19th March

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

The tour party visits Tregothnan for a very jolly trip around the arboretum and (of course) drinks in front of the house.

Acer pygnanthum in flower. Not seen before.

Acer pygnanthum
Acer pygnanthum
A very fine Rhododendron sinogrande near the ponds. See the colours in the individual flowers within the truss.
Rhododendron sinogrande
Rhododendron sinogrande
Rhododendron sinogrande
Rhododendron sinogrande
Very early flower on Embothrium coccineum.
Embothrium coccineum
Embothrium coccineum
Magnolia ‘Marj Grossler’ – an American hybrid was superb. We eventually found it in the reference books as from Michigan.
Magnolia ‘Marj Grossler’
Magnolia ‘Marj Grossler’

2016 – CHW (photos to follow)
A chaotic gardening day with our weekend guests including the Stephenson Clarkes from Borde Hill and Koen Camelbeke from Arboretum Wespelaar who combined with a party from Tregothnan (am) and the Carew Poles (pm). The Carew Pole party included Tom Hudson, Maurice Foster and Jaimie Compton. So a plethora of horticultural experts to contend with and five and a half hours of garden tour. Someone had a pedometer and we covered nine kilometres in all. Quite a bit of champagne too and sixteen to lunch plus six for drinks.The michelia species question is now resolved; by the experts anyway. The three 1928 michelias above the greenhouse are now believed ALL to be forms of Michelia doltsopa and not Michelia floribunda or Michelia champaca as had been suggested by others. [Photo caption: What we thought were Michelia floribunda now identified as widely differing forms (to our other three) of Michelia doltsopa] Tom Hudson brought pieces of M floribunda in flower and, although the flower was pretty similar, as was the leaf and silvery underside to the leaf (slight difference), the crux of the argument was the length of the leaf petioles. Twenty centimetres in the case of M floribunda and fifty centimetres for M doltsopa, so case closed, these experts say.They also say that the yellow flowering Michelia floribunda at the top of the garden is ALSO a form of Michelia doltsopa and not M floribunda at all. So all seven of our enormous michelias are all the same species. Mighty odd that only one michelia species has survived 80 to 90 years here but there we are. Were they collected and named in China from different areas incorrectly to start with? Did the other seedlings of other species really all die out before maturity here? Why have so many new species of michelia been found in the last 30 years in China from the same places that Wilson and Forrest collected from? No one can answer that one!

Then, to cap it all, Maurice Foster says he believes the record tree Michelia doltsopa below Donkey Shoe is in fact Michelia manipurense which may or may not be a species in its own right or it may be a subspecies of M doltsopa. This he attributes to the velvety orange or purple indumentum on the undersides of the leaves which are quite pronounced on the leaves of this tree. This is a new one to us anyway and rather adds to the confusion rather than resolving it. Such are experts and what fun we all had.

2015 – CHW

MAGNOLIA Caerhays Splendour close up
MAGNOLIA ‘Caerhays Splendour’
Jaimie’s Magnolia ‘Caerhays Splendour’ is just coming out at the top. Around 40 buds in its third or fourth year of flowering. This is a very unusual deliberate three-way cross between Magnolia sargentiana var robusta, Magnolia campbellii subsp mollicomata ‘Lanarth’ and Magnolia campbellii ‘Darjeeling’. The colour of the flower really is a mixture of the colours of its three parents and it is this which makes this hybrid unique and different. Well worthy of formal registration with the International Magnolia Society (IMS) which it now has been as ‘Caerhays Splendour’.
Magnolia sargentiana robusta Magnolia lanarth hybrid
Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta x ‘Lanarth’ hybrid
Philip’s 1985 hybrid between Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta and Magnolia ‘Lanarth’ is full out at the top of the garden with 150+ flowers set against a perfect backdrop of a blue sky. Breath-taking even if you have to go well off the main route to find it. Today this is the best magnolia in the garden but probably only for today and tomorrow when set against so many scores of others. It is a lightish and translucent pink but quite different from Magnolia ‘Caerhays Belle’ or Magnolia ‘Kew’s Surprise’. Again this needs formal naming and registration. ‘Caerhays Majestic’ seems appropriate or perhaps ‘Caerhays Philip’?So off to Old Park to plant magnolias. Around 20 are unnamed Caerhays hybrids from 5 to 6 years ago which may well take 10 to 15 years to flower and reveal if we have something genuinely new. Jaimie and Michael made 23 separate deliberate crosses on a warm still day (like today) and, amazingly, around 19 produced seed. Quite how many have grown on to be large enough to plant out needs checking as some are still too small but at least half a dozen today.

