Conservation Feature November 2019

Chrysanthemum ’E.H. Wilson’

One of the new introductions to the Conservation Scheme this year, suggested by Southern Counties Group following a recommendation from one of the National Collection Holders, is Chrysanthemum E.H. Wilson’. Although not as difficult to obtain as some of our conservation plants it has historic links with the HPS. The original plant was probably introduced by plant hunter Ernest Wilson when he was collecting for the Arnold Arboretum, but it is difficult to know when it arrived in Britain. It was evidently grown by Miss Pole, a key figure in the early days of the Hardy Plant Society, who helped to keep it in cultivation by giving plants to her gardening friends.

Plants bear multi-headed stems with a profusion of highly scented, single flowers. With cream petals that twist slightly and yellow centres the flowers contrast well with the slender dark stems. This is a plant that will grow in most gardens in full sun or part-shade, flowering in October and November and like most hardy garden chrysanthemums is fairly disease free.

Hardy chrysanthemums can be long-lived plants, but clumps can lose vigour so dividing every few years is recommended and this is best done in spring when plants are in active growth.   Propagation is best done by division or from softwood cuttings taken in spring.

To find out more about growing chrysanthemums there is information about their history and cultivation as well as a comprehensive directory of cultivars in the HPS booklet ‘Hardy Garden Chrysanthemums’ written by Judy Barker who holds part of the dispersed National Collection and has done extensive research on these plants. Booklets are available from the website – see ‘Publications
Thanks to Norwell Nurseries for the photograph; as co-holders of the National Collection they they have Chrysanthemum ’E.H.Wilson’ (other suppliers are listed in the RHS Plant Finder).

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