On 18 September the Abbots Langley Gardening Society were entertained by John Marshall, an expert on growing and showing Chrysanthemums.  He has been the chairman of the High Wycombe Chrysanthemum Society for the past 14 years and has shown his flowers at the national shows for over 20 years.


He starts the growing season by thoroughly cleaning his greenhouse and soaking the support canes in Jeyes fluid. This, he said, helps prevent the spread of viruses.

He over-winters the previous summer’s plant roots (stools) in the greenhouse and starts to introduce heat (7°C) and water in January to promote new growth from the roots.  It is possible to divide the old roots to generate new plants but he prefers to take (basal) cuttings from the old roots as they produce a stronger plant.


In mid-February he breaks off the cuttings (as a knife may spread viruses) and plants in a mix of compost, peat and silver sand.  He avoids using council composts (from the recycling plant) as composting does not remove weed killer on the composted plants.  The cuttings root in about three weeks.


As he is growing plants for showing at exhibitions (including Chelsea) he removes side shoots and older blooms to get a consistent size and quality of bloom; this is called disbudding.  This will be done in April or June depending on whether they are September or November flowering plants.  John brought along a wide range of cut blooms to show the variety of colour and form.


Chrysanthemums are hardy or half hardy perennials ranging in size from 4” to 5’ according to variety.  For those who just want colour in the autumn, plant out in the borders late April/early May in a sunny aspect.


Abbots Langley Gardening Society honey from our own bees is available for sale at our meetings too while stock lasts.


The next gardening society talk is by Kate Harwood, of the Hertfordshire Garden Trust, and she will be explaining where our garden plants come from, starting with the Romans importing plants from their empire.  This is at Manor House Sports and Social Club, Gallows Hill Lane on 16 October at 7.30pm.


Jo Bromwich