After yet another bout of wind and rain the sodden garden is rushing on to spring. Several magnolias have blown open here and there.
Rhododendron leucaspis now fully out.
Camellia ‘Mrs D W Davis’ now fully out despite some wind browning.
The New Zealand Magnolia ‘Lanarth’ just opening below Donkey Show.
A rather good Camellia reticulata seedling.
Camellia ‘Spring Frills’ (I think).
First buds showing colour on the pruned back Magnolia ‘Sweet Sixteen’.
Stachyurus lancifolia has sprung open earlier than usual. Now renamed Stachyurus praecox var. matsuzakii according to Hilliers who say it is tender and gets cut to the ground each winter. Not here for this Crûg wild collection plant which is now 10-12ft tall in as many years.
A red flowered sport on Camellia x williamsii ‘Galaxie’.
Carpinus kawakamii untouched by the east wind this time around. Still fully evergreen with us.
The quinces are finally rotting away.
Many of the red berries on Ilex kingiana have blown off in the wind.
Colour showing on Magnolia ‘Hot Lips’. The only magnolia in Kennel Close showing colour today. This one is not normally anywhere near being the first in this area.
Interesting bark on the trunk now of Dacrydium cupressinum. Again this tender conifer untouched by the Beast – about 15ft tall now.
Colours showing on Michelia ‘Fairy White’.
The huge Magnolia campbellii seedling above Crinodendron Hedge is bursting out in the wind and is now way ahead of the main tree. I checked this only two days ago and nothing showing.
Camellia ‘Dr Burnside’ full out. I do not see much difference between this and ‘Miss Charleston’ although the latter flowers later in the season.
Camellia ‘Faith’ with rather variable shaped flowers; some more semi-double than others. A 40 year old plant and one of the first camellia groups that I planted beside and below Donkey Shoe. One for Asia to add to the nursery cuttings list.
2020 – CHW
A regular reader of this blog writes about squirrel damage to the buds on the magnolias in her garden:And now I a bit about our magnolias which are doing exceptionally well after all this rains. The Harold Hillier is going to flower for the first time. We bought two years ago the magnolia J. C Williams and last year the only one bud was eaten by the squirrel. In fact the buds on Black Tulip, Apollo, Genie and Star Wars were also eaten. Taking into account that our trees are still small, the damage was devastating. We reduced the number of squirrels considerably ( we are close to 100 and the visiting fox is getting fat) in our area and this year J.C. produced close to 30 flower buds. Can’t wait.
They have my sympathies but have hopefully saved some buds from this year’s crop.
First flowers on a young Magnolia campbellii Alba Group by Donkey Shoe. A bought in grafted plant which is not true to our original Magnolia campbellii ‘Alba’. Quite a hint of pink in the tepals and therefore just a seedling of the true ‘Alba’. The shape of the flowers is more ‘Ethel Hillier’ or ‘Strybing White’. More stunted and less drooping than the true ‘Alba’ and with no pointed pyramidical centre to the flower as it opens. Not bad but a long way from the original. It could be the seedling ‘Ethel Hillier’ really or almost ‘Sir Harold Hillier’ which is yet another named ‘Alba’ seedling but nearer the true Chinese original.
The New Zealand form of Magnolia ‘Lanarth’ is at its absolute best today as is the true Magnolia campbellii subsp. mollicomata ‘Lanarth’ by the house. The two are very different. Karol and I make a vlog to go onto the Caerhays website (which you can see there) to explain the differences in more detail.
Arthur rang and mentioned a camellia near the Top Lodge with ‘double’ flowers on each twig. I find Camellia ‘Desire’ which is doing as he said. Several ‘twin’ flowers and one triple which seems a genetic mistake. Does ‘Desire’ do this in other gardens?
The view from the Drive to Giddle Orchard is impressive even on an overcast day.
Our best Cornus hongkongensis is blown over in one of the gales.
2019 – CHW
A trip to Old Park to view what I think is a poorish sister seedling (ie from same seedpod) of Magnolia ‘Caerhays Splendour’. The named plant is not yet showing. The buds here are not bad in colour but overall they fade quickly and this one is nice but not really worthy of a name.
