2023 – CHW
Several house martins over the lawn and around the house today. About a week earlier than usual.
The final Michelia cutting yesterday afternoon before 12 hours of strong wind and rain overnight. We were lucky to get everything cut in the day.
Michelia maudiae with a gorgeous scent and silvery undersides to its leaves.
2022 – CHW
Rhododendron sutchuanense still in full flower six weeks later than normal as evidenced in this diary.
A one-hour webinar on magnolias for a gardening group or club based in Norfolk. 140 viewed the talk and, they hope, a further 700+ on YouTube. Ten minutes of magnolia chat, 35 minutes of a magnolia slideshow and 15 minutes of real magnolia flowers in front of the screen. Only two questions from participants so started at 7pm and finished at 8.10pm. A lot of work and effort to prepare. Quite draining especially as not being able to see any of the participants you have no idea if they are enjoying it or not. Feedback positive!
A visit to Trewithen to see the major new projects in the garden. A generational change and major revamp of the main garden, lakes, and farmyard / former nursery area.
The row of Ilex cyrtura are virtually leafless except at the very top of these 50-60ft trees.
2020 – CHW
A gentle, happy day planting out rhododendrons from Rookery Nursery Bed. Many scented ones and some species which mainly came here three to four years ago as small bare root plants from Glendoick nursery. The trouble with their mail order stuff is that you have to have the facilities to grow it on to a size where you can then plant them out. Even then you do lose quite a few. All are destined for the very best places in the garden. Scented rhodos are very short lived and need to be in total shelter where they can be seen usually by a path. Not easy to find space and the excellent plants of Rhododendron griffithianum and Rhododendron fortunei have to go to Old Park where there is still plenty of room for large growing rhodos to be planted 5m or so apart. The more obscure and new rhodo species (including Rhododendron yuefengense) will fill the space left in the old orchid house nursery.
The contractor who digs out dead stumps etc has turned up today as well with his mini digger so this part of the annual routine can be completed too. He may create some more planting spaces but we have now put out just about everything sizeable enough to go out already for this year.
I suppose the garden team ought to be growing vegetables but where? We have cancelled the work to clear the old kitchen garden this spring (sadly) and the new, adjacent, pheasant pen to save cash. However I suspect that with Pengelly Farms and Southern England Farms growing potatoes and veg on the estate we will not go short of either locally.
Lots more friends and acquaintances ring and email with good and sad news about their predicament. My daughter, Serena, was in isolation having been abroad recently but has now been ‘furloughed’ although, I suspect, still doing some work. John and Katie are holed up in Bristol and the grandchildren are enjoying having daddy home all the time but asking why they cannot come down here. The two cancelled weekend visits earlier in the year (mainly due to sickness by both in the car) now look a mistake.
Rhododendron suoilenhense just coming out.
It is getting very dry here now and we all need rain – especially the newly sown farm crops. Thomas and Fia Williams on a garden tour with their children Mia and Alfie. Tom and Fia will move into Werrington in the next year. A few gardening tips perhaps for management of the Chinese Garden at Werrington in the future. No doubt we will be competing against each other at the Cornwall Garden Society show at Wadebridge next weekend.Dad’s last (dark red) rhododendron hybrid. Sadly unnamed. I must look up the parentage or ask Jaimie. A Rhododendron griersonianum hybrid by the look of the leaf indumentum.
It is not an ‘April fool’! The magnolias are finally performing as expected after the first 30% were wiped out in the cold. Today the two Magnolia x veitchii ‘Peter Veitch’ are a stunning hundred foot high spectacle. The whole garden is shaking off ‘The Beast’ now rather quickly and there will be more for the Savill Garden show next weekend than I thought even 48 hours ago. It is still cold overnight but the forecasters were wrong about yet more snow here over the Easter weekend. The evergreen azaleas are just starting and might even make Chelsea in this now late season.White and pink forms of Rhododendron siderophyllum have ridden the frost well in several places.
2017 – CHW
A trip to look at more magnolias flowering for the first time but many distractions!
Rhododendron edgeworthii x leucaspis – the rhododendron season is rushing on and we rush to see it all properly!
Magnolia ‘Apollo’ – probably our largest plant of this in full display.
