A filthy morning with Storm Gerrit passing through. No major damage.
In early August we applied for an award from the International Camellia Society for the 1897-1902 planted Historic Ornamental Camellia sasanqua trees growing along the side of the castle. We have now just heard from Stephen Utick in Australia that the award has been agreed and will be announced in 2024 followed by a formal presentation of this award at the March 2025 ICS Congress in Tokyo. My second lifetime trip to Tokyo?
The torrential rain about 10 days ago has seriously damaged the tarmac and the road at Herraswater. The stream runs under the road but was blocked for several days and the water ran across the road. I wonder how long the council will take to repair it? I would not be surprised if the road is now closed for months and months. Certainly dangerous to any driver who was unaware of the problem in the next flood. Subsequently, and to my surprise, I was quite wrong and the council acted just before Christmas to make the necessary repairs.
Hedychium densiflorum ‘Assam Orange’ slightly frosted and now the stems break off from the rhizomes at ground level.
This elderly Rhododendron weyrichii fell over and was cut back and propped up. It is reshooting surprisingly well but, then again, most deciduous species usually do.
Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ has been attacked by birds seeking the nectar at the base of its flowers. Nevertheless plenty of decent flowers left and a really good Christmas plant.
First flowers on an ancient Prunus autumnalis towards 4-in-Hand which I notice accidentally.
This Camellia sasanqua ‘Narumigata’ was smashed off at ground level in a gale but has regrown perfectly well after only 3 or 4 years.
The first Narcissus flowers by the Dining Room.
Camellia x vernalis ‘Dawn’ (‘Ginryu’) at its very best and undamaged by rain, wind or frost.
2022 – CHW
Looking at John Marston monthly December video from his garden at Gorwell near Barnstaple I was struck by how far ahead of him we are here. He showed sasanqua ‘Hugh Evans’ (long over) and (just starting) sasanqua ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ which were out here in late October. Also, today, I inspected over evergreen Euonymus myrianthus. John’s was covered in yellowy-orange seed pods showing real seeds. Ours dropped long ago. His Schefflera delavayi still in flower. Ours now with ripe seeds.
Having said all that I was surprised at how few camellias have burst into flower in the mild winter. Less than usual by Christmas but we did have the first December cold snap here for a decade or so.
A load of new magnolias (50 or so) and other varieties from my ‘wish list’ have arrived from and via Burncoose. Few are large enough to plant out yet and will have to go to the greenhouse frames for repotting and growing on.
Three years after pruning a Hydrangea on the Main Ride still with little leaf drop.
Another hard pruned clump of Rhododendron ‘Michael’s Pride’. The second time that has been pruned in its lifetime. Planted in the late 1960’s.
Rosa roxburghii also gets is second pollarding – planted around 2000.
Camellia x williamsii ‘J.C. Williams’ has soon recovered from the frost by Tin Garden.
The last of the leylandii in Kennel Close has gone! Plenty of new planting places here when the stumps are also removed. The fire was still going despite it being at least 4 days old and after all the torrential rain.
2021 – CHW
So what can we now find out in flower on a drab and wet Boxing Day.The first flower now open (was not yesterday) on Camellia x williamsii ‘Rosemary Williams’. About on a par with recent years.
Last few white flowers on one of the ancient Camellia sasanqua – later than normal.
Loads of fuchsias still with flowers and some leaves reflecting no frosts at all so far here.
The first flowers out on one of the Daphne bholua. Slug damage sadly.
Three named forms of Magnolia grandiflora on the top wall (out of the seven different varieties there) are in flower today:
‘D. D. Blanchard’ – loads of flowers and developing seed heads
The original and ancient Camellia sasanqua ‘Narumigata’ on the top wall is nearly over. Petals all over under the tree.
Hydrangea anomala ssp. anomala (HWJK 2065) is still fully leaved or nearly so.
The original and very old (and much pruned) Mahonia japonica below the playhouse is coming into flower a little later than usual I suspect. A lovely delicate pale yellow.
First few flowers on the forsythia which I pruned back hard for a video a year or so ago.
2020 – CHW
Gales on the way and already milder and overcast. The water meadows are finally free of flooding for the moment.New growth emerging early on the semi evergreen Pseudocydonia sinensis as it usually does. First few flowers and one large fruit on this 15 to 20 year old large shrub earlier in the year.
An emerging new flower on Hydrangea ‘Ayesha’. Not bad for Boxing Day.
