3rd January

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

2018 – CHW (photos to follow)

Just one flower on Camellia ‘Jovey Carlyon’ by Donkey Shoe. Rather yellow leaves in the sun here and a slightly drooping or floppy habit.

These two plants of Cephalotaxus fortunei were plastered in flower last spring. So much so that the branches gave off huge clouds of pollen dust. On passing I wondered if they were both now covered in flower heads or seeds. Looking closely it would seem to be new flower heads in profusion. I must assume that both the plants pictures with admittedly rather different growth habits are both males? Hillier’s refer to female forms of this plum yew. A very odd but exciting plant.

Cupressus tortulosa is also covered in flower buds when you examine the twigs closely. Looks a rather tender and brittle evergreen.

Ilex kingiana has a full set of berries but, as usual, by no means are all of them ripe yet. They will all be a very bright red by March. This tree self seeds itself (via birds) here and there all over the garden.

The elderly quince tree below Slip Rail has a few early flowers, quite a bit of new growth and some shrivelled up old fruits still holding on the branches. All quite odd. You would have thought that the quinces would have dropped off in autumn or at least been eaten by something however nauseous the smell (which it is to me).

2017 – CHW
Last year the Pseudocydonia sinensis had a full set of new leaves and new growth but little evidence of this this year.

Pseudocydonia sinensis
Pseudocydonia sinensis
Priority job to remove the ivy on the drive from many deciduous azaleas this spring. Quite a big one now too! Several azalea clumps will need to be cut down in the process to reshoot.
ivy on the drive
ivy on the drive
ivy on the drive
ivy on the drive
More aucuba clumps now stone dead by the Hovel. This is a progressive phytopthora which only affects aucuba as we have seen before.
aucuba clumps
aucuba clumps

2016 – CHW
The first magnolia has blown open (two flowers) outside the back arch on this rain sodden weekend. Not a bad colour considering! This is a hybrid between Magnolia mollicomata and Magnolia campbellii and is generally out pretty early in March or even February. In 2010 or 2011 we had a magnolia flower on the table at a shooting lunch in very late January but this beats all known or conceivable records by about a month. Quite staggering and potentially hugely dangerous for our spring season to come.What I can say with great certainty is that in translating the last 100 plus years of the family Garden Diary back to 1897 this is a uniquely early magnolia season.Sadly the gardens do not open until 22nd February.
The first magnolia has blown open
The first magnolia has blown open

Philip Tidball, the headkeeper, tells me at midday that there is another magnolia out above the greenhouse and, on investigation, it is actually full out.Planted in 2007 this is a US hybrid bred by Todd Gresham called ‘Todds Forty-Niner’ (his 49th cross made in 1964) which we have known to be early but never this early!

MAGNOLIA ‘Todds Forty-Niner’
MAGNOLIA ‘Todds Forty-Niner’
MAGNOLIA ‘Todds Forty-Niner’
MAGNOLIA ‘Todds Forty-Niner’
It has now rained for three days virtually nonstop so these magnolia pictures will be poor in the rain but it stops mid morning.

2001 – FJW
Still raining!

1933 – JCW
Very little in flower, exception 8 Hamamelis mollis. Camellia speciosa, the early form, is very good.

1929 – JCW
Much as in 1926, H mollis v.g., flowers cut out by 7 or 8 days of frost, ½ “ of ice on frames tank.

1926 – JCW
Mucronulatum has not been good so far but H mollis is good, very good, the heaths are coming on and not much else.

1923 – JCW
10 to 12 species of Rhodo give an odd flower or so, mucronulatum has been very good, Scabrifolium will be very good, Hamamelis mollis is beautiful and so is Erica darleyense.

1918 – JCW
Just as above but a bit further on with a snowdrop or two, an aconite or two, mucronulatum having gone over. The Nobleanums have been very nice. Narcissus cyclamineus is open and the Cyclamen coum are fair. One good blood red hybrid is open near Engine House.

1917 – JCW
Hamamelis mollis is nice in the new planting, a flower or two open on Dahuricum and Mucronulatum , the two best early shrubs we have as yet, frost has only lately left us.

1908 – JCW
Some Aconites open, Acacia dealbata and the Coums are both good, a Camellia or two open.

1898 – JCW
The first Aconite.