Students Create Chrysanthemum that Wins Chelsea Flower Show Medal

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By Jill Brooke

To get students interested in botany, a program organized by English journalist and garden promoter Peter Seabrook, reaped awards at the Chelsea Flower Show. 

He sponsored a group of scholars at Pershore High School o grow and nurture a new British-bred chrysanthemum series developed by Kerley & Co. called “Poppins.”

Their exhibit won second prize at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show with the flower being cited for both color and the abundance it grows.

The students at Pershore High School were supplied with 1,200 Poppins plants which they potted at school and nurtured at home during their summer break, bringing them back into school in time for the Chelsea display. Their young plug plants were supplied free of charge by Earley Ornamentals of Thirsk, a large propagator of young plants for professional growers.  Some of the pupils were given the privilege to see their plants blooming on the exhibit, accompanied by their teaching staff. Other pupils at the school grew ‘Poppins Autumn Bronze’ as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award Challenge,  

Its admirers including His Royal Highness Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex and world fans who were charmed by the back story. 

‘Poppins’ patio ’mums come in a range of contrasting colors, flowering naturally in September. (Show was in September vs. May this year for the first time).  Their compact habit suits them to mixed container plantings – consumers just ‘Poppin’ a plant – and they also thrive at the front of flower borders.  Developed by David Kerley, they grow quickly and eliminate the need for dwarfing chemicals (widely used on chrysanthemums) and sprays for white rust disease. Further labor savings come from the natural branching habit, avoiding pinching. 

“The silver medal was a Floral Award for an exhibit in the Great Pavilion,” says David Kerley, who has an Engish family flower-breeding business know for growing novel special flowers used often in patios.

Says Kerley proudly, ”Poppins patio ‘mums were developed for ease of growing – these high school pupils have proved it.”

Hopefully, more schools will adopt these programs as the benefits of gardening and botany root around the world. 

Chrysanthemums are definitely having a moment. The flower just won at the Society of American Florists as the best flower for 2021, for the first time in over a hundred years.

Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD and floral editor for aspire design and home magazine

Photo Credit; Arthur Edwards/The Sun

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