The carpenters are putting up the upstairs internal walls and wall insulation at The Hovel. First fix electrics starting to be installed. Quite a bit of rainwater has (as expected) washed into the downstairs but the concrete floors are all in and no real harm done.
A flower on a young Camellia x williamsii ‘George Blandford’ above the Hovel.
Also the first flower that I have seen this year on any of the Camellia x williamsii ‘Debbie’. Wind blown open here.
The vast clump of Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ growing below the drive on Bond Street. In the teeth of the wind this lot have been out for nearly five weeks already.
Daphne bholua ‘Gurkha’ just coming out. No scent as yet.
Fresh new growth on Verbena bonariensis and signs of new flower buds.
Attached are a few pictures of the sadly missing grandchildren and John & Katie taken yesterday in Bristol lockdown. We may not have missed the mess in the aftermath but Christmas Day was strange and unreal on our own here yesterday. Today is no better!
2019 – CHW
This semi-evergreen (perhaps) Sorbus with distinct bark is 20ft in height with a similar spread and has been plastered in berries for weeks. Clearly the pheasants/birds do not like them. It was a Werrington plant which we collected seed from 40 odd years ago and planted three (now one left) above the drive. Sadly the name is lost to me. Could it be Sorbus fansipanensis? This is however a fairly recent UK introduction and, on looking it up, the leaves are totally different to this plant as are the berries.After more research I think it may actually be Cotoneaster glabratus which grows to this sort of height and is evergreen. Several other cotoneaster species have berries which are still untouched in the garden (eg Cotoneaster franchetii).
On reflection I think this was the conclusion to the same query in this diary a year or three ago. A Google check confirms that it is C. glabratus and this makes sense since it was a Wilson 1906 introduction and could well have been growing at Werrington.
I see that we planted a young plant of C. glabratus in the new Beatrice Fleur plantation below White Stiles in late October but it is currently leafless as a young plant.
Another wander about later in the day to help dissipate the effects of a very good lunch at Burncoose yesterday.Azalea ‘Greenway’ with quite a few pale flowers above the greenhouse. Secondary flowers.
A few rather insipid flowers emerging on Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’. It was late last year too but is normally on time.
The elderly and nearly dead (after 20 to 25 years) Daphne bholua above the greenhouse just showing colour.
Camellia x williamsii ‘John Pickthorn’ with a flower or two in the frames. Part of the soon to be planted FJW memorial garden at Tin Garden.
Likewise a Camellia x williamsii ‘Carlolyn Williams’. Not a fully representative flower I think under cover.
Also a Camellia x williamsii ‘Caerhays’. I checked today and still no flowers on either of the original plants in the garden.
Berberidopsis beckleri finally with flowers properly out for the first time. In maturity they are light pinkish red with white blotching when ready to drop. I am not sure if December flowering is normal for this rare species which is evergreen but seems not to like the cold winds. Leaf blotching but nothing serious.
Camellia x williamsii ‘Hiraethlyn’ which is pale pink in bud opening white with a pink tinge. I do not remember this 1950s bred plant growing here before but may well be wrong. Must ask Jaimie. It is not in the Burncoose catalogue today but this looks like Burncoose propagation so it may be in 2020?
2018 – CHW
What do we find out on Boxing Day?
Lapageria rosea ‘Flesh Pink’ still has three flowers months after flowering began.
Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postil’ is suddenly full out and scent to dream about by the side door. A plant which I believed dead last March in the cold when it was leafless.
The pheasant tail and holly wreath at the front door.
Azalea stenopetalum ‘Linearifolium’ with its first flowers in the Rockery.
The first snowdrop flower partly eaten by a pheasant or a mouse? Ten days early perhaps.
A primrose similarly devoured by something.
Wild daffodils almost with flower buds showing. Only a few days away.
A young Azalea ‘Kirin’ with its hose-in-hose flowers full out on a young plant.
A paler form of Rhododendron mucronulatum full out and looking wonderful on the drive by the fernery.
Buddleia farreri (apparently now crispa var. farreri) which is supposed to flower in April is in full bud and well out today. This plant has grown enormously since it was planted in the spring with several other species of buddleia. Well worth Asia propagating this attractive rarity.
The first (Spanish) bluebells well out of the ground already.
2017 – CHW
A few oddments for a brief Boxing Day maraud (entirely sober!).Quercus dentata ‘Karl Ferris Miller’ with all its old leaves intact as usual. It looks rather sinister today.