Another sister seedling to M. ‘Caerhays Splendour’ resides by the gate into White Styles Field. I have missed the bud colour but this is even paler. When you do a three way cross between three magnolia varieties you must expect variation in its offspring. Fortunately we had the good luck to put the best (named) one in the best place! This one is fine to look at but nothing that special really.
2018 – CHW
A trip down Bond Street and across the moors to Penvergate.
Far too many rushes in the moor. A bit of ‘weed wiping’ needed soon.
A recent deer slot from a roe.
Difficult to believe that we felled all the bottom of Bond Street only 35 or so years ago.
No magnolia colour yet in Old Park.
Magnolia campbellii ‘Sidbury’ now full out in Penvergate two days on from when we last saw it.
A young Ilex latifolia about to come into flower in Penvergate. This one is not Ilex kingiana although the two are easily confused.
Holly berries (Ilex aquifolium) in Forty Acres have survived the winter uneaten. Quite unusual.
You should never leave an old tree when you make a clearing. Here on one of the three islands on the lake. It however made a good perch for an osprey travelling on migration a few years ago. Herons and egrets are fine with it too.
Some of the new growth on the Magnolia delavayi cut back last summer has been frosted in places but will recover. Elsewhere fine.
The Magnolia campbellii seedling outside the yard is just about out.
A bit of prerecording for next week’s ‘spring has sprung’ announcement outside the back yard with James from Heligan and Onshore Media. A very cold day with SE wind and these magnolias will probably be blown away by nightfall.
Then off to Tregrehan with Jaimie and Michael to look at camellia species and polyspora species. Tom Hudon’s analysis of polyspora is attached. Rather vital as we discovered they all look rather alike in flower. I am afraid I have made some horrendous errors in my diary about the identification of Caerhays camellia species all along. What I have been calling Camellia oleifera is in fact Camellia taliensis. A terrible mistake. Other issues will emerge as we go through the photographs of what we inspected.
This is Camellia sinensis var sinensis. Basically the true autumn flowering tea camellia. A dull plant with tiny flowers which looks like a vaccinum species from a distance. Nothing like the tea camellias at Tregothnan or what the nursery sells as C. sinensis. We take some cuttings for Asia.
Camellia reticulata ‘Arch of Triumph’ is very fine. See how the flower shape changes and increases as it develops. The colour pales too.
Camellia xylocarpa which has huge seed pods. Tom collected this in the wild. Not a lot to recommend the flowers but the leaves are easily identified and the seeds give it away. Again we take a few cuttings for Asia.
Rhododendron albotomentosum (arboreum series looking at its bark) was a Kingdom Ward collection from Mount Victoria in Burma. Tom’s father grows this in New Zealand.
Camellia chekiangoleosa has peculiar buds which look as though they have been frosted. We have a seed grown plant of this in the greenhouse. Maurice Foster grew this first in the UK and removed all the buds thinking they were dead. Droopy habit.
Polyspora longicarpa (formerly gordonia) – gordonias are now limited to American species and polyspora are the Asian ones. Tom has around 10 species but there is much muddle as we will see. Our two species at Caerhays may well both be incorrectly labelled.
The true Camellia taliensis (which I have been calling oleifera incorrectly for years). This plant is in total shade which ours are not.
Camellia crapnelliana seems to set tender and very odd new growth in March and September. As such it gets cut to the ground, as here, from time to time. Hong Kong species.
Camellia highnanensis grows on an island off the south coast of China. Also probably too tender to grow even in Cornwall.
Polyspora axillaris has a more shrubby habit without the tall central leader that most other polyspora species exhibit. No flowers here but a cold spot in the east wind today. P. axillaris is the only species from Taiwan.
Lindera cercidifolia is full out. A small tree with good bark and quite unlike ours which is shrubby and flowers later in the season. Much confusion in the reference books about this species.
Rhododendron protistum x Rhododendron macabeanum – very early into flower for a big leaf and very fine indeed.
Rhododendron giganteum just coming out beside it.
Polyspora speciosa with strong scent (very attractive) and pink in the petals. The best form/species seen so far today.
Polyspora yunnanensis (= longiocarpa as reclassified but doubts remain) nearly over. Odd flaking on the bark where the side branches have grown out from the main stem.
Perhaps the second best thing we saw out today with fabulous scent was a tree like Illicium macranthum. New species to us.
