The rhododendron season really is upon us and the rain on Sunday night has had a big stimulus on the buds. I need to do some more videos for the website of what joys and excitements visitors are missing.
The CLA ring up to see how we are ‘getting on’ which is unexpected. The Historic Houses association newsletters have been useful in the last two weeks as well. Amusingly the Scottish government has decreed that country houses open and with visitor businesses are not eligible (in Scotland) for the government grants. How remarkably petty and spiteful (but typical) of them! Their chief medical officer’s performance rather sums it up.I attach a communication from Lawrence Banks with photographs. We had been corresponding on the naming of one or two of his magnolias. We have a (still small) Magnolia ‘Anne Rosse’ x Magnolia ‘Purple Breeze’.
First bud showing colour on the new Magnolia (Michelia) ‘Fairy Lime’.
Eucalyptus crenulata – 2015 planted – with flower buds showing. Pollarded back by the cold in March 2018.
2019 – CHW
Several nice new things to admire in the greenhouses.
Abies forrestii var. georgei with its blue flower cones opening creamy white. Stout densely hairy shoots say Hilliers who also say plants of this name are in fact Abies forrestii var. smithii. Clare bought this in for Caerhays but I have no idea where from.
A tour with another Duke and Duchess and their friends. Non gardeners on their first visit to Cornish gardens and staying in Portholland. A fine and sunny day for a change and 185 people around the gardens which are still probably 50% behind last year in terms of visitor numbers.Magnolia ‘Star Wars’ is performing better than I dared imagine. Only six weeks ago half the buds were black / dead / on the ground. A remarkable recovery.
2017 – CHW Judging camellias with Jennifer Trehane at the show. More classes than I expected but four judges was overkill. Trewithen deservedly won the main class for 12 different blooms plus the cup.
Sorbus caloneura in full flower on the show bench.
Magnolia soulangeana ‘Alexandrina’
Camellia japonica ‘Aitonia’
Camellia japonica ‘Elegans’
Camellia japonica ‘Sacco Vera’
Camellia japonica ‘Woodsii’
Rhododendron ‘Cowslip’ – a williamsianum hybrid.
Rhododendron kesangiae – another form.
Camellia x williamsii ‘Les Jury’ – a must to add to our collection.
Camellia ‘Spring Festival’ – ditto.
Camellia ‘Spring Mist’
Darmera peltata in flower with no leaf.
Lindera triloba just in flower.
Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem’ – superb double new coloured growth.
All good stuff for the new wisteria care article.
The two hectare plantation of camellias in the Portholland valley is being ripped out after some 25 years. Originally these camellias were planted as part of a European grant project for Cornish growers promoting traditional and new foliage production. The belief was that there was a European/German market for eucalyptus, pittosporum and other foliage plants if they could be grown in bulk as Tregothnan were then doing on a field scale size with a huge range of potential foliage plants form phormium, rubus, eleagnus and camellia. Caerhays had always sold sprays of Camellia japonica foliage to the Covent Garden market and still does today. The hope was that by growing more named varieties of camellia a new market could be opened up for the sale of camellia buds and sprays of flowering camellia.Although Tregothnan did indeed go on to develop a thriving foliage business which has adapted into tea production as well as supplying the floristry market the supposed German foliage buyers sent only one lorry to Cornwall and this was not a success.
We did eventually manage to interest Dutch buyers in the camellia product some five years ago but it proved impossible to provide week on week the consistency of product in a limited range of named varieties and the costs of cutting and bunching camellia sprays in different sizes hardly covered the costs achieved in the market. Transport costs to Holland were horrendous and the Dutch never understood that the product was grown outdoors and therefore subject to frost, wind damage and hailstorms week on week. In warmer weather the flowers came out too quickly during shipment.We managed only one successful load which was shipped on the Moscow, Vladivostok and the Gulf States. The buyers wanted more next week but we had a frost. We were not geared up staff wise to cope and the skills needed to package thousands of identical bunches of uniform quality of the same variety as the Dutch (rightly) demanded were beyond us. Camellias do not, in the main, grow in a manner which easily allows the cutting of 30, 60 and 90cm identical sprays in very large quantities.
So the Dutch gave up on us, we could not see a realistic profit in the future and the plants grew so big that you could not get through them although the brambles did.
So, slightly reluctantly, we decided to destroy the plantation and return the land to normal agricultural use. Not a success story but one which cost us very little as the original grant covered the full cost of the plants and the original planting while some ongoing agricultural support from Europe paid for maintenance of the crop (today called BPS) on an annual basis.
2015 – CHW
Completed the planting out of some 200 rhododendrons in the centre of Old Park. These were mainly new species to Caerhays and some are replacements for species which have died of old age. All were grown from wild collected Chinese seed by Alan Clark formerly of Muncaster Gardens in Cumbria. The frames by the greenhouse which had our own excellent crop of rhododendron seedlings were also planted out some in Old Park and some above Rogers Quarry. These included Rhododendron excellens, lindleyi, ririei, arboretum, royalei (yellow and pink) and ‘Penvose’ (Caerhays hybrid). Higher Quarry Nursery and Orchid House Nursery are now virtually empty for the first time for years and ready to be dug over ready for Jeremy Peter-Hoblyn’s Chinese rhododendron seedlings which he kindly gave us last year just before he sadly died. We have planted out now at least 100 new magnolias, 300 plus rhododendrons and at least 150 other camellias and assorted shrubs in seven days . A bigger planting out programme than Jaimie had ever undertaken in his 21 years here. Now we need some rain to bed them all in but none in prospect this week it seems.
2004 – FJW
Mag stellata by nursery excellent.
1966 – FJW
Mrs Blandford died – 60 years they were married.
1933 – JCW
Just as on this day 10 years ago, but no Auklandii. Magnolias are all good.
1923 – JCW
Bob’s White Australis is splendid, the Auklandii starting the early one is well out, the hybrid white Auklandii have been very beautiful. The cherries in the drive are at their best but Subhirtella in the Beech Walk is better.
1918 – JCW
One of the best days of one of the best springs, the first of the Auklandii are opening. Bob’s White Australis is in flower well for the first time. All the heaths are open and a great mass of rhodo’s with very pleasant light for things like the Augustinii’s.
1914 – JCW
Daffs are near their best. Clematis alpina is lovely. Mrs Butler x at its best. R fargesii at its very best. R lutescens going back. The Auklandii x Arboreum white and red come on well. A few R broughtonii moving.
1912 – JCW
Reticulata half fallen, de Graaf going back, cherries are out bar one, the later poets are open, some montana open, rhododendrons are near about their best.
1907 – JCW
Plymouth Show. De Graaf ⅓ open, Weardale well out, all x poets not properly open, no Auklandii yet.
1904 – JCW
Truro Show. De Graaf open and Weardale, but not grown, and I did not take the former Dante, and 137 were our poets, flowers below the average.
1903 – JCW
We have nearly the last de Graaf buds open, all the Lulworths or nearly all are out, the cherries are half out. I returned from Dinton and the Drill Hall today, there were very few Poets at the Drill Hall except from the west.
1900 – JCW
Bob saw the first swallow.
1898 – JCW
Sir W Scott, Homer, 37, Dante, Firebrand, Griflamme are open also Mrs Langtry (one or two), M Cowen, M de Graaf, M Plemp, G of Leiden and G mundi.