GARDENING YEARS ago, there was real rivalry between the dahlia grower and chrysanthemum cultivator over which was best.
Of course, no-one can ever answer that sort of question. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I have proof positive the dahlia is definitely on top in Holland, which we best associate with tulip fields.
Well, the Dutch are also huge dahlia producers and they need to be, having seen the photographs sent to me by Tina Parsonage to brighten my day.
They sat, cheek by jowl, with an e-mail from specialist supplier Woolmans, which has just produced its new catalogue.
The stars within it are six hardy chrysanthemums making their debuts.
All six cultivars have been trialled by the Royal Horticultural Society for the past three years to assess their hardiness and ability to cope with British winters.
Last year, all six did particularly well on Woolmans’ Holbeach, Lincolnshire, trial ground despite an unfavour-able summer and autumn and its open, horribly exposed aspect.
If they survive up there, they would thrive down here.
The company feels the six — pink Rosetta, White Gloss, cerise Jessie Cooper, orange Peggy, Early Yellow and scarlet Brennpunkt — offer great value to gardeners, flowering in borders from late August through to the first frosts of winter.
All six are 'spray’ types, growing from 60cm to 90cm (2ft to 3ft), and with a well-branched habit, which produces plenty of blooms both for garden display and for cutting.
"They established rapidly at Holbeach, soon made plenty of growth and both the flowers and foliage were remarkably resilient to the Lincolnshire gales," reported the company’s John Woolman.
"They are really tough customers and will perform well in just about any garden."
Also new for 2013 from Woolmans is a collection of six greenhouse double bloom chrysanthemums, all selected for their floriferousness (good word, that), sturdy flower stems and robust habit.
It means they make good cut flowers with a long vase life
Woolmans is at www.woolmans.com or 0845 658 9137.
But, whatever the Spalding brigade does, it won’t be able to compete with what Tina sent me.
It is not strictly gardening but I’m sure you will appreciate, as I did, the eight million dahlia blooms, which make up the rival floats in this carnival spectacular, which makes what we do on this carnival isle look pretty puny.
What began in 1936 as a flower parade in Zundert in the Netherlands is now Bloemencorso — a work of obsessional brilliance produced in a town smaller than Newport.
A mother tiger and her cubs, a brilliant cow, meercats, giraffes, an antelope fleeing the clutches of a leopard and a swirling shoal of fish were included last year,
Each of the competing districts of Zundert — which was the home of Vincent Van Gogh — construct their own entry and compete in the parade, which occurs every first Sunday in September.
• For more information and photos, log on to www.bloemencorsozundert.nl/