It is with great sadness that Dansk Gartneri, the industry body for Danish ornamental horticulture, announces the sudden passing of its former president Kristian Madsen on 5 October 2022.
Kristian Madsen, who died of pneumonia at 70, was a recognisable figure at horticultural exhibitions as he toured the aisles in a black suit and top hat he wore at horticultural exhibitions. He said his outfit was in honour of his country’s famous poet and fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen, who became Madsen’s inspiration for Fairytale Flowers. Under this trademark, his company, Gartneriet PKM, markets four flagship products: Campanula, Lavandula, Rhipsalidopsis, and Schlumbergera.
Madsen took his early education at one of the country’s horticultural schools, after which he briefly travelled the world, working at several horticultural companies in Norway, Germany, New Zealand, and the United States.
In 1983, he joined the plant nursery his parents, Poul and Marie Madsen had founded in 1948. The company changed its name to Poul & Kristian Madsens Gartneri ApS – Gartneriet PKM – and six years later, Kristian took over the company’s reins when his dad retired.
Madsen ran the nursery with great energy, ingenuity, and enthusiasm, allowing it to grow by leaps and bounds over the years. He created one of the country’s largest and most successful horticultural businesses and many good jobs on Funen Island.
The ‘Fairytale grower’ was constantly looking for ways to improve the industry. He was unorthodox as a grower and showed incredible courage. To solve industry issues he thoroughly searched for information and feedback. No one else dug deeper than he did and had a keen eye for product handling and development from an early age.
And he was happy to go to any lengths to optimise production methods and products using the latest technology. This led to many unique products that put Danish-grown Schlumbergera, Campanula and Christmas mini trees on the world map.
Madsen was a great connector. He was approachable, and easy to talk with. This allowed him to build relationships with his employees and industry peers worldwide.
Like his dad Poul, he built respect through trust. When he invited industry professionals to walk around his nursery, he used to greet all employees by their names. He had an excellent likeability factor which earned him the respect of his employees, customers, and suppliers at home and abroad.
Dansk Gartneri is the trade association for Danish horticulture, defending the political interests of its approximately 500 members. Dansk Gartneri is dedicated to unifying industry professionals through education, advocacy, marketing support, international cooperation and networking. In 2011, Dansk Gartneri elected Madsen as the industry body’s new president, putting industry issues straightforwardly and relentlessly on the political agenda.
Peter Larsen Ledet, acting director of Dansk Gartneri, Mikael Pederson, president of Dansk Gartneri and Jorgen Anderson, former president of Dansk Gartneri have fond memories of working with Madsen, who, they say, was also unorthodox as a ‘politician’. A no-vote was rarely accepted – it just triggered even more fighting spirit. After a short time, all politicians at Christiansborg knew Madsen: The grower from Funen who fought for a reduction in the high PSO taxes – and ultimately succeeded.
His finest hour was ten years ago when 12 MPs joined forces on stage to sing happy (60th) birthday to him.
Another highlight was the celebration of125 years of Dansk Gartneri.
Madsen’s industry advocacy was unstoppable. Even after 2014, when he had a severe accident, using all his efforts in the interest of the horticultural sector until September 2015.
Madsen was also a man who put family first no matter what life offered.
Kristian is survived by his wife, Anett, son Poul and three stepsons.