11th December

FJ Williams Profile Picture
FJW 1955-2007
CH Williams Profile Picture
CHW 2015-
JC Williams Profile Picture
JCW 1897-1939
C Williams Profile Picture
CW 1940-1955

2017 – CHW

Planting the Isla Rose Plantation

After a weekend of torrential rain and snow up country it was not perhaps the ideal day to start the Isla Rose planting project. However the only spare date in the diary before Christmas necessitated action on a bitterly cold but sunny morning. Autumn planting is always desirable when planting trees as their roots can take hold over winter and produce better new growth in the spring more quickly.

The plants assembled have come from three main sources. Burncoose Nurseries have supplied the majority of the original planting plan leaving aside, for the moment, the more tender subjects which will go in in the spring. Over the last year we have been assembling here from gifts, purchases and our own propagation a number of very rare and choice plants to enhance the overall themes of the planting plan and especially to give colour and interest right through the year. A combination of colour, fruiting trees and shrubs and new plants for the Caerhays collection. Finally we recently had delivered a special order from Crug Farm nurseries of some of their new and unique wild collected species from Asia.

The Isla Rose Plantation will be viewed from the bank and path above as well as coming up the drive from Porthluney Beach and from the front door of the castle. Big imposing new magnolias, new cherries and malus for impact from a distance are one theme. Another is for the fruiting blueberries, raspberries, currants and crab apples to provide scope for Isla Rose herself to develop an interest in gardening and the fun of it all. The hope is that she and visitors will move on to enjoy some of the less floriferous but extremely rare plants in the two acre clearing which is today being replanted.

The first load of plants from Burncoose arrives on site. A small pile as yet for a huge area.

first load of plants
first load of plants
We firstly position six rare new conifers to break up the easterly wind which will make the site cold in the early spring. Here a Prince Albert’s Yew (Saxegothaea conspicua) to give shelter one day from the east.
Prince Albert’s Yew
Prince Albert’s Yew
The reinforcements to the windbreak above the path are now in place. A row of Quercus ilex which will have copper beech planted alternately between them in due course.
Quercus ilex
Quercus ilex
The second load of magnolias and other varieties arrives from the greenhouse.
second load
second load
second load
second load
We then make a start by selecting the best magnolias for the most prominent and visible planting spots.
selecting the best magnolias
selecting the best magnolias
Then we separate the two loads out into specific piles of different plants and start placing out at the top end of the site.
we separate the two loads
we separate the two loads
we separate the two loads
we separate the two loads
The third load from the greenhouse has two extremely prickly climbing roses to grow up the pollarded yew tree. Jaimie has to cut himself free.
prickly climbing roses
prickly climbing roses
prickly climbing roses
prickly climbing roses
prickly climbing roses
prickly climbing roses
Now we have everything ready to make a start.
everything ready
everything ready
everything ready
everything ready
But there are still some huge bare root shrubs from Crug Farm to get in place. They have been heeled in for 10 days on site. The Sorbus ullungdongensis is about 12ft tall but still with a decent root system. We cannot face taking it too far – just down the hill in fact. Whether it will reshoot without a hard pruning is doubtful but will have to wait until spring.
huge bare root shrubs from Crug Farm
huge bare root shrubs from Crug Farm
huge bare root shrubs from Crug Farm
huge bare root shrubs from Crug Farm
Sorbus ullungdongensis
Sorbus ullungdongensis
The four varieties of flowering malus (crab apple) go together at the top end about 12 meters apart. Also one Crataegus ‘Crimson Cloud’ which is a spectacular new introduction.
four varieties of flowering malus
four varieties of flowering malus
four varieties of flowering malus
four varieties of flowering malus
four varieties of flowering malus
four varieties of flowering malus
Then another batch of magnolias with all the later flowering and smaller growing varieties at the bottom end nearest the path.
another batch of magnolias
another batch of magnolias
another batch of magnolias
another batch of magnolias
Then the Matsumae cherries and some clumps of three birches planted close together to get the best bark effect.
Matsumae cherries and some clumps of three birches
Matsumae cherries and some clumps of three birches
Matsumae cherries and some clumps of three birches
Matsumae cherries and some clumps of three birches
Then on to the fruiting shrubs at the bottom end of the clearing where the new plaque will go and two seats to admire the view over Porthluney Cove. Three varieties of fruiting blueberries here (vaccinum).
fruiting shrubs
fruiting shrubs
Just the aroma and currants to go in now with a few lotus trees which will hopefully produce edible fruit occasionally in this hot spot.
aroma and currants to go in now with a few lotus trees
aroma and currants to go in now with a few lotus trees
Nearest the Jacobean watch tower will be the spot for the palms, agaves and beschorneria. A bit more sheltered here.
the spot for the palms, agaves and beschorneria
the spot for the palms, agaves and beschorneria
the spot for the palms, agaves and beschorneria
the spot for the palms, agaves and beschorneria
The rest of the fruiting and clump forming shrubs will go behind the Ilex platyphylla hedge. This is a wonderful coastal windbreak which salt laden gales scarcely touch and which we already use to good effect in the Rookery nearest the sea.
Ilex platyphylla hedge
Ilex platyphylla hedge
More sorting and sifting of rare acers, tetracentron, styrax and two huge growing pterocarya.
acers, tetracentron, styrax and two huge growing pterocarya
acers, tetracentron, styrax and two huge growing pterocarya
After crib time the stakes, tree guards and rabbit netting surrounds arrive which all plants will need initially for rabbit and wind protection.
stakes, tree guards and rabbit netting
stakes, tree guards and rabbit netting
stakes, tree guards and rabbit netting
stakes, tree guards and rabbit netting
A bit of respacing before actual planting where we have got it wrong initially. That is why you need to place everything out on a site like this before actually planting anything. You have to think of ultimate height, colour matches, gaps for viewing the bay, speed of development, complementary species and any ‘sacrifice’ plants which will be cut down in 10 or 15 years after they have done their job in breaking down wind. You seldom get it all right on the first or second attempt and not everyone’s ideas always concur!
respacing before actual planting
respacing before actual planting
respacing before actual planting
respacing before actual planting
The birches go in in ‘threes’. These two clumps are from the best bark birches at Werrington. Quick growing and they should not mind the cold.
birches
birches
birches
birches
Starting to fill up!
Starting to fill up!
Starting to fill up!
Starting to fill up!
Starting to fill up!
The currants go in. Ribes longiracemosa and Ribes odoratum.
Ribes longiracemosa and Ribes odoratum
Ribes longiracemosa and Ribes odoratum
Getting there but still plenty of room for infilling yet. Some Rhododendron yakusimanum hybrids which will take the cold are yet to be brought up from the yard. More rhododendrons and azaleas to infill later as well between the trees.
still plenty of room for infilling
still plenty of room for infilling
still plenty of room for infilling
still plenty of room for infilling
The final touches for today are some evergreen osmanthus species planted in threes and fives to give early spring colour and break the wind up. Not exciting plants but they have a job to do if we can keep the deer off them. Roe deer particularly like this sort of evergreen.
evergreen osmanthus species
evergreen osmanthus species
evergreen osmanthus species
evergreen osmanthus species
The team insist on a final photograph. Placing out took the four of us about three hours and all the plants were in the ground by 4.30pm at close of play. It will take the team at least a couple of days to rabbit wire and stake the whole lot.
The team insist on a final photograph
The team insist on a final photograph

