2020 – CHW
William Hague is the first of the really senior former politicians to dare to write openly this week about the economic disaster that the government’s response to the pandemic has caused. As I reread what I wrote in this diary earlier in April and May I am startled at how shell shocked we were as a country by lockdown in late March and how little thought was given then to the economic consequences of preserving our health at all and every cost.
As the post mortems begin and blame is apportioned from an impoverished electorate and those now in poverty and on unemployment benefits there is little point repeating the obvious. Panic, overreaction, lack of a plan, consistent negativism and entitlement pleading from most of the media.
Self-publicising and media encouragement has given oxygen to minority views which are now portrayed as popular and overwhelmingly necessary impositions on us all. They are not! When will common sense be allowed to prevail over street marches, strikes and thuggery.
Much has changed and improved in our estate businesses during lockdown. Only a few staff will remain on furlough until the end of August and all will be working part time (we hope) by 4th July when tourism is to restart.
There have been very few winners in the pandemic but, almost by accident, Burncoose Nurseries found itself in a growth situation which, with a supreme staff effort, it was able to sustain. Luck came into it and the bad luck of a secondary outbreak of infection could yet undo the good work. However you can fight for your own luck too.
I have not written like this for a few weeks as time has been shorter now that the wheels are gently moving again. Finishing the first draft of the Burncoose catalogue introduction was completed this week. However, I hope that future generations enquiring into the pandemic and wondering about what happened and why will derive one perspective from these diary entries. The full accounts of my heroes and villains of all this are locked away privately for posterity.
It has been fun to write while it lasted but now back to plants only. The number of diary readers has grown during lockdown despite (or perhaps because?) my perspective having, very occasionally, offended particular sensitivities as regards reality.
Jaimie was tidying up in Penvergate and, while removing a fallen dead tree, discovered a young slowworm.
The war on squirrels continues as the first crops of this year’s youngsters start to roam. Seventy-five so far this year since January in the main gardens (and the same again from the keepers). Sadly more than last year at this stage. Out of today’s seven all but one were young males seeking out new territories to fill the voids which we have created in drays and old hollow trees from the spring clear out. The older females will soon be producing their second batch of youngsters to plague us come the autumn. Much less evidence of bark damage on 20 to 30 year old trees so far so we may be making inroads in what I fear is an unwinnable battle without contraception.
First flowering here of Syringa pekinensis ‘Yellow Fragrance’. Not very yellow when full out but superbly scented.
We missed a few Tilia species when recording their leaf shapes a month or so ago:Tilia japonica ‘Ernest Wilson’ – regrowth after the rain from earlier roe deer nibbling.
2019 – CHW
The casualties from the April/May dry weather in the Isla Rose Plantation are far worse than after last summer’s drought. At least a dozen deads show up today with several more borderline cases which further dry weather will finish off.
Nonetheless Styrax japonicus ‘Farges Belle’ is making good headway and flowering properly for the first time. Largish flowers but near enough to Styrax fargesii so as not to be worth a name?
What a fantastic plant Stewartia rostrata is. Despite what all the reference books say far and away the largest flower of any stewartia species. The buds are clothed in a reddish calyx and then emerge as pink buds. The open flower has pink blotches which remain pink even when the flowers are over and fall to the ground. The blotches are irregular and most pronounced in full sun. The blotching is on both sides of the petals. Not all the flowers come out at once so, even in hot periods, there is something to see for three to four weeks or more. One of our plants is in full shade and not out yet. Even last year’s seed pods which remain on the tree look interesting. Some flowers, when fully open flat, are 2.5in or 6-7cm across. What about that for a flowering tree in a woodland garden in mid/late June. AND the gorgeous purple/black autumn colour to come. It is a no brainer to add this to your collection!
The Wollemia nobilis or Wollemi pine has struggled at Burncoose for the last 10 years. It is now 7-8ft tall and I discover today male and female flowers for the first time. Presumably the females are the darker cone-like flowers lower down and the two male flowers are green. Perhaps I have this the wrong way around?
Beware the hornets are active around and about in the gardens. Not Brexit deniers from the continent I hope?
The Father’s Day charity fete was a tremendous success with at least 3,500 people attending the event (2,000 paying £3.00, 1,200 children free and 300 performers and stall holders). Probably the largest public event at Caerhays since 1977 when Jeremy Brett and Joanna David opened a similar fete here following the filming of the BBC remake of Rececca at Caerhays.
1990 – FJW
Walk with Philip. Flowers on following rhod – auritum, discolor, falconeri, argyrophyllum, macrostemon, decorum x by Diva, souliei x campylocarpum, lepidostylum, megacalyx, oreotrephes, Harrows hybrid and CW’s Harrows hybrids x, eriogynum, griersonianum, weyrichii, orbiculare, Tally Ho x Elliotii, stamineum, hypoglaucum, floccigerum, apodectum, didymum x, pink decorum x, venator, wilsons fortunei ( in quarry), the latter outstanding with Discolor in the A.G. – others not. Tropaeolum speciosum, Eucryphia intermedia (above Orchid House), Styrax wilsoni, Cornus cuspidata, kousa and walteri, Kalmia, Euonymus wilsonii, Styrax japonica (at its best) ditto Magnolia macrophylla – Mag sieboldii. Camellia mathotiana alba in two places flower vase worthy. A good soak yesterday.
1986 – FJW
The heaviest 24 hrs of rain I have seen – a thunderstorm for nearly 48 hrs – but a flower still visible on the early large un-named Williamsii by the front gate.