Magnolia rostrata has just shed its leaves. I thought earlier that there were no seeds set in the huge seed heads and this looks correct. Some are now black and rotten on the tree but one had blown down and appears seedless and un-swollen. Squirrels I fear but they would have been disappointed!
Plenty of leaf still green on a young Magnolia dealbata – again as usual in a mild winter.
Rot at the base of the oldest Quercus acuta but still a huge tree with much alive at the top. Nothing much to do except let nature gradually take its course. Many of our original evergreen oaks seem to live only circa 100 years.
Nice new 2017 layers on some long forgotten plants of Rhododendron auklandii (now Rhododendron griffithianum). Wonderful peeling back too. There was a huge clump in the Auklandii Garden flattened in a whirlwind in 1976.
2016 – CHW
An elderly survivor from JCW’s cherry collection still grows above the Four in Hand. Prunus autumnalis is not a large tree but, as is typical, its branches have cankerous growths which make them appear somewhat monstrous and matted. The flowers are sparse and not very noticeable but this is an 80 year old cherry at least. Most of what is sold today are the more impressive pink flowering form which would probably have been out several weeks before.
We have looked at this Eupatorium ligustrinum plant on Bond Street in October when it was in flower and attracting butterflies. Today the back half of the plant is still in full flower which is odd. Quite attractive but no butterflies around today!
Two small and newly planted Rhododendron mucronulatum on the drive by the fernery are coming into flower. The flowers will be much paler than the original by The Rockery.
This plant of Rhododendron ‘Royal Flush’ (pale creamy yellow) is plastered with a crop of seedheads which may well kill the plant. They are not yet ripe and certainly worth Asia collecting shortly. Weak hybrids such as this have short lives because they grossly overflower (in this case in July) and then weaken themselves by overseeding and use all their energy to procreate.
The Fuchsia exorticatica outside the front door is again out for Christmas. This New Zealand species flowers on bare stems through well into leaf. You too can check the diary but I think I last photographed flowers here in April this year. The pinkish flowers are still half sized and without their full greenish-black-purple colouration when mature. They are also only half the size they will be in due course.
2015 – CHW
Boxing Day – still in bed and so also miss the family lunch. Christmas has totally passed me by this year. No comment necessary!
1991 – FJW
First flower on Gunroom door light Saluenensis.
1970 – FJW
First snow of winter and 8 degrees of frost.
1920 – JCW
Very little open because of the recent frost. Erica darleyense by far the best thin. Lapagerias and Cam sasanqua a few and odd bits of rhodo’s.
1917 – JCW
Mary, May, PM and I at Werrington for the third time and 41 children being very cold indeed. Here Mucronulatum and Hamamelis mollis are good.
1916 – JCW
Mary, May, PM and I at Werrington for the second time. The cold knocked all the flowers out at home but the first bud of Mucronulatum shows.
1915 – JCW
Mary, May, PM and I at Werrington for the first time.
1914 – JCW
All four boys away at the war. A few lapagerias and coums, a rose or two, and some flowers on one of the Thonsonii x Arboreum hybrids. This starts the rhodo season, though Nobleanum and Lutescens have been open for some time.
1913 – JCW
Many good roses, over 100 lapageria on the pillar plant. Clematis cirrhosa very good. Camellia sasanqua, some heaths nice. Sweet leaved geranium fairly good. C coum up. No daffs in flower. Solanum jasminoides very good. R nobleanum fair. No frost marks on the wall. Geraniums uncut.
1909 – JCW
A lot of frost in Nov and Dec, nothing much shows, but a few coums and lapageria and an odd rose. General Election.
1908 – JCW
Much as in 1907 but some bulbs are well on, from the 1 year old pans [?]. R nobleanum nice.
1907 – JCW
No frost yet, some gunnera have green leaves. C sasanqua moderate, a fair lot of roses, lapageria, and coums. Erica hardly open, geraniums fair, wall flowers starting.
1906 – JCW
Much as in 1905. Coums coming on. Cam sasanqua going over, has been very good. Roses some good yet snow but no real frost. Geraniums uncut.
1905 – JCW
Ericas open, C imperati just. Colour on the snowdrops. Frost and damp day stopped rose. Various Stylosa open, just a ting of colour. Lapagerias fair. Primroses moderate, a late year for them. C coum coming on well. Some aconite.
1898 – JCW
Crocus imperati open.
1897 – JCW
120 flowers open on the lapagerias. Charles saw the Lent Lilies breaking through the ground.
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