18th February

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
Jaimie and I take a day out to visit Tuckermarsh Plants near Gunnislake but in Devon. Mark Fillan showed us around what is quite a small but interesting nursery which Roy Lancaster wrote up recently. This is very near Champernowne Nursery so that is how deliveries to Burncoose could be made.Clare needs to get in touch to consider an order this spring. He has plenty of stock of :Beschorneria septentrionalis – a Mexican species with dark green leaves which will tolerate full shade and dry soil. 2L

Beschorneria septentrionalis
Beschorneria septentrionalis
Fatsia polycarpa – 3L. This particular clone was found by Edward Needham formerly of Tregye. It has especially narrow leaflets on its finely cut leaves. Very nice flower too and totally unlike Fatsia japonica.
Fatsia polycarpa
Fatsia polycarpa
Fatsia polycarpa
Fatsia polycarpa

Dasilioron mequeriomexensis – looks like a puya.

Dasilioron mequeriomexensis
Dasilioron mequeriomexensis
These would be available to us at trade prices.
Coming on for the future is a large batch of Mahonia bealei ‘Cornish Silver’. This too originated from a Needham introduction. One stock plant was in full flower. Orangy-yellow!
Mahonia bealei ‘Cornish Silver’
Mahonia bealei ‘Cornish Silver’
Mahonia bealei ‘Cornish Silver’
Mahonia bealei ‘Cornish Silver’

Also Mahonia gracillipes x fortunei.

Mahonia gracillipes x fortunei
Mahonia gracillipes x fortunei

I think both of these would be well worth reserving as new plants for 2018.Also of interest for the future might well be some of the shrubby Mexican dahlia species which Mark is growing from seed. Some are conservatory plants and some are not. They all flower very late in the year and some still had a few leaves:

Dahlia australisDahlia dissecta

Dahlia rupicola

Other novelties which we saw included:

Clethra luzmariae (similar to Clethra pringleyi but a suckering dense shrub)

Clethra luzmariae
Clethra luzmariae
Aucuba confertiflora – which we lost at Caerhays in the cold in 2012
Aucuba confertiflora
Aucuba confertiflora
Arbutus canariensis – tender
Arbutus canariensis
Arbutus canariensis
Arbutus canariensis
Arbutus canariensis
Mahonia russellii – a tender Mexican species which will not cross with the Chinese ones
Mahonia russellii
Mahonia russellii
Mahonia russellii
Mahonia russellii
Mahonia hartwegii – a Roy Lancaster introduction from which Mark has made jam from the fruits
Mahonia hartwegii
Mahonia hartwegii
Mahonia hartwegii
Mahonia hartwegii
Mahonia hartwegii
Mahonia hartwegii

Then an hour’s frustration with satnav trying to find Roundabarrow nurseries which was just the other side of Gunnislake (the Cornish side) but through a council estate and up a long track to the hilltop. One of the most difficult places to find that I have ever encountered.Roundabarrow grows seed and cuttings largely to order from wild seed collectors and notable gardens. Their main customer is Nick Macer at Pan Global Plants and much of their production is solely for them. The trade lists which we see are much more limited.

A large new multispan tunnel contains so many rare novelties that it was hard to know where to start looking in their ‘sweetshop’.

We need to ask now for the supply of:

Daphne bholua varieties – several

Dichroa cynea

Dichroa cynea
Dichroa cynea
Dichroa gzum
Dichroa gzum
Dichroa gzum
Dichroa gzum
Dichroa gzum

Schefflera delavayi – plenty ready in 3L in six weeksEucryphia ‘Dwarf’ – a tiny shrub of unknown origin

Eucryphia ‘Dwarf’
Eucryphia ‘Dwarf’
Eucryphia ‘Dwarf’
Eucryphia ‘Dwarf’
Eucryphia ‘Dumpling’ – a bit like Eucryphia milliganii
Eucryphia ‘Dumpling’
Eucryphia ‘Dumpling’
Eucryphia ‘Dumpling’
Eucryphia ‘Dumpling’
Salvia daubneyi (spelling?) – tall growing and still in flower
Salvia daubneyi
Salvia daubneyi

There were hundreds of schefflera seedlings growing on which would be ready for 2018 and should be reserved now. The new popularity of schefflera needs responding to in our catalogue then:Schefflera brevipediocarpa

Schefflera rhododendrifolia

There were other varieties/species too.

