2023 – CHW
A young plant in Tin Garden of Camellia x williamsii ‘St Michael’.
Flowers on a young Rhododendron davidsonianum.
Magnolia ‘Star Wars’ has colour.
Camellia reticulata ‘Mark Allen’.
First flowering here of Sarcococca balansae (WSWJ 7285)
Nearly out also in the Rookery is Sarcococca zeylanica (BSWJ 10199).
2022 – CHW
First flowers nearly out on a fairly impure Rhododendron grande seedling. Several of these have come out elsewhere as pink forms but they have more conventional grande leaf forms.
Deer nibbling on fatsia leaves – the keepers had one the other day which is a start to the spring cull. Essential!
First flowers out on a group of Camellia ‘Fairy Blush’ at the top of the plants.
First flower on a non-variegated branch of Camellia x williamsii ‘Golden Spangles’.
Camellia grijsii now full out but not smelling much today.
Camellia grijsii and Illicium majus provide an interesting contrast at Donkey Shoe.
Only a single flower so far on Camellia x williamsii ‘Jovey Carlyon’ at Donkey Shoe.
Daphne bholua ‘Gurkha’ is now full out and scenting the drive beautifully. What outstanding plants D. bholua are!
Daphne bholua ‘Limpsfield’ beside it is just about there as well (while ‘Mary Rose’ is not yet properly out).
Two fallen seedpods from Magnolia rostrata are still unripe but should now dry off and open to shed their individual seeds before long.
2021 – CHW
Milder after rain but more cold weather forecast for the next 10 days. The forecasters warn of another ‘Beast from the East’.A few flowers on one of a small clump of what are said to be Rhododendron ‘Mrs Butler’ seedlings in the plans. Hardly accurate but quite nice today. Two more still to flower.
A pheasant has pecked off the flower head of the first snowdrop to appear but did not bother eating it.
A good sized flower on this young Camellia reticulata.
Still a tail end flower or two on Camellia sasanqua ‘Narumigata’ despite the frosts.
The two Magnolia dawsoniana are now finally leafless. Typical branch formation for this species – lots of spreading branches from low down at the base of the tree.
A few small ripe quinces on Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Geisha Girl’. We saw more of these earlier in the autumn when still green.
2020 – CHW
Flowers nearly out on Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’. They have rushed on in a week.
I do not remember seeing viable and ripe seed pods on any of our original Camellia sasanquas before. Yes, I have seen a few in the green in the summer, but never fully ripe as here. This was the first plant of the batch to flower in September (pale pink) and it has only just finished flowering so these must be autumn 2018’s flowers which only now have ripe seeds. Only one of the original plants has seed pods today. Mostly the seed pods contain just one seed covered by three outer sections. One or two seed heads may have had up to three seeds but they have shed already. Not really worth collecting the seed as cuttings produce a bigger plant more quickly.
Camellia x williamsii ‘Rosemary Williams’ is suddenly now full out by the Georgian Hall. This has happened in the last few dry days.
2019 – CHW
First flowers out on Rhododendron barbatum.
Flower buds as yet not quite out on Fatsia polycarpa which was such a great show at this time last year.
Schefflera pauciflora now has ripe seed at the top of the plant ready for collection by Asia.
Schefflera aff. myriocarpa which was in flower in November now has a crop of seed but they are by no means fully ripe yet. Will not be long by the look of it.
2018 – CHW
Just one flower on Camellia ‘Jovey Carlyon’ by Donkey Shoe. Rather yellow leaves in the sun here and a slightly drooping or floppy habit.
These two plants of Cephalotaxus fortunei were plastered in flower last spring. So much so that the branches gave off huge clouds of pollen dust. On passing I wondered if they were both now covered in flower heads or seeds. Looking closely it would seem to be new flower heads in profusion. I must assume that both the plants pictured with admittedly rather different growth habits are both males? Hillier’s refer to female forms of this plum yew. A very odd but exciting plant.
Cupressus tortulosa is also covered in flower buds when you examine the twigs closely. Looks a rather tender and brittle evergreen.
Ilex kingiana has a full set of berries but, as usual, by no means are all of them ripe yet. They will all be a very bright red by March. This tree self seeds itself (via birds) here and there all over the garden.
The elderly quince tree below Slip Rail has a few early flowers, quite a bit of new growth and some shrivelled up old fruits still holding on the branches. All quite odd. You would have thought that the quinces would have dropped off in autumn or at least been eaten by something however nauseous the smell (which it is to me).
2017 – CHW
Last year the Pseudocydonia sinensis had a full set of new leaves and new growth but little evidence of this this year.
Priority job to remove the ivy on the drive from many deciduous azaleas this spring. Quite a big one now too! Several azalea clumps will need to be cut down in the process to reshoot.
More aucuba clumps now stone dead by the Hovel. This is a progressive phytopthora which only affects aucuba as we have seen before.
2016 – CHW
The first magnolia has blown open (two flowers) outside the back arch on this rain sodden weekend. Not a bad colour considering! This is a hybrid between Magnolia mollicomata and Magnolia campbellii and is generally out pretty early in March or even February. In 2010 or 2011 we had a magnolia flower on the table at a shooting lunch in very late January but this beats all known or conceivable records by about a month. Quite staggering and potentially hugely dangerous for our spring season to come.What I can say with great certainty is that in translating the last 100 plus years of the family Garden Diary back to 1897 this is a uniquely early magnolia season.Sadly the gardens do not open until 22nd February.
Philip Tidball, the headkeeper, tells me at midday that there is another magnolia out above the greenhouse and, on investigation, it is actually full out.Planted in 2007 this is a US hybrid bred by Todd Gresham called ‘Todds Forty-Niner’ (his 49th cross made in 1964) which we have known to be early but never this early!
It has now rained for three days virtually nonstop so these magnolia pictures will be poor in the rain but it stops mid morning.
2001 – FJW
1933 – JCW
Very little in flower, exception 8 Hamamelis mollis. Camellia speciosa, the early form, is very good.
1929 – JCW
Much as in 1926, H mollis v.g., flowers cut out by 7 or 8 days of frost, ½ “ of ice on frames tank.
1926 – JCW
Mucronulatum has not been good so far but H mollis is good, very good, the heaths are coming on and not much else.
1923 – JCW
10 to 12 species of Rhodo give an odd flower or so, mucronulatum has been very good, Scabrifolium will be very good, Hamamelis mollis is beautiful and so is Erica darleyense.
1918 – JCW
Just as above but a bit further on with a snowdrop or two, an aconite or two, mucronulatum having gone over. The Nobleanums have been very nice. Narcissus cyclamineus is open and the Cyclamen coum are fair. One good blood red hybrid is open near Engine House.
1917 – JCW
Hamamelis mollis is nice in the new planting, a flower or two open on Dahuricum and Mucronulatum , the two best early shrubs we have as yet, frost has only lately left us.
1908 – JCW
Some Aconites open, Acacia dealbata and the Coums are both good, a Camellia or two open.
1898 – JCW
The first Aconite.
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