The plant care articles for the Burncoose website are finished. The last 175 odd were by far the most lengthy to write and difficult requiring plenty of research about plants I knew little about (eg ferns). I would now be happy to undertake a gardening quiz having gained all this extra plant knowledge.
I started on 22nd March, so it has taken three weeks or so this time around, and about 70 days in all, to complete doing, on average, 10 or so a day to complete the full complement of circa 650 to 675 plant genus as offered on the website. The previous 500 were spread over the last three years and mainly completed in Seaview on the Isle of Wight. The larger rhododendron, camellia, magnolia and acer care articles were completed even earlier in 2015 to 2016.
What a relief! So now on to proof the 2021 catalogue and website in another fortnight of concentrated boredom. I do not get the impression that many people in the country are actually doing much work in isolation and this may well become a major problem for people who have got out of the habit of doing anything other than ‘nothing’. One can begin to see those who have used the time to think, and improve, with new ideas for the future shape of businesses. There is a revolution going on at Burncoose in the (soon to be paperless) packing sheds. Only the drama and thought from Andrew has allowed us to turn a crisis into a major leap forward for our website mail order business.
I will pay an extra week’s pay this month to those who have either decided to work or been able to because of the jobs they do (many of our staff of course cannot and are in the tourist/hospitality/visitor side of the businesses here). The unfairness to those actually working of seeing their work colleagues get paid 80% of their wages to do ‘nothing’ is very evident. A few more people (who can) are beginning to come back to work where there is useful work for them to do in distanced isolation. They have completed their three week ‘furlough’ and will begin to generate a little productivity – even perhaps a little income particularly on the building side of things.
We have one (empty) house renovation well underway (the contractors even worked through the weekend), painters are back doing the routine annual painting work on the estate and routine carpentry repairs of the nursery are starting up. Routine maintenance to holiday lets and Vean is also being done in the absence of visitors. We hope to come back to business well prepared, tidy, and reorganised to cope with the hoped for rush, however slowly it is allowed to emerge from lockdown.
The Cornwall tourist board and ‘locals’ have been so vociferous and rude about second homers in exile (etc) will have to change their tune; and quickly!
A carpet of flowers under the Rhododendron ‘Cornish Red’ on Hovel Cart Road. This has been in flower for six to eight weeks.
Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’ now in full leaf a week after we saw it last.
Fallen flowers of Camellia ‘Brigadoon’ and Rhododendron desquamatum. The former has been in flower for months but the latter only about 10 days.
A group of three Rhododendron luteiflorum performing well.
Diplopanax stachyanthus with its attractive bronzy new growth.
Reddish-orange twigs and new growth on Tilia cordata ‘Winter Orange’.
Juglans cinerea with emerging new growth.
Acer campestre ‘Elsrick’ with root suckering growth at the base of the tree. This is not shooting from below the graft but root suckers which A. campestre often has. Planted in 2009 this tree has done well and plenty of flowers today.
Thuja koraiensis is making good headway as a windbreak.
Tin Garden planting starting to leaf up and flower.
Rhododendron davidsonianum ‘Caerhays Pink Form’ getting going as young plants.
The Magnolia sprengeri ‘Diva’ seedling pollarded in the Tin Garden only a year ago is responding well!
Magnolia ‘Ann’ now has much larger and decent flowers but the buds which are more in the shade are still tiny.
I planted this Cedrus deodora ‘Pendula’ around 40 years ago and it must now be 50ft. We recently removed all the lower branches and it is coming into new growth having shed most of its old needle like leaves. Perhaps the storms took them prematurely.
Rhododendron ‘Hotei’ with its first flowers showing.
Menziesia ‘Honshu Blue’ is flowering for the very first time in the Rockery. I have always wanted to grow these plants but have failed miserably up to now. Blue-green young foliage and tiny rockery plants really which I believe have now been reclassified as rhododendrons.
An old Rhododendron campylogynum on its last legs in the Rockery.
The show team (Gerry, Christine and Louisa) have started to mock up and measure out how the stand will look on the ground with the new gate, iron fence and seat which will lead the eye into the stand. All a bit crude and rusty here but imagine it all covered with three lorry loads of plants!
