1st February

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

2022 – CHW

Vlogs about our opening to do tomorrow.

Lyonia ovalifolia is half evergreen. Here you still see leaves on the younger new growth on this small tree which is recovering after being hit by a beech tree twice since 2016.

Lyonia ovalifolia
Lyonia ovalifolia
Lyonia ovalifolia
Lyonia ovalifolia
Lyonia ovalifolia
Lyonia ovalifolia
An elderly clump of Rhododendron formosum is rejuvenating well from the base also in Higher Quarry Nursery beside the Lyonia. It too was crushed by the same beech trees and I had thought the plants too elderly to regenerate. ‘Smellies’ do regenerate well when cut back but not in extreme old age (i.e. 50 years plus).
Rhododendron formosum
Rhododendron formosum
Rhododendron arboreum subsp. delavayi full out high up above the Main Quarry. This original clump is seriously over mature and we must collect seed.
Rhododendron arboreum subsp. delavayi
Rhododendron arboreum subsp. delavayi
Camellia ‘Bokuhan’ full out by the Playhouse. It will be over by the time we open in only a fortnight.
Camellia ‘Bokuhan’
Camellia ‘Bokuhan’
Acacia melanoxylon nearly out in flower – two huge trees on from the Old Playhouse.
Acacia melanoxylon
Acacia melanoxylon
The oldest Daphne bholua ‘Alba’ on the wall by the greenhouse is full out and scenting everything. Its oldest branches have ‘clubfoot’ or fasciation (i.e. flattened and chubby stems).
Daphne bholua ‘Alba’
Daphne bholua ‘Alba’
Daphne bholua ‘Alba’
Daphne bholua ‘Alba’
In the frames Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ is now out and ready to plant out in our acacia area. This variety grew here since 1990 but was killed in a cold winter.
Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’
Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’
Camellia reticulata ‘Arch of Triumph’ out in the greenhouse – a sort of double or even treble flower. Good to see Asia propagating these difficult named forms of reticulata without the need to graft them. A long time in the mist bench.
Camellia reticulata ‘Arch of Triumph’
Camellia reticulata ‘Arch of Triumph’
I have been sent these five photographs of a grey squirrel fighting with a cock pheasant in Suffolk! Incredible but not clear quite who inflicted the most damage on whom? Have I seen this before? Perhaps?
squirrel
squirrel
squirrel
squirrel
squirrel
squirrel
squirrel
squirrel
squirrel
squirrel
Going around the garden today I am strangely stuck on plant names which I know perfectly well. After having hosted nearly 90 days shooting here (and 1,200 to 1,300 people) since last September and still kept this diary going the February brain can now readjust to the spring season. A couple of days more and the ‘grey matter’ will produce a plant name for me before I have to even think about it. Happy days are here again! Spring is already here in Cornwall but we all fear a cold snap – especially in the March magnolia season

2021 – CHW
An interesting little bit of our garden history and a nice puzzle!We received an enquiry from Pam Hayward about the two attached photographs which were taken in very early colour and which are in the collection of an amateur photographer called Hugh Charles Knowles which is housed at the V&A Museum. The collection contains pictures of gardens and rhododendrons.Both these pictures were actually taken by Lionel de Rothschild of Exbury between 1907 and 1914. The Caerhays visitors’ book records five of Lionel’s visits here between March 1921 and April 1935 but nothing earlier. Perhaps he actually stayed nearby; say at Heligan?

Anyway one of the two pictures is very clearly Caerhays. It is interesting to see the shelterbelt at the top of the old deer park only just established. The pink and white Rhododendron arboreums featured are still (exactly) there now in extreme old age. The Irish yew is not and neither is the enormous Virginia creeper to be seen on the main tower which I remember being cut down and removed as a child. The Magnolia grandiflora clump was also there until about 30 years ago when it nearly died in a cold winter.

two attached photographs
two attached photographs
The second photograph made me stop and think. There is a stone building leading into the garden at the top of the bank very like this beside the site of the old wooden playhouse. The path does curve along the ridge where the green seat is seen in the picture. However, as this photograph, taken today, shows it is not quite right. The stone building has two slit windows rather than the one shown here. There is also no brick chimney stack and absolutely no evidence of a fireplace within the small building itself. You can just see the roof of a wooden building beside the stone one but this is low to the ground. The old playhouse roof was slated with a central ridge. The tree cover is not right either. No cedar tree (or is it a larch?) and no Pinus insignis. The background trees here were, until very recently, all mature beech. No Rhododendron ‘Cornish Red’ here either although there are other elderly clumps not far away.
two attached photographs
two attached photographs
The current pictures of the same thing are here.
current pictures
current pictures
current pictures
current pictures
current pictures
current pictures
current pictures
current pictures
So it is quite close to what this bit of the garden might have looked like circa 100 to 110 years ago but I do not think it actually is Caerhays. The absence of a second slit window in what was originally a Jacobean watch house built by the Trevanions is probably a clincher unless you believe it is obscured by the Rhododendron arboreum flowers? Personally I do not think this quite works. However please see the following entry for 3rd February 2021.

