved a powerful, invigorating autumnal aphrodisiac that belied that rather warm and slightly humid mid-Atlantic November day.

Ozukuri--the thousand bloom chrysanthemum (on a single stem!)--deserves pride of place in any Kiku Matsuri, and Longwood did not disappoint.

The shield is another popular (and single-stemmed) design, achieved by grafting stems from different colored chrysanthemums onto one plant.

Cascading chrysanthemums are popular too, and simply must elicit that most basic of responses: wow.

 I saw on display a particular favorite: the Thistle Mum.

I found this brief video about Kiku Matsuri.  I am sure you will enjoy it.

To honor Kiku Matsuri, I did the obvious: I visited my favorite garden center and bought hybrid Japanese anemones. I'll save that story for another day....


  1. I love Japanese anemones! What's your favorite color? I am partial to the white ones... Also, what is your favorite garden center?

  2. Hello Christine! I, too, love white anemones (though my cat helped me water those over the summer, hence the need for new ones). The most recent purchases are pink: 3 of the Princess varietal (pale pink, single petal), and one with a mixed color flower: light pink to a very dark pink, single petal). I'll post photos when they shed their shyness and bloom! My favorite garden center is Old Country Gardens ( on Wilson Road in Wilmington. Thanks for reading!