19th May

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

We arrive at the Chelsea Flower Show before midday. The stand is well on course to be ready for the judges at 7.30am on Monday and, barring incidents, will be virtually finished by Sunday. Gerry, Louisa and Jon have worked incredibly hard in the previous three days to get this far. The Rayner fountain at the centre of the stand has a burst pipe so Giles has to return from Oxfordshire to fix it. The cut stuff has travelled well and Rob proves to be a dab hand at floral arrangements. The Magnolia sieboldii is hellish to arrange properly in a vase.

Karol starts to take some pictures of the developing stand.

pictures of the developing stand
pictures of the developing stand
pictures of the developing stand
pictures of the developing stand
pictures of the developing stand
pictures of the developing stand
pictures of the developing stand
pictures of the developing stand
pictures of the developing stand
pictures of the developing stand
pictures of the developing stand
pictures of the developing stand
pictures of the developing stand
pictures of the developing stand
pictures of the developing stand
pictures of the developing stand

2016 – CHW
Cut stuff all loaded on the lorry and on its way. Weather in London dry Saturday, wet on Sunday so it may well not open as much as we would like by Monday! Nothing we can do about it now of course except listen to the judges moan and criticise as sometimes they do. Photographed a really rare new plant for next year’s catalogue in the nursery today – Euptelia pleiosperma. Nice looking new growth and something to read up about after the rigors of Chelsea. Also the very striking but obviously tender Passiflora piresii with its bright red flowers.
Euptelia pleiosperma
Euptelia pleiosperma
Euptelia pleiosperma
Euptelia pleiosperma
Passiflora piresii
Passiflora piresii
Daphne gemmata
Daphne gemmata

Daphne gemmata used to grow here in full shade by the playhouse or perhaps it was Daphne pontica? Nice but not exactly a woodland plant for Caerhays. It was the first daphne I ever saw and I had no idea what it was until I went to work at Windsor and discovered ‘daphnes’. Today we have here two or three forms of the short lived Daphne bholua varieties.

I have been pondering what this species is in the rockery and thought at first Rhododendron pentaphyllum but it is actually a light coloured form of Rhododendron reticulatum. The new leaf form gives it away. It is our only plant of this. Rh reticulatum comes in a wide variety of colours and subspecies (we have Rhododendron kyosumense). They are not quite fully deciduous in our climate.
Rhododendron reticulatum
Rhododendron reticulatum
Rhododendron reticulatum
Rhododendron reticulatum
Also in the rockery is a dwarf Azalea indicum (Rhododendron indicum) which I thought last year was called ‘Bungo-Nishiki’. I now cannot find this name or picture. The closest I can get to it in Galle’s azalea book is Azalea indicum ‘Balsaminaeflorum’ but it is clearly orange here and a pinkish/red in the book. Perhaps I was right first time around?
Azalea indicum ‘Balsaminaeflorum’
Azalea indicum ‘Balsaminaeflorum’
Azalea indicum ‘Balsaminaeflorum’
Azalea indicum ‘Balsaminaeflorum’
Azalea ‘Purple Splendour’ beside it is much younger and needs cutting down. A fair bit of it is on its way to Chelsea where it will hopefully open more fully.
Azalea ‘Purple Splendour’
Azalea ‘Purple Splendour’
Azalea ‘Purple Splendour’
Azalea ‘Purple Splendour’
The Echium pininana on the lawn photographed after the winter gales looked black and nearly dead – today they are 20ft tall and coming nicely into flower. Pink buds opening to blue. They will quickly die after flowering and seed everywhere which is no problem. We have a fine 6ft plant in flower on its way to Chelsea.
Echium pininana
Echium pininana
Echium pininana
Echium pininana
2015 – CHW
News reaches us at 6.30am that the stand has won its first GOLD medal in four years so I hurry into the show and start ringing the press and our PR people.  Lots of the usual shrieks and kissing for some and tears and angry faces from others.  We do not go in for any of that!
Burncoose Nurseries 2015 Gold Chelsea Stand
Burncoose Nurseries 2015 Gold Chelsea Stand

At 8am the first public are let in and we brace ourselves for the repetitive spiel about the Plant of the Year brandishing the order books.  Helpfully the Plant of the Year stand with 10,000 leaflets per day is very close to us.  We are on the front cover or rather the viburnum is.

Chelsea stand
Burncoose Nurseries Gold winning stand at Chelsea stand
Chelsea stand (2)
Burncoose Nurseries Gold winning stand at Chelsea 2015
Burncoose Nurseries at Chelsea 2015
Burncoose Nurseries at Chelsea 2015
Chelsea 2015 Javado 4744
Chelsea 2015 Plant of the year award
Charles Williams with Plant of the Year award Chelsea 2015
Charles Williams with Plant of the Year award Chelsea 2015

At midday Chris and I go off for the prize giving.  Showers are forecast so instead of a trip to the bandstand the president (Nikko Bacon) comes in person to the Plant of the Year stand to make the presentation accompanied by Sue Biggs, the RHS Director General, who is exactly as her name implies.  Yet more photos of the trophy which is Dartington glass and then to the Burncoose stand for more smiles and snaps.  The public crowd in and I am glad not to have had a hangover after the gala night and be in bed by 10pm.

Plenty to celebrate after a hectic day talking to the punters so 5pm and the President’s Drinks are very jolly.  Lots of friends and a few RHS ears to bend.  Stagger off to Buckingham Palace for a private view of horticultural paintings in the Queens Gallery hosted by the Game Conservancy and Prince Philip.  Very much the worse for wear by the end but no incidents that I recollect.

Chelsea 2015-Javado
Chelsea 2015- with Sue Biggs RHS Director General
Chelsea gold award
Chelsea gold award

1941 – CW
First rain for weeks last night. Bracken cut by frost below 4 in Hand a few days ago. Auklandii at its best and Zealanicum hybrid. Mag wilsoni and nicholsiana just coming out. Also Azaleas. There are still flowers on Camellia speciosa but the last. The hybrids over. All small Azaleas very good.

1940 – CW
Mag nicholsiana at best but big one mostly over. Wilsoni fully out, Parviflora just first lot of flowers. Auklandii still good in places. Tally Ho just coming out and Azaleas at their best. Took 2200 odd flowers off the Rho orbiculare. It has layered itself. Rain badly wanted.

1932 – JCW
Augustinii very good in most places, and so are the Maddeni x Roylei. Mag speciosa and alba superba are very good.

1927 – JCW
Mag parviflora is very very good the big one, Nicholsoniana with about 9 flowers is very promising. Rhodo’s burnt out by the sun and dry air. Some Azaleas in the Hovel are nice.

1926 – JCW
Primula pulverulenta has been long of flower. May was open on April 24th. Blue beds at their best. Roylei cinnabarinum in the new planting is nice, also Rho zealanicum.

1906 – JCW
The first flower of Primula pulverulenta open.

1900 – JCW
Moved seven trumpets from the Kitchen Garden to the rose bed. No waterlilies.

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