Camellia fraterna, which we grow too, needs to be on a bank as it has a droopy habit. We also have Camellia ‘Tiny Princess’ which has similar leaves. Both quite dull.
Euonymus japonicus ‘Wolong Ghost’ which Burncoose stocks. Here romping away up a tree. Tom plants vigorous climbers like this on the north side of trees and lets them grow round into the light. The attractive central variegation on the leaves is only evident on the lower growth at this time of the year.
So this is the true Camellia tsai. The plants at Caerhays which I have been gaily calling tsai for years are in fact Camellia cuspidata var cuspidata. I am not sure where the true tsai one grew here but I recognise the shape and habit. Perhaps behind the top wall? We have young plants in the ground now anyway and I am by no means certain that the young plants below Rookery Path and in the Rookery are all C. cuspidata as opposed to C. tsai. Another howling error of mine only brought to light by the argument over Trewithen’s C. cuspidata var grandiflora which is listed in their planting records as C. cuspidata x C. saluenensis, ie ‘Cornish Snow’ (see emails a week or two ago)!
Camellia lapidea is another dullish species in flower but with highly serrated leaves.
This is the true Camellia lutchuensis which is different from the Toots Williams plant pinched as seed from Hong Kong originally. We only have C. lutchuensis hybrids and not yet, I think, the real thing. Lutchuensis is easily identifiable as the new growth has a red tinge. We did however find a young unnamed species which Tom thinks might be Camellia caudata. If so it looks identical to the rather pretty Toots plant. It grows near Hong Kong in the wild too so this begins to make sense. Tom says that Camellia transnokoensis is now reclassified as a form of C. lutchuensis. Ours died in the cold in 2012.
These are all true forms of Camellia oleifera which is also autumn flowering. How I could have muddled this with Camellia taliensis beggars belief! We do have some hybrids but perhaps not the true species.
Rhododendron zeylanicum (arboreum ssp zeylanicum) is the best thing in the Tregrehan garden today. In the teeth of the wind by the car park. Fabulous!
Camellia bailingshanica – dull but rare!
Seedlings aplenty under another Camellia taliensis.
The tiny flowered Camellia kissii. We have tried this and lost it.
Camellia minor – dull too! Much like Camellia saluenensis I think as does Tom.
Camellia forrestii – I have wondered before why this has died out in cultivation when Forrest wrote about it so admiringly. We have a few young plants and here are Tom’s. A wonderful species which will become a garden favourite I expect. Nice bark striping too.
Pyrenaria spectabilis seems about halfway between a camellia species and a polyspora species (formerly called Tutcheria spectabilis). A totally new genus to me which, one day, we could perhaps try from cuttings from Tom. Autumn flowering from Yunnan. Here you see the fruits forming which are not camellia like at all nor like polyspora either.
The best polyspora which we saw in flower (most nearly over) was this one in the west garden. Polyspora longicarpa was a 20-25ft tree covered in flower today. We found some year old ripe fruits with seeds on another group nearby which Asia can try but I fear they will be too old to germinate. I need to rush and check the labelling on our two species which I fear may be labelled the wrong way around. The top bushy one is labelled P. longicarpa and the lower tall, single stemmed one is labelled Polyspora axillaris. The flowers will soon be over.
Shit, another silly blunder by us! Xanthocyparis vietnamensis has juvenile spiny growth which turns, as here in Tom’s three plants, to a cypress like tall growing tree. A quite extraordinary transformation at around 6-8ft. Two of Tom’s plants have virtually no juvenile growth left while the third has just started to metamorphose into something else. We must move our plant which is in a daft position for what it will clearly grow into. We had assumed it was a dwarf conifer and tender. Wrong on both counts. Asia should keep on propagating the juvenile growth on this extraordinary rarity.
So what have we learnt today? We do grow ancient plants of Camellia taliensis and Camellia cuspidata var cuspidata but we have lost our old Camellia tsai UNLESS this is the old plant which fell and is no reshooting on Burns Bank above the mounting block. No flowers on it this year.I am hopeful that Michael has pictures of Camellia cuspidata var cuspidata in Tom’s walled garden. I was too shocked at my longstanding error to take any.
