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A lifelong love of mums

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Choosing mums

Mums are classified by their flower forms, which are just as varied as their colors.

Daisy types resemble their namesake; delicate and lacy spiders have those long, tightly curved petals with hooked tips so popular in Oriental art; and spoons look just like your imagination dictates – rolled petals that are flattened at the tips.

Decorative types have overlapping petals, or rays, that either curve upward (incurve) creating a round ball or bend downward (reflex) and look something like a flattened ball. The pompons (not pompoms), have a globe-shaped head with short petals, of which the smaller varieties are called buttons.

Neighbors in the old Chicago neighborhood where I grew up each had their specialty.

My grandma adored the spoons, while my mom stuck with the more traditional decorative types. The elderly gentleman two houses down had the greatest collection of spiders, while the genteel lady on the corner hovered over her large incurve mums like a mother hen over her chicks.

Blossoms were shared, and there were always vases in our house filled with the neighbors’ prized offerings.

During my college days, mums were synonymous with football games. Coeds (gee, do we even use this term anymore?) pinned on giant yellow or white “football” mums (our corner lady’s incurve bloomers) primped with the school’s initials emblazed in blue and orange pipe cleaners smushed in the center of the blossom.

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