Then into the show tunnel itself to try to pick out the new things which will be out on our stand on 20th May. A difficult job of speculation about a month out from the show itself in such an early spring.
Isopogon formosus will certainly be new and different and has plenty of buds to come.
Two large Grevillea ‘Bronze Rambler’ also have tight buds and we have never exhibited this before.
Elsewhere less good as the Halesia are full out already as are the Enkianthus so not a chance of them making it even if moved into a cool spot outside in full shade. This year we may well need the cold store at Caerhays to hold things back from around 10th May.
However, as you look around the show tunnel the Chelsea plants are looking splendid and we are not exactly going to be short of material.
2018 – CHW
After a week of incessant rain in Ireland we discover there has been a heatwave in England. The leaves on the trees have very noticeably rushed on and not before time. Today initially is more of the same.
Magnolia ‘Goldfinch’ now full out.
Likewise Magnolia ‘Petit Chicon’.
And Magnolia ‘Anya’. Not bad! I think I saw this in an article on Arboretum Westpelaar.
Magnolia ‘Slavins No 4’ is not one I have seen before and really quite large in flower for this sort of magnolia.
One of the first Gill Hybrids to show. This is what we call Rhododendron ‘Mrs Butler’.
More lining out of young rhododendrons in the much extended Rookery nursery bed.
The nearby clearance now means one can see properly the second of our huge Magnolia x veitchii ‘Isca’.
Cyclamen coum in a wonderful group.
Rhododendron albrectii in differing colours on two neighbouring plants.
Magnolia ‘Pickards Garnet’ as good as I have ever seen it. Actually I think it is ‘Pickards Ruby’ – Garnet is nearby.
Magnolia pseudokobus ‘Kubimishimodori’ at its very best.
First flowers on Magnolia ‘Yuchelia’ that may well be wrongly named according to recent correspondence I have had. Very fine anyway.
A view of Rhododendron williamsianum x decorum hybrids.
Prunus matsumae ‘Hokusai’ with huge flowers.
Prunus ‘Hally Jolievette’ with rather smaller ones.
Rhododendron suoilenhense at its very best. No flower on the ones at Mount Congreve two days ago.
At last a good show on our young clump of Rhododendron williamsianum.
My father’s Rhododendron moorii x Rhododendron euchates by Georges Hut (no name yet). There are better forms than this elsewhere in the garden and at Burncoose.
Rhododendron moorii full out and very splendid today.
First flowering here of Magnolia ‘Lu Shan’. A purchase from Cherry Tree nursery and strongly recommended by them.
The view across Hovel Cart Road today.
Magnolia – label unreadable and not on the plan.
Magnolia campbellii ‘Peter Borlaise’ is a gorgeous colour. Smallish flowers but superb. I do not remember seeing this one before either. Late for a campbellii. Excellent!
An excellent yellow – must ask Jaimie which one it is. [Jaimie later tells me it is Magnolia denudata ‘Yellow River’.]
Rhododendron rubiginosum ‘Desquamatum Group’ or Rhododendron desquamatum to you and I just coming out. A little lighter in colour so far than usual.
Magnolia ‘Blushing Belle’ with its first flower with us. A ‘Caerhays Belle’ seedling I assume. Again a purchase from Cherry Tree as I remember it.
Magnolia ‘Purpurascens’ – we have others but first nice flowers on this one.
When we first were given Magnolia ‘Genie’ to try in the UK we put three plants in very different spots. This one is by the Four in Hand in a hot but cold location. There are plenty of flowers but the cold and wind has damaged the buds and the colour is pale.
2017 – CHW A quick visit to The Rockery area before we set off for Wales and hopefully a visit to Bristol on the way for ‘grandpa’ to meet Isla Rose in person.
Berberis latifolia is plastered in flower and another good species which we ought to stock and sell. Quite tall growing too.
The dwarf and short lived Rhododendron camplogynum. There used to be a nice clump once in Higher Quarry Nursery. This plant too is on its last legs.
Rhododendron dendrocharis is a sparse flowerer but it likes it here in full sun and poorish soil.
