21st January

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

2021 – CHW

An interesting online Plant Heritage webinar yesterday about bamboos after viewing 13 of our younger accessions in recent days. Lots of ideas for new additions to the collection if I can find where to purchase them. We have never grown any Borinda species. Borinda papyrifera has gorgeous blue canes.

Other welcome additions to the collection would be:

Fargesia scabrinda

Phyllostachys bambusoides ‘Castillonis Inversa’

Indocalamus tessellatus and Indocalamus latifolius

Helen Chen, who gave the talk, said there are 200 species and cultivars of bamboo which are hardy enough to grow and are growing in the UK. Some, mainly ‘runner’ forming bamboo species, never set seed and then die (eg Sasa, Pseudosasa and Pleioblastus). ‘Clump’ forming species have variable periods between flowering/death which can range from 20 to 80 years. Some flower more often than others. Purchasers beware!

Chusquea gigantea has seeded and died here last year as it has all over the UK (and all over the world). Need to go and collect seed from ours although we have found in other species that many seedlings, after a flowering, simply flower and die as well.

The species which have seeded and, in part, died out in my lifetime include:

Fargesia nitida – 10 years or so ago at Caerhays and Burncoose

Fargesia murielie – more recently at Burncoose and in nursery plants

Pseudosasa japonica – common Cornish windbreak plant which flowered circa 30 years ago. Some isolated survivors at Burncoose.

Arundinaria gigantea (possibly subsp. tecta) – grew as a huge clump with massive tall culms in the Auklandii Garden and flowered and died circa 50 years ago. The nearest I have ever seen to this in cane size since was the Phyllostachys edulis at Trebah. A replacement plant here of A. gigantea tecta in the Rookery still looks nothing like what I remember and is probably incorrectly named.

Semiarundinaria fastuosa – distant memories of a flowering here and some seeding this year below the dog kennels in Old Park

Other things emerged from the talk:

1. Our Chimonobambusa tumidissinoda growing in Kennel Close is, Chen believes, the most invasive species of the lot. Even worse than the horrid Chimonobambusa quadrangularis by the pond at Burncoose. As we saw last week all five clumps of the first 2011 bamboo plantings in Kennel Close are much the same size today and the Fargesias there are just as invasive as the Chimonobambusa when grown in the open in full sun and good soil.

2. There are three species of large caned bamboo planted 2003-5 above Hovel Cart Road which are unnamed and not on the plan. Also a 2007 planted Chusquea culeou which I need to try to find and identify.

3. The recently deceased/flowered Fargesia murielie was a Wilson introduction named after his daughter, Muriel.

4. The 1665 great plague in the UK post-dated a massive bamboo inflorescence in China which led to an equally massive explosion in the rat population eating the bamboo seeds and then spreading plague to Europe. Bamboo flowerings kill pandas and always have been viewed by the Chinese as a bad omen. I wonder if China has a similar massive flowering in its bamboo species today?! I dare say the flat earth nutters on social media will draw a correlation with COVID anyway but it was not rats this time but the Chinese themselves! (Trump was right on that.)

5. I am not sure that we have actually got the naming of Sasa palmata f. nebulosa correct at Burncoose if the photographs Helen Chen showed us are correct? Not sure!

6. The problem with bamboo species identification is that you often need to see the new shoots emerging from the ground to make a proper identification. Loads of confusion in the naming of old bamboo clumps at Burncoose as we know.

7. All bamboos are woody stemmed members of the grass family lest we forget!

We have looked recently at 13 different bamboo species. Here is the rest of the Caerhays collection:

These spreading clumps in the Rookery are not invasive and have been here for 60 years; very probably nearer 100. I had guessed they were Phyllostachys bissettii but the reference books draw me more to Phyllostachys dulcis because of the culm. Frankly I have no idea. The tallest canes are easily 30ft tall.