Despite thinking that we had too many plants for the area at the outset it is now pretty clear that we will have plenty more to add and infill in February/March when the weather may be more suitable for planting. No room for more trees but plenty of room for more shrubs. Since there is such a slope on the site it drained off fairly well in the sun today and planting in freshly turned over soil is quite quick and easy.

Jaimie’s picture of the plants in the ground

Jaimie’s picture of the plants in the ground
Jaimie’s picture of the plants in the ground
Michael will now finalise the numbered planting plan which has turned out (as it always does) to be a bit different from my initial sketches and thoughts. Edwina can then perhaps get it onto a proper chart so we can laminate this and put it by the plaque.

2016 – CHW
The Magnolia Society International journal has just been published and includes the registration of another two of our Caerhays hybrids.

2015 – CHW
The last Cornwall Farmers board meeting today (and audit committee) under the old regime! Countrywide bought the business for £6.05 million in September but the rump of Cornwall Farmers still owns the freehold of the stores so we will receive a good rent (monthly!) and become a property company.

I have now run 43 days shooting this season and we are, at last, past the half way mark in number of days shooting. Lizzie, Edwina and I can begin to relish the prospect of normal hours from 1st February without an early bed and a 6am rise. Such are the realities of castle life and how in the in the fuck I manage to try to entertain you with the odd flower or two defies normal stamina and liver function. I could reflect on some ‘difficult’ shooting days here with clients but that is for the (personal until I am dead) Game Book which is an entirely separate diary about a very separate way of life. No less stimulating in many ways but it is NOT flicking the pages of Country Life in bed with Mrs W for a ‘longish’ morning! ‘Fight to win’ perhaps but I just wish for a week with no staff problems or rows (three this week) which take up most of the surplus (little) time. On we go! Sorry no pictures today.

1995 – FJW
3 flowers out on pale gunroom Saluenensis, 4 or 5 on Cam J.C.W and 2 flowers ½ open on Magnolia Star Wars.

1934 – JCW
A coolish rain for 24 hours, some Camellia sasanqua in bloom. E.P.R’s quarry a few Prunus blooming. I have put 150 smallish to large tree ferns in the near big quarry.

1932 – JCW
Prunus subhirtella open but smothered in withered bloom just as in 1931 for almost everything. A violent cold east wind for about 10 days. Some fuchsias hold on.

1931 – JCW
Early Subhirtella cherry in the quarry, it has been out for 3 weeks. A few Sasanquas have flowers and now some Rho lutescens. Cotoneaster salicifolia has a fine lot of fruit. Erica hybrida in bud and quite nice.

1911 – JCW
Camellia sasanqua are all over, it has been a very early year. Clematis cirrhosa is about the only thing opening, some roses keep on.