Also going out are various crosses from seed obtained via the IMS seed list over several years and grown on at Caerhays. Most of these crosses are unnamed and perhaps we will get lucky with something genuinely new and different in the next decade. The planting lists and plans (to do in the summer) will make interesting reading and further research.

Far end of old park
Far end of old park
We had planted around 25 magnolias in Old Park in the newly cleared bank facing the drive in 2013 and 2014. Sadly these faced an unexpected disaster last summer. The bracken growth on the bank and some rushes/brambles were strimmed off and it was decided to burn up the residue so that stones could then be picked and cleared to make grass cutting easier in future years. As it turned out the fire went well and spread quickly scorching the leaves in some 20 magnolias and, in some cases, incinerating the plastic tree guards too. Death and destruction but all now replaced and fenced properly with rabbit netting up to four feet to try to keep the roe deer off as well.We should be doing more cross pollination today but no time for any of that with the flowers for Serena’s wedding on Saturday now taking precedence.

In all we placed out about 60 magnolias today and there is still an enormous amount of space for planting at the far end of Old Park.

The Sister seedling
The Sister seedling to Jaimies ‘Caerhays Splendour’
Now that Old Park has been cleared a couple of magnolias stand out today. The sister seedling to Jaimie’s ‘Caerhays Splendour’ is full out on the bank above the old dog (hunt) kennels. It is nice enough but nowhere near the same colour as the real thing. Fortunate again that the best of the four seedlings got planted in the best/correct place. The third seedling is on the drive. A superbly shaped plant which flowered first in 2013. Tiny buds, hidden within the tree and a muddy off white colour on first showing – utter crap and the tree may have to be chainsawed unless it performs better this year. The fourth plant from this seed batch grows in Jaimie’s parents’ garden in St Stephens. It is the second best of the four but still not the real thing. Such are the perils and delights of magnolia hybridisation many years after the cross itself was done.
MAGNOLIA Lanarth seedling
MAGNOLIA ‘Lanarth’ seedling
Finally one could not visit Old Park today without pausing to admire yet another superb Magnolia ‘Lanarth’ seedling (one of two) on the top path below the gunnera bed. Not as red as Magnolia ‘F J Williams’, a much larger flower than the true ‘Lanarth’ and not quite as good (today) as ‘Bishop Michael’. However it is quite some magnolia and well worth propagating/naming. Perhaps a third ‘bishop’? The second plant above the path is not out yet.Came upon Robert Vernon of BlueBell Nursery in the garden in exactly the same place as I met him last year and in 2012. What are the mathematical chances of that? Cannot stop to talk much as Karol is now taking 360° panorama shots of the garden with his new camera. All will be revealed on the website shortly.


1966 – FJW
End of fine week in Garden. Camp seedlings A.G xx ½, Penvergate xxx, Diva seed above Engine House xxxx, Mound seedlings xx, also crino hedge xx.

1959 – FJW
In middle of good plant up – 7 Albas and 5 Robustas above Rookery Path – 2 Albas and 2 Robustas above Hovel – 2 more Magnolias to go into the Beech Walk. Mosers Marson, Buergeanum and aberconwayii received from Hillier.

1933 – JCW
R lutescens and R argenteum are all very good. R sutchuenense ciliatum at their best. Camellia speciosa has been very good since Christmas, Ciliatum is very good. Barbatums are good. Magnolia denudata and a big Mag kobus show colour.

1926 – JCW
Could find bits of 40 Rhodo species, Corylopsis veitchiana at its best, others a week later. Camellia speciosa has been very good for some while. R ririei is very good now and has been open a month since January 28th.

1924 – JCW
A good deal of Ciliatum has been open and frosted. Daffodils much as above. Hippophaeoides is very nice. Big stuff had very few buds and then frosted. Osmanthus delavayi in the sun is good.

1909 – JCW
Much as in 1904, and a good few Jonquil’s open, also KA x Cyc. A good lot of Camellias, a few Arboreum show colour. No Ciliatum open the cold ( a fortnight of it) left us two days ago.

1904 – JCW
Sirius, Artemis and various seedling incomp open, Torch, I picked a bud of, King A shows colour, 337 is opening, a great move in a few days, Sirius open.

1898 – JCW
G mundi opens, also G of Leiden, several Van Thols and Graf tulips show colour. Golden Bell and Sirius out, half Emperor and Emprep only just, many seedling trumpets.

1897 – JCW
[?] open, Weardale, G of Leiden, C J Backhouse, Monarch, B conspicuus, all the Emperor and Emprep. Tulip gregii and most of the Van Thols.

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