As gardens fade into their autumn drabness, chrysanthemums come into their own, Shirley Hill says.

"This time of year belongs to the chrysies."

They'll be the star turns at the Autumn Flower Show in Whanganui this weekend. It is at the Wanganui Intermediate School Hall, and open to the public from 1pm-5pm on Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sunday.

As well as chrysanthemums, there will be vegetables, pot plants, cut flowers and floral arrangements by children and adults.


But it is the chrysanthemums that are likely to dominate, with their many shapes and colours.

Mrs Hill will enter at least five single blooms from her Castlecliff garden.

She fell in love with the flowers after seeing them at the annual show in the Whanganui War Memorial Centre 20 years ago.

"I went along to a show and I was hooked as soon as I saw them. A lot of people are like that. I just liked the flowers - the colour, size, form. There's so many different shapes and sizes."

Her favourites are pink and medium sized, with anemone centres or with petals that form a ball or turn down at the ends.

Some growers specialise in flowers with enormous heads that win at shows - she says men are especially good at that.

Palmerston North's Tom Mechen was an expert chrysanthemum breeder, and even had one of his flowers depicted on a New Zealand stamp. He was a frequent winner at the Whanganui show but died late last year.

He's likely to be remembered at this weekend's show. Mrs Hill expects to see a new chrysanthemum there that has been named in his honour. She said Whanganui and Palmerston North growers all had fond memories of Mr Mechen.

"He achieved so much, but he was very quiet about it. He was just a nice man, and so talented."