We took away a few plants which will be added to the bill for our next delivery:

Carpinus omiense

Carpinus fargesiana

Quercus bushii ‘Seattle Trident’

Pittosporum parviculum

We plan to invite Paul Adcock to Caerhays in mid May to collect rare enkianthus cuttings and to have a go at michelias too. Also our evergreen Carpinus kawakamii. Also in the autumn to collect magnolia and other seed. We need to get more onto the Roundabarrow bandwagon for the future. A very tidy and well run operation.

Our magnolia scions had all been grafted. He still has some stock for us of Magnolia ‘Caerhays Splendour’ (smallish still) and ‘Delia Williams’ (add five to our order).

Attended the Trewithen Nurseries closing down sale with Andrew and Justin. A huge crowd of upcountry nurserymen and hundreds of the public which meant the 600 lots took six hours to sell and prices were ‘reasonable’ without being daft either way. Heligan were big buyers so we had to bide our time. Not how we would have lotted up and laid out an auction!

I managed to buy 48 trays (x20 plants) of deciduous azalea liners for £350. It would have cost £1,600-1,700 to buy these from a liner nursery so a bargain. Also 60 odd Crinodendron patagua for £90 and 200 good agapanthus liners for £190 (in the car park Justin resold 40 for £80).

Surprisingly prices did not drop off towards the end and we only bought a few of the 2L camellias which looked good and none of the rather tatty scented rhododendrons.

Two van loads for Justin to take away. Total purchases circa £1,200. A tiring day as you have to really concentrate to bid at a trade auction like this. The auctioneer knocked down a lot of rubus to me which I did not bid on and I suspect no one else did either but at £25 for 20 who cared?

Amusing to watch other estate owners pay way over the odds for some things they could have bought for cheaper at any wholesale nursery. Five hundred tiny 4-6’’ one litre griselinia liners for £500. Later lots of three litre 3ft plus griselinia made only £2.30 each. Twenty truly awful Magnolia ‘Yellow Lantern’ for £200. Suckers and sales – that is why you have them!

2016 – CHW
BBC Spotlight local news want to do a TV piece here today. Hope the weather is better than yesterday’s solid rain until lunchtime but now mild again. In fact we have had a bit of a frost again but only at the bottom of the valley.Today I found the first snakebark maple in full leaf above the nerine bed. It will not be long before we find a six week early sycamore in leaf too. Just a bit more sun would do it and I am keeping my eye on the bluebells too. The same applies.

Magnolia ‘F J Williams’ has escaped the frost in the Auklandii Garden but is still far from being full out which is just as well.
Magnolia ‘F J Williams’
Magnolia ‘F J Williams’
Magnolia zenii had a flower out about a month ago but has not moved on to being full out yet. More windblown than sap rising I suspect although I saw colour like this too at Burncoose on the plant on the lawn.
Magnolia zenii
Magnolia zenii
Myrtus lechleriana is full out and even dropping its flowers by Orchid House Nursery and at Burncoose. We have often had this on our Chelsea stand in late May. Saw it full out at Trewithen a fortnight ago too. It has a fairly nasty scent close up but not too bad at a distance.
Myrtus lechleriana
Myrtus lechleriana
Myrtus lechleriana
Myrtus lechleriana

The Magnolia ‘Delia Williams’ on the lawn which had a few flowers out has been clobbered by the frost. Perhaps the majority of the flowers still in bud will be fine? Two and a half hours with a BBC Spotlight TV presenter and cameraman to film two minutes for a news item on the Historic Houses Association award and early magnolias here. Michael Levett also filmed and also did a piece for Radio Cornwall hopefully about our being open from next Monday.

It amazes me that TV interviewers turn up totally unbriefed on the story. A quick look at our website or a look at the Historic Houses Association / Christie’s press release (which the producers must have seen to have initiated the article) you might have thought? Even our own PR people might have done a briefing but, no, it is all noddy land and start from scratch. ‘What is a magnolia?’, ‘when do people come to your gardens?’ – when they are open you idiot! So two hours of tedium and fannying about, then there is a shower and, finally, we do the whole bloody interview word perfect with no retakes in two minutes!