Rhododendron ‘Yaku Fairy’ is a compact but vigorous rockery plant. Here quite superb in a semi shaded but damp spot.
Berberis insignis var insigne seems to be semi evergreen and may be in too cold a spot despite its name. A rather floppy thing needing support.
Barbara Oozeerally, the magnolia artist, has sent me a picture of what she calls the ‘stone oak’ (Lithocarpus pachyphyllus seed) painted from seed collected here. It is being exhibited in Canada. I have bought four of her magnolia paintings of Caerhays plants plus the copyrights so you will be able to see these shortly.
2016 – CHW
A three hour evening visit to Tregrehan to look primarily at michelias and manglietias with Jaimie and Michael. This is a record of what we saw.Magnolia sprengeri – wild collected form, has a smallish flower with 12 tepals (ie more than usual). It is a late flowerer with more buds to come.
Quercus semicarpifolia – a mature tree. The young leaves have barbed edges but mature ones do not.
Stachyurus praecox ‘Matsusaku’ is an exceptional form with much larger flower clusters than straight S praecox.
Huodendron baristratum has a wonderful trailing habit and exceptional bark. We have so far failed to establish this at Caerhays after several attempts.
Michelia ernestii (formerly M wilsonii) is in flower with a yellow scented flower. Strangely there is nothing like this at Caerhays from of old although it would be very odd if it had not arrived at all. Lots of archive work to do. Tom offers cuttings in the summer. This is a must acquire for the Caerhays collection with plenty of room to grow!
Michelia compressa – here we start to have a laugh. Burncoose bought this supposed rarity in Holland but it has fat chubby rounded leaves. Nothing even faintly like Tom’s plant which has tiny leaves, nice bark and a few tiny 2cm flowers 20-30ft up. A very dull species with a totally insignificant flower which Tom says is crap even in New Zealand where his father grew it and cut it down.
Cleyera japonica used to grow at Caerhays as a record tree by Donkey Shoe. One to reacquire.
Fokienia hodginsii – a very rare conifer which is similar to Calocedris calolepsis. Saw this once at Exbury.
Parkameria yunnanensis – in the Magnolia nitida category.
Michelia velutina has long pointed leaves but ‘not in the top 10 by flower’ according to Tom. Not on his list either.
Parkameria lotungensis is very similar to Magnolia nitida but the new growth is not rusty red. No flower sadly to compare.
Michelia chapensis is another glossy evergreen tree of some note. No flower sadly. Tom has just given us a plant. Cutting grown I guess.
Illicium simonsii was going over. We have this spectacular tall evergreen tree at Caerhays from Crug but the deer have trimmed it up. One for cuttings.
Manglietia duclouxii is very vigorous with shiny leaves.
Michelia platypetala we have seen also at Burncoose and Tregothnan but ours has yet to flower. Excellent scent and well worth its place. Seems hardy and quite easy to grow. Cuttings? Now renamed M cavaleriei.
Michelia xanthantha (now Michelia fulva var calicola) has very hairy indumentum on the bud.
Manglietia fordiana – we have this doing well at Burncoose and may soon see a flower.
Illicium yunnanense – huge trees which may have been merged into Illicium simonsii by the botanists. Cuttings here.
Manglietia yuyuanensis – this one may well be at Burncoose and Caerhays also.
Michelia fulva – we had this one, lost it and now Tom has given us one again planted by the Podocarpus salignus. Huge glossy leaves and very furry new shoots.
Manglietia Moto (now Manglietia kwangtungensis) is the one we have doing well by Georges Hut where it gets partially defoliated by wind to no ill effect.
Manglietia grandis has, as its name implies, huge leaves. M hookeri and M insignis are the only two old mature trees at Caerhays.
Michelia floribunda – now the fun really starts. The old plant at Caerhays which we have always known as M floribunda Tom (and the US expert Dick Figler) says is in fact Michelia doltsopa. This is because of the length of the leaf petioles which are here, on Tom’s plant, 50cm long WITH A SCAR on the petiole around half the length of the petiole. Our plant has a SCAR of ONLY about 25% of the length of the petiole so this makes ours M doltsopa. Apparently the leaf shape and the flower colour (totally different to ours which is yellow whereas this is clearly white) are irrelevant in making the overall identification. We yell ‘bollocks’ and say how can a petiole scar possibly be the end of it. DNA analysis is the only way to resolve this delightful argument.