AND now to the closing meet of the Four Burrow Hunt at the beach. Saw the first house martin by the big tower at 7.15pm. A day or two earlier than last year on a sunny day with brief heavy showers.
Camellia x williamsii ‘Elsie Jury’ should be added to the list of genuinely excellent upright growing x williamsii varieties suitable for pots or growing as a hedge. That makes six photographed in the last few weeks or so.
I wait in vain for four hours for the visit of Ian Baldick, a renowned magnolia breeder from New Zealand, and a Dutch magnolia nurseryman who were due to arrive ‘soon after lunch’. No sign of them at 6pm and no phone call. Sadly half of planned garden visits at this time of year end up being hours of hanging around for people who are late! They eventually turn up at 9.50pm having inadvertently gone to Burncoose first! When do they eat ‘lunch’ in New Zealand?Lizzie has today had the original painting by Barbara Oozeerally which she gave us recently wonderfully framed. It is a life size Magnolia sprengeri Diva var Burncoose, accurate in every detail to the plant (52 years old) growing beside the conservatory at Burncoose and bred by Arnold Dance. A wonderful gift from a most remarkable magnolia artist. I doubt it will photograph properly but visitors can see it now on the castle tours (which I have to say are also a remarkable pain in the arse if you try to live and work amid them).
Jaimie, Michael and the team are off to stage our exhibits in the Cornwall Garden Society Spring Show at Boconnoc. One van breaks down on the way back which means a long day but Jaimie says the magnolia entries are ‘nothing special’ (apart from one I hope!).
Then Jim Pascoe, Chairman of the Fourburrow Hunt Supporters Committee, turns up to check out the dos and don’ts for tomorrow’s hunt meet at Porthluney beach. Do not go in the garden or Old Park we say (as usual) knowing not all the 100 or so riders will take any notice but there we are. It will be quite a spectacle for the unwitting garden visitors tomorrow and perhaps the New Zealanders too!
I saw the first house martin returning from Central Africa tonight on the lawn. A few days earlier than some years. Lizzie saw a kingfisher on the watermeadows yesterday and heard a skylark on Tuesday. Spring is here!
2015 – CHW
Planting of the new fernery goes well in Cheshire despite a strong gale. 11 specimen tree ferns planted in specially prepared stone troughs in part of a quarry alongside a dozen other varieties of fern, some evergreen and some deciduous. The fernery now requires water to trickle down through it to create the damp microclimate they all need but this is being sorted by a Dutch expert in water features who comes from Norfolk. Further planting of specimen trees and hamamelis along the entrance drive but all placed out by 12pm leaving James and his team to complete the planting before the bank holiday weekend.
1997 – FJW
Very fine Easter spell – Magnolias have been excellent but over.
1995 – FJW
Magnolias past their best – evergreen azaleas progress – camellia very good.
1990 – FJW
Very dry, very warm March. All deciduous Magnolias out at once – brozzoni, campbellii.
1973 – FJW
1 flower still on lapageria.
1972 – FJW
1970 – FJW
Snow – enough to whiten the ground – taking down Diva, Diva seedling in O.P, white Robusta, dark red Pieris and Charles Michael.
1960 – FJW
First cuttings taken out of electric frame – 57 Cam ‘Caerhays’ out of 52 put in. Some roots 15” long after 8 months.
1947 – CW
(Typed postcard attached to Garden Book page)
Award of Merit given to Camellia ‘St Ewe’ by R.H.S.
1941 – CW
The big storm of March 31st took down the Macrocarpa in cutting and several trees below drive and end of Old Park.
1933 – JCW
The daffs have never been better. Camellia speciosa most blooms of any plant. Magnolia sargentii is the best of all the magnolias open.
1931 – JCW
Daffs about their best. Magnolia’s speciosa, stellata and kobus open. Kobus is the best excepting Wilson’s big Denudata.
(Handwritten note attached to Garden Book page)
About March 1st, 1 Cam speciosa to P.D.W; 15 Cam speciosa to Michael, Caerhays; 5 to G.H.J.
28362 Mulinensis, 28365 Pulchella; 28366 Brevifolia; 28524 Meconopsis horridula; Gentiana nigescens.
1912 – JCW
An Auklandii flower open, nearly a record.
1899 – JCW
Narcissus Plemp open and 131.