Chrysanthemum

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Jools Gilson pursues chrysanthemums, through memories of her grandfather Bill Bowman.

Gorgeous, medicinal and edible, Chrysanthemums come with whole worlds in their blossoms. Jools Gilson pursues these remarkable plants from her Grandad's garden in the 1930s to the latest National Chrysanthemum Show in Stafford. Along the way, she visits championship grower Ivor Mace's greenhouse in the Rhondda Valley and sips chrysanthemum tea ceremoniously in London.

What is it that drives people to tend their chrysanthemums as if they were newborn babies? And what is the connection between these floral shenanigans and the chrysanthemums used as ancient Chinese herbal remedies for calming itchy eyes and lowering blood pressure?

Jools returns to her roots, to ask her aunties how her Grandfather found time to grow something just because it was beautiful - between factory shifts, growing vegetables and trapping rabbits to feed his ten children.

What blossoms is a story of survival, and the pursuit of perfection.

Producer: Adam Fowler

A Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.