Email from Tom hudon:-Hi Charles,
i thought the following paper would be interesting, as a follow up to the podo article.
I am sending some putative hybrid salignus material to Edinburgh next week for more DNA analysis.
That small plant of Podo. neriifolius you took came from Nth Vietnam.
I finally got round to looking at Toots camellia last night.
It came out as Camellia euryoides aff. As it had shrivalled somewhat it was hard to look at detail with the hand lens.
The camellia plant that looked similar near the walled garden turned out to be different and most likely Camellia fraterna.
When I was out last evening the Polyspora trees down the bottom still had exposed good white flowers and the temp. on the stump had been down to –4C.
So we can say that the Vietnamese speciosa and longicarpa flowers can withstand light frost for short periods.
Most tender plants look ok still, just hope we dont get a dumping tomorrow to break all the trees up.
I well remember your Dad laughing till he hurt when someone said they had been cold at –5C.
We then got the full chapter and verse of 1963…..
2017 – CHW
More murk and poor photographs.A trip to Old Park to view the first two magnolias out here. The first is a campbellii seedling from the same batch as we gave Lady Mary Holborow a plant when she retired. I think we dug it up from beside this one and I believe it has flowered at Ladock Rectory. This is not bad and the flowers will become larger and paler pink in due course.
These Camellia japonica seedlings were grown by us as children and planted en masse for Covent Garden foliage sales. Quite a few stems sent this week. As seedlings the plants are all slightly different in habit and the flowers can vary. Usually ‘pure’ Camellia japonica has few small red flowers but one of these here has lots of quite large ones opening flat. You do not of course want the flowers for foliage sales.
This Magnolia ‘Lanarth’ seedling just below the top gunnera patch is just out on the top ride. It is a good colour but this is lost in the drizzle and cloud today. I need to revisit when out further.
The first of the old fashioned double flowered daffodils (which are sterile and do not set seed) is just out by the fernery. There are many ancient clumps on Bond Street, by the Petrol House and on the path above Burns Bank.
A nice wild and natural clump of variable jonquils under the Magnolia dawsoniana outside the front gates. Survivors as hybrids from 100 year old crosses of JCW’s?
2016 – CHW
Magnolia ‘F J Williams’ which featured in yesterday’s article is absolutely full out today. Not a huge tree but plastered in flowers. Here are five varied pictures of FJW in ‘his’ pomp. Today its arguably better than ‘J C Williams’, ‘Philip Tregunna’ or ‘Delia Williams’ magnolias put together but all these are yet to come out so I am probably talking nonsense!
2015 – CHW
Rhododendron moupinense full out but the clump is aged and dying. Must prioritise for cuttings in June/July. Many of these early season flowerers with dwarfish habit are short lived – 30 to 40 years.
1969 – FJW
Peacock tapestry started – mild after bad week.1963 – FJW
East wind started again. No progress in the garden.1961 – FJW
Flowers on Mag campbellii and kobus – Magnolias held back. Picked flower on Macabeanum seedling. First time this species has flowered here. Reticulatas nearing best – 30 flowers on big [?]. Flowers on George’s Michelia.1955 – FJW
Nine or ten inches of snow on lawn. Church Hill drift still 3 ft deep on March 12th.
1929 – JCW
About a fortnight of cold has kept flowers back – no daffs in the Tin Garden, no ice on the pond.
1926 – JCW
50 or more Rhodo species show flower. Rhodo planetum is the best of them.
1925 – JCW
Not been out after tea yet, plenty of flowers but cold and rough.
1916 – JCW
The first turn after tea. A fair lot of daffs open well ahead of 1897 – frost now.
1912 – JCW
Magnolia halleana shows white.
1909 – JCW
Snowdrops on the drive and 20 Aconites, a good few Camellias open of different sorts. A few Tenby, Caerhays, Maximus and Jonquil seedlings open. Very near or in front of time.
1902 – JCW
None of the above. A few Minor, snowdrops and aconite at their best.
1901 – JCW
Prunus pissardi just open, a faint sign of colour on one Maximus but an odd H Irving and Tenby, but none of the above otherwise.
1899 – JCW
Nearly all the Maximus, H Irving and Tenby open, many Caerhays trumpets and one or two Cernuus, many R praecox, C indivisa open, some Italian trumpets.