In recent years, the Chrysanthemum trial at Wisley has been updated. And the way in which it’s been updated may seem surprising: more older varieties are being included. The reason for this is that the trial tended to focus on the latest varieties, but many older varieties of hardy garden chrysanths have become very popular, after a long period of relative neglect.
So old Korean and Rubellum chrysanths are now being trialed and assessed, in particular, for how they perform grown naturally as hardy perennials for use in herbaceous and mixed borders - without the disbudding technique that exhibitors use. Newer varieties in this old style are also being included.
Last year five of these hardy traditional varieties gained Awards of Garden Merit. Judy Barker, holder of the National Collection of Korean, Rubellum and hardy spray chrysanthemums, is one of the assessment panel that judged these chrysanths, she told me about the hardiest of the AGM winners.
‘Aunt Millicent’ “Single flowers in very light pink fading to white, flowering in October forming a much branched dome. Found in an old garden in Kent.”
‘Carmine Blush’ “A lovely much branched dome of late flowering mauve-pink single flowers. A very tough plant giving a flush of weather resistant flowers at a time when most of the garden is finishing.”
‘Grandchild’ “Neat cushion of shocking pink double flowers flowering Sept-Oct. Imported from Minnesota in the 1980s.”
‘Nell Gwynn’ (top, click to enlarge) “The reason the committee liked this plant was the length of flowering time, from July-October. The single pink flowers tend to fade somewhat in strong sunshine but the colour deepens with lower temperatures. As it has a distinctive primrose yellow ring this could be picked up with companion planting.”
‘Perry’s Peach’ (left, click to enlarge) “Single peachy flowers. Found in an old garden in Whitby in 1980 but without a name, so named by Perry’s Plants and sold from their nursery. They have it running around their border shrubs.”
For more on these chrysanthemums, check out Judy Barker’s excellent National Collection website.