Growing chrysanthemums for autumn
of autumn rum, raisin and berry colours, as contrasting forms create a firework effect; starbursts of grass seedheads spark brightly above a smouldering mass of asters, soaked and saturated with intense colour.
Salvias are stitched in, including Dr Ward’s own hot-pink Norwell. Vibrant salvias Embers Wish and Amistad, Dahlia Preference, Lobelia tupa and Rudbeckia triloba all jostle among the main body of daisies and tall, sulphur-yellow Helianthus Lemon Queen erupts at the back.
Dr Ward’s collection of 120-plus chrysanthemum varieties earns him recognition as a co-holder of a National Collection of the genus. His responsibility to curate and perpetuate specimens inclines him to alter his typical planting style. Chrysanthemums prevailing in the autumnal mixed borders are duplicated, untypically, in block-planted beds detached from the nursery in the adjacent Parish Gardens. The collection includes single, tonal and bi-colours across single, double and more exotic cacti forms, many of them available to purchase. Customers naïvely overlook the exciting new Polish introductions, unable to grasp their awkward names.
Dr Ward has bred and introduced his own chrysanthemums, his present interest focusing on creating compact, vintage-looking, resilient blooms. He rattles off the merits of his favourites, which include Capel Manor, bearing fascinating ‘quills’ in yellow. Ruby Mound is an easy-to-grow, saturated Dr Ward suggests: l Hardy chrysanthemums are truly hardy and easy to grow. Plant out pot-grown plants directly into the garden, from March to October
l Select varieties in colours to complement your autumn beds, making the most of chrysanthemums’ varied, floriferous and long-flowering properties
l Many hardy chrysanthemums are also scented; not just leafy green notes, but honeyed scents, which attract insects and bees preparing to over-winter
l Late-flowering single and semi-double flowered varieties such as Apollo, planted where they will be warmed by late sunshine, are the most effective nectar providers