We then move onto Tom’s (wild collected in SW Yunnan and 100 miles from his collection of floribunda) Michelia doltsopa with its smaller petiole scar which is of course also white and not creamy like our original plants. The flower shape is totally different as are the leaves. So the laughter continues. This argument is by no means over yet. Logic and common sense dictate that the Caerhays plants (the old ones anyway) are massively different. They may be Michelia manipurense but the new Chinese michelia reference book and Tom’s master list make no mention at all of M manipurense! Why should we be fooled by the size of a leaf scar for heaven’s sake and when was a leaf scar alone the key to a plant identification?
Manglietia sapaensis does not seem to be on Tom’s master list. Quite a distinct hairy covering to the new shoots.
Rhododendron petalottii is a superb red species and totally unknown to us.
Michelia Cavaleriei (similar to Michelia platypetala which is now Michelia cavaleriei var platypetala just to confuse us even more) – you could be forgiven for finding it bloody similar to Tom’s M doltsopa and M floribunda in terms of flowers and even the leaf although the M platypetala at Burncoose has larger leaves.
Michelia maudiae is one we thought we have by the old Lindera megaphyllas. Looking at this I am pretty sure we do. The leaves are totally glabrous with blueish undersides. The flowers are quite pointed.
Manglietia conifera (previously M chingii) is yet another thriving and hardy species which Tom has yet to see in flower.
Rhododendron suoilenhense is what I photographed a day or two ago at Caerhays and called it a sinogrande seedling which it is not. It is a wild collected species by Tom in 1990 to 1991. His plants are also in flower today.
Chelsea plants in the show tunnel at Burncoose looking good. Some of the enkianthus are out already and useless but others need to be put in the shade. The specimen rhododendrons are still in tight bud which is excellent. Some to go in shade and some in full sun. Decide on what needs to go into the coldstore on 1st May. The ferns, and especially Blechnum tabulare, look perfect and the Chatham Island forget me nots have plenty of bud which looks just right. All a great credit to Gerry and Louisa who have done the work.
1945 – CW
It has been hot and dry for long. Heavy flowering year. Daffs all over. Cherries were good. Camellias speciosa still some flowers and a lot on the hybrids. Rho aureum at its best, also Auklandii and Loderi. 6 plants of Magnolia nitida in flower all about the same. Maddeni just out and the hybrids good. Still some Michelias.
1930 – JCW
Ten days late for most things, ⅓ of big Mag kobus are open, all the Mag salicifolia. The Dendata has been very good. Fat cherries are opening, Subhirtella has been very good. Camellia speciosa going over but the pink hybrid remains nice. Some Calophytums over, some not open. Sutchuenense over.
1929 – JCW
Truro Show tomorrow. Many gardens have frost now. Rhodo bud crop is very bad. All stuff is short of moisture. Cherries wane but have been good.
1927 – JCW
At Werrington for the day, they seem to have very little for Truro. Bobs London rhodo, outside [?] – reds and it is very hot and dry there. No sign of Auklandii here but I can hardly see a dozen buds around the house and garden.
1912 – JCW
Was at the London Show last week, only the remains of daffs there, did not go to Dinton. Camellias reticulata is over. Rho augustinii at their best, some very good Augustinii. Daffs at the tail end. Auklandii a few good trees in flower, the frost having cut most of them. One cherry (dark one) is very good, the rest over. Camellias over, Iris (van Tubergen) very good. Rho falconeri is opening. Montana rubra nice.
1910 – JCW
Came back from Dinton having bought Green Eye.
1906 – JCW
Returned from Dinton and Manglis. Dinton things nearly all burnt out, Manglis’s Royali hybrids very good.
(Cutting from magazine attached to Garden Book page, dated April 1951)
Black and white photograph of Magnolia campbellii, White form. Awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s First-Class Certificate. Flowers pure white. Shown by C. Williams, Esq (grown by Mr C. Michael), Caerhays, Gorran, Cornwall. [21st April 1935]