Book Review - Hardy Garden Chrysanthemums by Judy Barker

I have mentioned previously that I am a member of the Hardy Plant Society and that I am privileged to be a member of their Board of Trustees.  One of that great things about this position is that I get to find out the new and exciting publications that are coming our way.  So when I heard that there was to be a book about Hardy Garden Chrysanthemums I kept an eye on the webpage to see when it was released and quickly bought my copy.  I renewed my membership at the same time (hint to other members….)
I have written recently that I went to a chrysanthemum day at a Norwell Nursery.  I mention in this post that I have a difficult relationship with these flowers as some I think are wonderful and others, well, shall we say not so.  This slim volume pack in a substantial amount of information.  There is a comprehensive history of this flower; which starts in 500 BC in China and tracing the journey until they arrive in UK in the 18th Century (we were a little behind the curve on this plant….).  However once they did arrive in the UK and Europe then the breeding and development of these plants began a new phase.  One of the things that this history tells us very clearly is how important National Collections of plants are and that we lose them at our peril.  

The book then goes on to talk us through the botany and classification of chrysanthemums.  They are make a complex group with several different forms and a wide colour range.  Hence the ability to have a difficult relationship with them, not all chrysanthemums are the same.

As you might expect, Judy talks us through growing them and how to propagate and then finishes the book with a directory of hardy garden chrysanthemums.  Judy is the co-holder along with Andrew Ward of Norwell Nurseries and Gary Leaver, Head Gardener at Hill Close Gardens, Warwick of the dispersed collection of hardy chrysanthemums.  This means that the directory is a very impressive piece of work.  It reads to me as a shopping list, but maybe that is just me……

It has, however, left one question unanswered for me.  For many years now I have been on a quest to find a chrysanthemum called ‘Alison Kirk’.  It is a white pom-pom exhibition variety (apparently).  There is one in the book called Alison and yes being a predictable soul I will track that one down for my garden.  But if any of you out there know where I can get hold of an Alison Kirk I would be very grateful.

If you are at all interested in this fascinating group of plants, do buy the Hardy Garden Chrysanthemums book, you won’t regret it.

Hardy Garden Chrysanthemums by Judy Barker is published by the Hardy Plant Society Printed by Tuddenham Press.  (£7.50 for non members, £5.50 for members)