Phyllostachys dulcis
Phyllostachys dulcis
Phyllostachys dulcis
Phyllostachys dulcis
Phyllostachys dulcis
Phyllostachys dulcis
Phyllostachys dulcis
Phyllostachys dulcis
This is a 2011 planted Himonobambus (now renamed x Phyllosasa) tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’. Currently grows to 10-12ft with very variable but attractive variegation beside the Tin Garden.
Himonobambus (now renamed x Phyllosasa) tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’
Himonobambus (now renamed x Phyllosasa) tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’
Himonobambus (now renamed x Phyllosasa) tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’
Himonobambus (now renamed x Phyllosasa) tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’
Himonobambus (now renamed x Phyllosasa) tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’
Himonobambus (now renamed x Phyllosasa) tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’
Himonobambus (now renamed x Phyllosasa) tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’
Himonobambus (now renamed x Phyllosasa) tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’
This is Phyllostachys vivax f. aureocaulis I am moderately certain. Planted 2005 above Hovel Cart Road or slightly earlier. It is definitely a ‘runner’ and not a ‘clumper’ as you can see from its spread in these pictures. The younger canes are green with a yellow stripe and the older canes are yellowish. Mature canes are at least 20ft. We put this in as a windbreak which it clearly is not!
Phyllostachys vivax f. aureocaulis
Phyllostachys vivax f. aureocaulis
Phyllostachys vivax f. aureocaulis
Phyllostachys vivax f. aureocaulis
Phyllostachys vivax f. aureocaulis
Phyllostachys vivax f. aureocaulis
Phyllostachys vivax f. aureocaulis
Phyllostachys vivax f. aureocaulis
This is, I think, Sasa tsuboiana (same as Burncoose one below pump house). Three plants went in and they remain three tightish clumps with Sasa like leaves as you can see. 6-8ft in height in 15+ years.
Sasa tsuboiana
Sasa tsuboiana
Sasa tsuboiana
Sasa tsuboiana
Sasa tsuboiana
Sasa tsuboiana
I have absolutely no idea about this medium sized bamboo which is again a ‘clumper’. This is also circa 2005 planted and has decent culms even in January. About 12ft in the main and three plants originally still have not completely merged.
no idea
no idea
no idea
no idea
no idea
no idea
no idea
no idea
These three plants are ‘runners’ but, as you can see, the single runs go in a very straight line between and from the original clumps. Helen Chen did mention a species which had this characteristic which I thought was Phyllostachys bambusoides. Clearly we do not yet have fully mature canes as yet. These three are nearest the path from Donkey Shoe as you turn to the top of Hovel Cart Road before the lower laurel hedge.
‘runners’
‘runners’
‘runners’
‘runners’
‘runners’
‘runners’
‘runners’
‘runners’
‘runners’
‘runners’
‘runners’
‘runners’
Yushina anceps has not flowered in my lifetime and here, above the greenhouse, has made an attractive and dense windbreak. A real spreader but the stimmer keeps it in check.
Yushina anceps
Yushina anceps
Yushina anceps
Yushina anceps
Yushina anceps
Yushina anceps
Despite not being on the plan for the area above the greenhouse this (from memory) was planted as Phyllostachys edulis. The quickly emerging and massive new shoots have been photographed for this diary a few times. It is a real spreader as these above ground runners show as well as the new canes cut off to keep the clump in check. The canes are far from mature as yet although planted in 2006/7. It is not yet anything like as good as the mature Trebah clump but we live in hope.
Phyllostachys edulis
Phyllostachys edulis
Phyllostachys edulis
Phyllostachys edulis
Phyllostachys edulis
Phyllostachys edulis
Phyllostachys edulis
Phyllostachys edulis
At the top of the Auklandii Garden beside Magnolia ‘Mr Julian’ sits in shade what I think (memory again) is Thalmnocalamus crassinodus. It has been in place for 12 or 15 years and looked a small growing clump forming plant until it has recently run out its first rather larger individual cane to the side. Very beautiful drooping foliage in the shade. Older immature canes are now 10-12ft tall.
Thalmnocalamus crassinodus
Thalmnocalamus crassinodus
Thalmnocalamus crassinodus
Thalmnocalamus crassinodus
Thalmnocalamus crassinodus
Thalmnocalamus crassinodus
Thalmnocalamus crassinodus
Thalmnocalamus crassinodus