2020 – CHW
Camellia ‘Cornish Snow’ is now shedding furiously below Donkey Shoe but there will be some flowers still to come out for weeks yet.
Camellia ‘Cornish Snow’
Camellia ‘Cornish Snow’
Camellia ‘Cornish Snow’
Camellia ‘Cornish Snow’
Camellia reticulata ‘Mary Williams’ full out. A 1931 planting and just behind the ‘Cornish Snow’ which is probably of a very similar age.
Camellia reticulata ‘Mary Williams’
Camellia reticulata ‘Mary Williams’
Camellia reticulata ‘Mary Williams’
Camellia reticulata ‘Mary Williams’
A young Camellia ‘Spring Mist’ with its first flowers (Camellia japonica x Camellia lutchuensis). Quite nice but not that special a colour.
Camellia ‘Spring Mist’
Camellia ‘Spring Mist’
Alarmingly a few leaves have come out already on Magnolia ‘March-till-Frost’.
Magnolia ‘March-till-Frost’
Magnolia ‘March-till-Frost’
Magnolia ‘March-till-Frost’
Magnolia ‘March-till-Frost’
Then one of these sudden new surprises which makes gardening such fun. Twenty to twenty-five years ago we dug and grew on a large batch of self-sown Rhododendron grande seedlings from within and beside the greenhouse frames. One above the main greenhouse is flowering for the first time today and is clearly (despite its yellowish leaves) an interesting hybrid which may one day be worthy of a name. The only thing it could have crossed with is the nearby Rhododendron ‘Cornish Red’ or the rather further away Rhododendron arboreum subsp. delavayi. No other larger leafed rhododendrons are out this early to have allowed the natural cross to have taken place.
self-sown Rhododendron grande seedlings
self-sown Rhododendron grande seedlings
self-sown Rhododendron grande seedlings
self-sown Rhododendron grande seedlings
self-sown Rhododendron grande seedlings
self-sown Rhododendron grande seedlings
Nearby is a ‘true’ Rhododendron grande seedling by way of comparison.
‘true’ Rhododendron grande seedling
‘true’ Rhododendron grande seedling
‘true’ Rhododendron grande seedling
‘true’ Rhododendron grande seedling
‘true’ Rhododendron grande seedling
‘true’ Rhododendron grande seedling
I must now check all the other clumps to see if other seedlings have similar colour variations. There is a big clump below Hovel Cart Road and others in the Ririei Opening.

2019 – CHW
Rhododendron ‘Red Admiral’ is starting to come out by Georges Hut. A very good red indeed and a Caerhays hybrid. About its normal flowering time.
Rhododendron ‘Red Admiral’
Rhododendron ‘Red Admiral’
Rhododendron ‘Red Admiral’
Rhododendron ‘Red Admiral’
The guinea fowl enjoy the sun in Kennel Close. They have happily and craftily all survived another shooting season and must be at least five years old now.
guinea fowl
guinea fowl
guinea fowl
guinea fowl
Camellia x williamsii ‘Muskoka’ is full out. Huge flowers for any single williamsii.
Camellia x williamsii ‘Muskoka’
Camellia x williamsii ‘Muskoka’
Camellia x williamsii ‘Muskoka’
Camellia x williamsii ‘Muskoka’
Camellia x williamsii ‘Muskoka’
Camellia x williamsii ‘Muskoka’
Camellia x williamsii ‘Jurys Yellow’ looks pleasant only for an instant before the flowers get battered or develop petal blight. Nothing much one can do about petal blight in a woodland garden context really except put up with it.
Camellia x williamsii ‘Jurys Yellow’
Camellia x williamsii ‘Jurys Yellow’
Camellia x williamsii ‘Jurys Yellow’
Camellia x williamsii ‘Jurys Yellow’

2018 – CHW
Heavy rain has caused another landslip on Porthluney Hill. Road not quite blocked but impassable to anything larger than a car. It feels like it has rained for the last three months. Everything sodden underfoot. It must dry up soon! Perhaps a fine dry flowering spring?
landslip on Porthluney Hill
landslip on Porthluney Hill
landslip on Porthluney Hill
landslip on Porthluney Hill
landslip on Porthluney Hill
landslip on Porthluney Hill

