In compiling this page I've taken a look back over the last twenty years (1980 to 1999) to identify which cultivars have been most consistently exhibited at the same major UK Early Show. This makes interesting and perhaps for some growers, nostalgic, reading. The next step is a little more difficult - making a choice of which out of these 'best of breed' cultivars are my personal favourites, and then finally choosing the best overall.
For the purpose of this review Early Flowering and October flowering classifications have been grouped together.
Once again, this is purely a personal opinion - other growers would almost certainly choose different cultivars in each section. It would be interesting to hear the opinions and choices of other chrysanthemum growers.
Click on the thumbnail image to reveal a larger view of the winner in each section.
For me, the only real contenders in this section are Peter Rowe, Max Riley and Lorna Wood. Max Riley lived up to it's early promise as a consistent cultivar for exhibition purposes but it never seemed to make the grade in terms of Best in Show quality. More recently, Lorna Wood has become popular, but again Best in Show awards have been elusive. In my view Peter Rowe is the clear winner in this section, not only for it's consistency over 20 years but through it's ability to produce Silver Medal quality year after year.
Some real class in this section. Ever presents like the pure white Vanessa Lynn, although somewhat in decline over recent years, and the lovely pink cultivar Venice which was particularly popular in the early 80's. The relative newcomer is John Wingfield and sports, these cultivars have taken this section by storm and are regularly chosen as Best Vase in Show. For me it has to be John Wingfield, it's easy to grow, flexible in it's timing and stunning on the show bench.
A very diificult section from which to pick the outstanding cultivar. There is no cultivar that has lasted the pace over the 20 years under review. In the early years Gambit looked unbeatable but faded away in the late 80's. Apricot Courtier made considerable impact between '87 and '96 but has fallen behind Dorridge Crystal in recent years. Dorridge Crystal seems to be a cultivar that you either love or hate. Huge blooms but time consuming to dress and nearly always with depth in excess of breadth. No, for me it has to be Apricot Courtier, not the biggest of Large Reflexed but still a quality flower.
Not many cultivars to choose from in this section. For many years only Gingernut and Yellow Gingernut were the only two cultivars worth growing. The relatively brief popularity of Cornish was a welcome change - Cornish was a cream, open petalled intermediate whereas the Gingernuts are closer to the incurved type. Cornetto has had a meteroric rise to fame in this section, hardly looking back since first introduced in 1993. Very easy to grow, produces exhibition quality blooms consistently. Yellow Gingernut has been ever present in my growing plans since 1981 and I have a soft spot for this cultivar but on balance I think Cornetto has the edge.
A very consistent section over the last twenty years with one particular family standing head and shoulders above all others - the Chessingtons! The performance of Primrose Chessington has been outstanding, in only two years ('83 and '88) was another cultivar exhibited more times at the Early National, on both occassions this was the cultivar Bill Wade. On the sidelines we have the cultivar Lynn Johnson, a huge white flower only recently introduced and which may threaten the supremacy of Chessingtons in the futue. But right now, absolutely no doubt in my mind which one to choose in this section - Primrose Chessington.
How do you pick the best from the best? Personal favourite could be one method, statistically the most exhibited cultivar could be another. Consistency and quality could also be taken into consideration along with longevity. But if one cultivar could fulfil all of these qualities it would win hands down. Unfortunately for me it is not that easy. I can narrow things down to two cultivars - Primrose Chessington and John Wingfield, both exceptional cultivars in their respective section.
Primrose Chessington brings with it longevity and substantial popularity among exhibitors, consistency and quality are almost unsurpassed in the Large Intermediate section. John Wingfield on the other hand does not quite have the exhibition history of Primrose Chessington but nevertheless it was only in it's first year of introduction that it has not occupied top spot in the Medium Reflexed section. An impeccable performer by any standards.
It will be interesting to conduct a similar review in ten and then twenty years from now. One or two of our current favourites may still be around and be just as popular. But my choice is to be made today, based on cultivar performances over the last twenty years, and while this a very close run thing I think I will go for the Medium Reflexed -"John Wingfield"
If you would like further information or wish to comment on this publication please send your e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated on 20 December, 2001