Down beside the lake there are massive clumps of just two species which can clearly be seen in 100 year old photographs:

Sasa palmata f. nebulosa grows to about 10-12ft in a dense clump around and enjoying the septic tank. Lovely culms and a good windbreak if you have the room and plenty of space. Hardy beyond belief – even if you burn it to the ground it soon reshoots.

Sasa palmata f. nebulosa
Sasa palmata f. nebulosa
Sasa palmata f. nebulosa
Sasa palmata f. nebulosa
Sasa palmata f. nebulosa
Sasa palmata f. nebulosa
I have always called this Phyllostachys flexuosa and it grows by the pond at Burncoose too where it tries, as here, to run wild.
Phyllostachys flexuosa
Phyllostachys flexuosa
Phyllostachys flexuosa
Phyllostachys flexuosa
Phyllostachys flexuosa
Phyllostachys flexuosa
Phyllostachys flexuosa
Phyllostachys flexuosa
A good clump now in the teeth of the wind on one of the three islands is Phyllostachys aurea. Other bamboo species planted on the islands could not take the wind.
Phyllostachys aurea
Phyllostachys aurea

This gives us a collection of around 25 species and varieties. There may be two more below the dog kennels in Old Park where there are a few surviving small clumps of Pseudosasa japonica. One may well be Semiarundinaria fastuosa. We have planted Sasa veitchii in the Rookery windbreak but it did not prosper. We used to grow Pleioblastus simonii below Noahs Ark but this went when we dredged the pond. There is still a small cane or two of Arundinaria gigantea subsp. tecta above and below Rookery Gate. Chusquea gigantea is dead and Chusquea culeou has vanished from Hovel Cart Road.Burncoose has rather more varieties than us and the nursery of course stocks Sasa (now Saesella) ramosa as well as other dwarf growers including Shibataea kumasasa, Pleioblastus variegatus, Pleioblastus vividistriatus and Pleioblastus pygmaeus. In circa 1900 Burncoose garden was said to have 100 varieties of bamboo but I suspect the Chinese collectors called the same thing by many different names and who knows how many have flowered and died since. I have my doubts about the 100 ever being true. Today perhaps 40 and the nursery sells around 25 species.

Do I actually like bamboos and all the constant renaming of the difficult enough specie names? They have their place I suppose but I am only a part time fan! Over the years several experts have violently disagreed in trying to name elderly clumps at Burncoose. The problem for us all is that there are huge variations between immature and mature canes. Give me a ‘clumper’ rather than a ‘runner’ every time!

2020 – CHW
Still one clump of seed pods attached to the old Lithocarpus pachyphyllus. This one is the last to fall.

Lithocarpus pachyphyllus
Lithocarpus pachyphyllus
Daphne bholua ‘Mary Rose’ just coming out in pots outside the front door. I think this is by far the best of the bholuas.
Daphne bholua ‘Mary Rose’
Daphne bholua ‘Mary Rose’
Daphne bholua ‘Mary Rose’
Daphne bholua ‘Mary Rose’
Daphne bholua ‘Mary Rose’
Daphne bholua ‘Mary Rose’
Forty squirrels in the last two weeks. Finally the problem is under control thanks to sunflower seeds!