2017 – CHW
One of the young seedlings of Rhododendron grande which originally self sowed themselves in the frames by the greenhouse is out up Hovel Cart Road. A rather pale colour. This is not yet out at Burncoose nor are the older plants here.
Rhododendron grande
Rhododendron grande

2016 – CHW
Beaters shooting all around on the very last day of the season. Peace will soon reign!Swarms of snowdrops interspersed with daffodils by the Four in Hand and several sorts of daffodils nearby a good month early.

snowdrops interspersed with daffodils
snowdrops interspersed with daffodils
daffodils
daffodils
daffodils
daffodils
daffodils
daffodils

Now two magnolias out outside the back yard. The larger of these was showing colour on 2nd January so the progress of the flowers opening has thankfully been slow.

two magnolias out outside the back yard
two magnolias out outside the back yard

The restored Nash arch on Battery Walk is now virtually complete and finally the scaffolding and cladding has come down. An impressive feature from the car park and from Penvergate Wood.

restored Nash arch on Battery Walk
restored Nash arch on Battery Walk
restored Nash arch on Battery Walk
restored Nash arch on Battery Walk
Then off to Penvergate where there are three magnolias out already: Magnolia campbellii ‘Sidbury’ is full out with some wind damage. This was planted in 1997 and sadly in a place where few will ever see it in tis full glory. It is a nice campbellii shape and a pleasant nice colour.
Magnolia campbellii ‘Sidbury’
Magnolia campbellii ‘Sidbury’
Magnolia campbellii ‘Sidbury’
Magnolia campbellii ‘Sidbury’
Magnolia campbellii ‘Sidbury’
Magnolia campbellii ‘Sidbury’
Magnolia campbellii ‘Sidbury’
Magnolia campbellii ‘Sidbury’
Magnolia soulangeana ‘Alba Superba’, planted in 1997, has a few flowers starting to come out. The first soulangeana variety eight to ten weeks early at least.
Magnolia soulangeana ‘Alba Superba’
Magnolia soulangeana ‘Alba Superba’
Magnolia soulangeana ‘Alba Superba’
Magnolia soulangeana ‘Alba Superba’
Magnolia soulangeana ‘Alba Superba’
Magnolia soulangeana ‘Alba Superba’
Magnolia ‘Peter Smithers’ planted in 2006 is a hybrid between Magnolia soulangeana ‘Rustica Rubra’ and Magnolia x veitchii. Clearly blown open early but it is still a rather dull and turgid colour with x veitchii colouring but more of a cup shaped flower. Not very nice to me anyway. In fact a magnolia to avoid! Writing rude things about Sir Peter is merely tit for tat after what he once wrote about David Knuckey and Burncoose some 30 years ago.
Magnolia ‘Peter Smithers’
Magnolia ‘Peter Smithers’
Magnolia ‘Peter Smithers’
Magnolia ‘Peter Smithers’

2004 – FJW
Dry January. Seaweed left pond – 2 swans arrived.

1999 – FJW
Williamsii at their best – Wet January.

1997 – FJW
Very dry January – first rain for weeks today – snowdrops out and front gate Mucronulatum full out and had emerged from cold spell unharmed.

1995 – FJW
Very wet January – said to have rained every day in the month.

1994 – FJW
January mild and wet – Camellias – no Mag flower yet.

1979 – FJW
First snowdrop. Damage from blizzard of Dec 30/31 – very bad indeed.

1966 – FJW
Mild period. After static period, the garden advances – I fear too fast.

1942 – CW
Hoofedicoat and white Narcissus out in Tin Garden – several Sutuenense hybrids and Blood Red – Arboreum in middle ride – Moupinense beginning. Cam reticulata species bud picked just opening – Rho Ririei – Camellia hybrids good and early double white – cut up dead Mag salicifolia below Engine House – over 30ft high – Rhus blown over in gale week before also one Camelia oleifera. Snowdrops good – some Lapagerias.

1931 – JCW
H mollis after three weeks in flower have gone over. Erica hybrida is very fine indeed and some of the Mucronulatum have been good.

1917 – JCW
A hard frost holds and we have had it on and off for over a month, the Hamamelis mollis alone gives us anything. We lately had a terrific easterly gale, it cut the boughs off the yew as if a man had worked his clippers for hours.

1913 – JCW
Just back from six weeks in Spain. A very early year it may be the earliest since 1897. There are seven or eight species of Rhodo’ open and about the same number of varieties, the early cherry and all the P pissardi which is the best plant now, several Camellias including one Reticulata.

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