Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mum's the Word...

By: Casey Calhoun, White House Organic Gardener
From: The White House Gardener Mysteries by Dorothy St. James

A hard and fast rule of working at the White House is that you don't talk about what you see or hear within the hallways. The First Family deserves their privacy. AND on any given day, a staff member might overhear a piece of a conversation that is classified and of the highest concern to national security.

Everyone who works behind the scenes at the White House, regardless of party affiliation, is a patriot. We wouldn't want to do something that could put our nation at risk.


So don't even ask me what shocking revelations I recently learned about the President's Chief of Staff or the President's Communication Director. (You'll have to read The Scarlet Pepper to get all those juicy details.)

But I CAN tell you about the mums that are painting the landscape. It's fall! And the mums are in full bloom in many of the White House gardens, defining the edges of some gardens.

 And creating a colorful carpet in other gardens.
Although these colorful perennials may not be exotic or rare, they are plants any gardener can depend on.

Here's some tips to remember when growing mums (garden chrysanthemums)
1. Plant in full sun and well-drained soils.
2. Water deeply whenever soil is dry.
3. Divide every three years.
4. Mulch with straw to protect from frost during the cold winter months.

Next time you see mum growing in the garden, think of me, Casey Calhoun, toiling in the White House gardens and remember...Mum's the Word!

* * * * * * *
Dorothy St. James writes the White House Gardener Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Flowerbed of State is the first book in the series. Be sure to grab your copy while they're still available! Visit with Dorothy on the web or at Facebook. Or follow her onTwitter.

"Credible characters, a fast-paced plot, and a light look at political life in Washington, D.C., will delight cozy fans." ~ Publishers Weekly
Order Flowerbed of State from your favorite bookseller. 

Praise for The Scarlet Pepper:
"Itching to get out there and dig in the dirt, but don’t quite have the energy to pull yourself up off the couch?  Read The Scarlet Pepper by Dorothy St. James.  It’s a heckuva whodunit, and it’s practically gardening via proxy – what better compromise could you hope to find?" ~ The Season Blog

"A potboiler of homicide, blackmail, journalism, power and sex - but one that St. James handles with taste as well as verve - “The Scarlet Pepper” fulfills the promise of last year’s series debut, “Flowerbed of State,” and then some." ~ Richmond Times-Dispatch 
 Order The Scarlet Pepper from your favorite bookseller.

Coming April 2013:


  1. My mums are straggly and not glorious like yours. How do you accomplish all those flowers on one plant?

  2. I just love mums...and there are so many varieties! I must remember to plant the gorgeous ones I bought in pots this fall. Thanks for the tips.

  3. Opal, it's important to feed the mums. Feed them every 3-4 weeks until the buds appear, and you'll get more blooms. To keep them from getting leggy, pinch the tops off to keep them about 6 inches high. You can pinch them when you feed them, every 3-4 weeks. Stop pinching them in July to let the buds set. (Or you can buy pretty ones from the garden center. They transplant well, even when in full bloom.) Happy gardening!

  4. I miss having mums... I'll have to get some potted ones this fall and plant them out!

  5. How beautiful! But, Casey -- surely you can share a teensy, tiny rumor or two with us. We won't blab!

    ~ Krista

  6. I could tell you, Krista, but then someone from the Secret Service would have to kill you. (KIDDING!) Let's just say some on the staff just might have a wandering eye...and people around here are starting to notice. Thank you for stopping by, everyone!