2019 – CHW
At last, after a fortnight of shooting hell and the funeral, time to see properly how ridiculously far ahead the magnolias are in this still mild January.To my horror I spot a few flowers on the magnolia through the arch from the front door. This was the first campbellii x mollicomata seedling out last year and in the years since we have lived here. Never quite as early as this though.
magnolia through the arch
magnolia through the arch
magnolia through the arch
magnolia through the arch
Just two or three flowers on the original Magnolia campbellii. Not as ‘bad’ as I had feared.
Magnolia campbellii
Magnolia campbellii
One flower out on the yellow form of Magnolia campbellii. A little misshapen and blown open but distinctly yellow and rather fine.
yellow form of Magnolia campbellii
yellow form of Magnolia campbellii
yellow form of Magnolia campbellii
yellow form of Magnolia campbellii
Magnolia ‘Todds Fortyniner’ now fully out after showing colour by Christmas Day. The best thing in the garden today.
Magnolia ‘Todds Fortyniner’
Magnolia ‘Todds Fortyniner’
Magnolia ‘Todds Fortyniner’
Magnolia ‘Todds Fortyniner’
All in all not quite as far forward as I had feared but still ridiculously early.

2018 – CHW
A start to the new plant sales area beside the new shop. Still a month to go until the gardens open so plenty still to do.

new plant sales area
new plant sales area

2017 – CHW
First flowers on Camellia x williamsii ‘Muskoka’. Muskoka is a township in northern Canada where my grandmother’s family lived. Definitely rather late this year. My grandmother was the seventh of seven children and married my grandfather at the age of 16 I think.
Camellia x williamsii ‘Muskoka’
Camellia x williamsii ‘Muskoka’

2016 – CHW
Two rows of camellias below the Meliosma veitchiorum have been ‘hat standed’ to reshoot. Some are probably not now worth their place and can be dug out. The third row can stay for a bit as a windbreak but there is another big clump of Camellia saluensis / williamsii types nearby (unnamed) which are for the chop shortly and can then be dug out. More change and ongoing rejuvenation.
Two rows of camellias
Two rows of camellias


1991 – FJW
Frogs cavorting and spawning in Philips pond. MILD – snowdrops open.1977 – FJW
Aunt Mary died.1968 – FJW
David picked first daffodil.

1931 – JCW
The first small bit of moupinense open.
(Handwritten note taped in Garden Book):
I put about 15-20 cuttings under a bell glass in no 4 Tin Garden, they were off Forrest evergreen Oak just north of the big Lindera.

1926 – JCW
R mucronulatum now at its best, some moupinense open later far than 1920, R lutescens has had bits open since Oct.

1920 – JCW
H mollis is going over, R moupinense has been very good, the Blood red hybrids coming to be good, and the irroratums with hairs show flowers for the first time. The first cyclamineus open.

1919 – JCW
Hamamelis mollis very good indeed and so since Christmas. E darleyense very nice, nobleanum fair. One very nice moupinense. I picked some Blood Red hybrids and some Sutchuenense, Lutescens and Barbatum a fair bit out.

1917 – JCW
A fortnights cold and frost nothing moving. Hamamelis mollis has been good for a month and in all the frost and snow.

1910 – JCW
All far behind the above, Snowdrops open by the Dining Room, others show colour. N calathinus one or two, a few Aconites, a nice lot of coums, a few of the Ericas.

1906 – JCW
Yellow crocus open some time, six or seven minimus and cyclamineus seedlings open, Camellia Japonica open, Ericas good, ½ daffs well above ground. P megasoefolia, very good.

1905 – JCW
Cyclamineus and minimus have been open two or three days only one flower, C coum at its best, P megasoefolia is good. Crocus imperati, Snowdrops and Aconite well out.

1901 – JCW
Cyclamineus open.

1899 – JCW
One third of the snowdrops open, several wild primroses, Seedling Maximus open, Golden Bell well through the ground,many crocus open; nearly all Engelhard’s poeticus through; many Minimus open, two year old seedlings in the open frame just coming up; Sir Watkin hardly up, Princep Mary ¼ of them up. Four sorts of Polyanthus open.

1896 – JCW
I saw one flower of Rhodoⁿ Praecox out.