The cameraman does his best to avoid pictures of magnolia trees and my attempt to get a magnolia flower to the Plymouth studio is ‘too difficult’ while the presenter says ‘have you ever been filmed for TV before?’ I resisted the temptation to tell her where to put it or that I was on Westcountry TV only last week! Dad would definitely have called her a silly b…. and walked away but I managed not to. I did however manage a quip about her (pink) jacket being a revolting colour compared to a magnolia which I doubt they will use live. My dog ‘Rio’ was in the clip also looking bored and fed up.

While they buggered about I took a few shots of Magnolia campbellii full out.
Magnolia campbellii
Magnolia campbellii
Magnolia campbellii
Magnolia campbellii
Magnolia campbellii
Magnolia campbellii


2002 – FJW
Flower on big pink Campbellii.

1978 – FJW
Worst gale of century so far. Auklandii Garden nearly flattened.

(Additional handwritten note attached to Garden Diary page for Feb 18th)
Winter 1977/1978
Winter started mild but wet. Then on Feb 18 came the blizzard in Devon and the start of a month of gales at Caerhays. Feb 18th was the worst day.

1. Auklandii Garden: 2 Turkey oaks, 1 Abies, 1 Oak, 1 Plagianthus betulinus, (knocked down Mag hypoluca, tripetella, 2 soulangeana, + auklandii.

2. 5 Beeches, Ashes etc in Rookery.

3. Ash by Rookery Gate.

4. Big Insignis near Rookery Gate – knocked out R Cuneatum.

5. Beech above Veitchii + 3 poplars (Retic seedlings)

6. Crassum and Bo Peep nearly blown out of ground.

7. Slip Rail Insignis + Oak (this happened in March) knocked down Mrs Butler and shaved white Campbellii.

8. Beech below path.

9. 4-5 Elms by Rogers Quarry.

10. Big Fir by Tin Garden (knocked down best Salicifolia)

11. Tall Oak shaved best Delavayi group.

12. Q laurifolius in Ririei Opening.

13. 1 Insignis near Bramble Field Gate (earlier than Feb 18).

14. Big Beech, just missed Higher Quarry Nursery.

15. Small Fern Quarry enveloped by a Beech and 1 other.

Damage very considerable – Thank goodness for Power Driven Saws.

1969 – FJW
Strong East wind.

1963 – FJW
Snow again (4th fall of winter).

1962 – FJW
One malformed flower on Doltsopa.

1958 – FJW
Colour on Campbellii.

1934 – JCW
Camellias are very nice in particular the shell pink crop. Most of the 1918 Rhodo’s are open.

1933 – JCW
Just as in 1919, just a few Camellia japonica open.

1919 – JCW
Wilson’s Cotoneaster salicifolia is most brilliant and Mr Ivey says it has been since Christmas. Moupinense, Sutchuenense, Barbatum, Arboreum hybrids, Erica darleyense are all very nice.

1918 – JCW
The following Rhodo’ species are open or show colour – Longistylum – Moupinense – Ciliatum – Sutchuenense – Keiskii – Arboreum – Lutescens – Pachypodum colour showing – Argenteum – Primulicuum – Cuneatum – Dahuricum – Dahuricum semperivens – Scabrifolium – Barbatum – Ririei – Oleifolium – Irroratum – Hookeri – Mariesii. Cerasus Conradinae and the Italian cherry very good.

1915 – JCW
About 15 species of Rhodo’ show flower Barbatum and Argenteum are really the best but R moupinense is very nice. Very few daffs of any kind, just a flower or two of P pissardi.

1911 – JCW
P pissardi opening much as in 1897, quite mild just now. White hoops are over, Lent Lilies, double yellow and Caerhays opening, Coums going back, some Barbatum out, others not, a good few Arboreum show colour, several Ciliatum.

1908 – JCW
Aconite at their best. Barbatum, Arb x Thom, Praecox all show colour, Coums very good, heaths are opening, no daffs to speak of but Cyclamineus.

1907 – JCW
None of the more important of the above are open. I send a bunch of Min x Cyc x to Rev Engelhart.

1906 – JCW
Well ahead of the above R shilsonii open, Anenome blanda, [?] some, several incomp seedlings.

1905 – JCW
P pissardi well out, many seedling trumpets and crocus, Coums very good, R praecox at its best, H Irving and Caerhays have some open, Tenby shows colour.

1901 – JCW
Nothing of the above except an odd white crocus.

1897 – JCW
Prunus pissardi opens, N maximus, Golden Spur, Cernuus, several trumpets at Tregony, white crocus here, nanus seedlings.

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