Walking into Hicks Nurseries in Westbury, Priscila Kimlingen was greeted with a rainbow of colors and the light smell of chrysanthemums during the 58th Long Island Chrysanthemum Society Show.
“We have never seen these kinds of shapes,” said Kimlingen, 75, of Garden City, who often goes to The New York Botanical Garden to view chrysanthemums, but visited the Long Island show for the first time this year.
The more than 60 chrysanthemums on display were judged by officials trained by the National Chrysanthemum Society.
“Judges look for conformity to bloom form,” said John Capobianco, 48, of Farmingdale, the treasurer of the Long Island Chrysanthemum Society. “They are judged on cleanliness, color, absence of damage, clarity, size and freshness.”
Sunday will be the final day of the show and plants will be on display from noon to 5 p.m.
“It is wonderful to win ribbons,” said Renu Sharma, 62, of North Hills, who won several blue ribbons. “One bloom takes five to six months, and they require a lot of care. You have to just shade them for two months. That is why our society is so small, people don’t have time.”
Manipulation by the gardener affects the size and shape of the plant. Gardeners can create mums with large flowers that stand alone or mums that cascade over the ground with hundreds of tiny flowers.
“These are the queen of the fall flower,” said Capobianco. “Most Long Islanders are used to three pots of these for $10 outside of Waldbaum’s. They rarely see ones this beautiful.”
Internationally, the flower holds national significance in Japan and is revered on National Chrysanthemum Day. In the United States, they are a popular fall flower.
“What really makes mums special to me is their versatility,” said Capobianco, who’s been growing them for more than 20 years.
There are 13 different categories of mums according to the National Chrysanthemum Society that vary in the flower’s petal shapes and length.
“I am just awed at the shapes and beauty,” said Kimlingen. “We will absolutely come back next year.”