1st May

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

2020 – CHW

Touching base with other members of the Great Gardens of Cornwall we think it unlikely that any gardens as such will be open much before July. The National Trust and those estate businesses with large parklands may be able to do something sooner and are planning as such.

We would normally close the gardens and house on 20th June as we have done since 1992. The reasoning for this is that we are a spring garden with nothing much in flower after that.

More importantly, it takes three months for the team to cut the grass (or trash as we call it) over 140 acres. Until this is done the woodland garden looks pretty unkempt. I suppose we could charge very little for a woodland walk but gearing up all the staff, labels etc for a week or two seems scarcely worth the effort and would have minimal impact on the revenues already lost. Once the beach is open again and the cliff walks that is more what families will want. With no tearoom or shop either due to social distancing and continuing restrictions on catering outlets is there any point? Even if ‘woodland walks’ are to be allowed soon.

We are left with two years marketing costs for our spring season and only one year of income. So the undistributed garden leaflets and the Great Garden ones can be kept for 2021 to save the large printing and distribution costs. PR and social media stuff is on hold probably to Christmas and the marketing team will probably have to stay on furlough until the end of June while we decide on future revised business plans. The holiday lets and The Vean may eventually grab some summer bookings but our spring house and garden visitors are gone for this year.

Guidance from English Heritage says that we should try to catch up with the opening days lost ‘if possible’ under our heritage scheme. It is not ‘possible’ to ask the plants to flower again before next spring so I guess that counts as ‘not possible’! How can you socially distance a house tour of 15 to 20 people anyway?

I have just completed the 2021 proof for the next Burncoose Nurseries catalogue. 200+ new plant entries already. Completed two to three months earlier than usual but I had better not write the catalogue introduction until we know where all this ends up.

Camellia ‘Mathotiana Alba’ is always one of the last camellias to have a decent show in May.

Camellia ‘Mathotiana Alba’
Camellia ‘Mathotiana Alba’
Quercus mongolica coming into leaf.
Quercus mongolica
Quercus mongolica
Fagus sylvatica ‘Bicolor Sartini’ especially attractive today. I had never seen it before just into leaf.
Fagus sylvatica ‘Bicolor Sartini’
Fagus sylvatica ‘Bicolor Sartini’
Fagus sylvatica ‘Bicolor Sartini’
Fagus sylvatica ‘Bicolor Sartini’
Fagus sylvatica ‘Bicolor Sartini’
Fagus sylvatica ‘Bicolor Sartini’
Crataegus wattiana is a new 2021 addition to the Burncoose catalogue. Large flower clusters. This species is thornless and quick growing.
Crataegus wattiana
Crataegus wattiana
Crataegus wattiana
Crataegus wattiana
Crataegus wattiana
Crataegus wattiana
Fagus sylvatica ‘Black Swan’ good too in the sun.
Fagus sylvatica ‘Black Swan’
Fagus sylvatica ‘Black Swan’
Fagus sylvatica ‘Black Swan’
Fagus sylvatica ‘Black Swan’
Salix moupinense (from Tom Hudson / Vietnam) is very different from Salix fargesii despite what the reference books say. I had not seen the catkins before standing upright on the stems.
Salix moupinense
Salix moupinense
Salix moupinense
Salix moupinense
Salix moupinense
Salix moupinense
Quercus x bushii ‘Seattle Trident’ – simply gorgeous new growth.
Quercus x bushii ‘Seattle Trident’
Quercus x bushii ‘Seattle Trident’
Quercus x bushii ‘Seattle Trident’
Quercus x bushii ‘Seattle Trident’
Magnolia ‘Ossie’s Yellow’ shaping up quite well.
Magnolia ‘Ossie’s Yellow’
Magnolia ‘Ossie’s Yellow’
Crataegus schraderiana is another new species which will be in the 2021 Burncoose catalogue. Just buds for now but interesting leaves with an odd silvery hue.
Crataegus schraderiana
Crataegus schraderiana
Deutzia x rosea ‘Yuki Cherry Blossom’ just out. Rounded habit so far.
Deutzia x rosea ‘Yuki Cherry Blossom’
Deutzia x rosea ‘Yuki Cherry Blossom’
Another small hedge pruning which would not have happened yet without lockdown. Some trimming up of lower branches on young trees nearby too. It is the small bits that make the difference to improving the shape for the future and giving more room for other things to thrive unobstructed.
hedge pruning
hedge pruning
This was Magnolia sprengeri ‘Copeland Court’ which was caught in early leaf by the 2018 Beast from the East. Starting to reshoot as I had hoped after two major cutbacks last year. I started with a handsaw but the real dieback needed a chainsaw.
Magnolia sprengeri ‘Copeland Court’
Magnolia sprengeri ‘Copeland Court’
Prunus pendula ‘Stellata’ hidden away but rather good today. I had thought it was a malus but it was properly labelled from 25 years ago. Not a plant I remember ever seeing in flower before. It would make a good new plant for the catalogue.
Prunus pendula ‘Stellata’
Prunus pendula ‘Stellata’
Prunus pendula ‘Stellata’
Prunus pendula ‘Stellata’
Prunus pendula ‘Stellata’
Prunus pendula ‘Stellata’
Azalea ‘Caerhays Lavender’ full out. You can hardly see the white new growth now.
Azalea ‘Caerhays Lavender’
Azalea ‘Caerhays Lavender’
Azalea ‘Caerhays Lavender’
Azalea ‘Caerhays Lavender’
Azalea ‘Black Hawk’ looking quite dazzling too.
Azalea ‘Black Hawk’
Azalea ‘Black Hawk’
Fiax baruminia according to the label. Possibly spelt wrong. No idea what it is and not in (even the new) Hillier’s. Very attractive yellow new growth.
Fiax baruminia
Fiax baruminia
Fiax baruminia
Fiax baruminia

2019 – CHW

Another day of garden tours and then off to Exbury.

Fallen flowers under Rhododendron keysii. The plant is 30 years old and has grossly over-flowered. I fear it will now die.

Rhododendron keysii
Rhododendron keysii
Viburnum prunifolium in full flower. When I photographed this in fruit last autumn I fear I photographed the wrong plant which was actually an Eleutherococcus.
Viburnum prunifolium
Viburnum prunifolium
Viburnum prunifolium
Viburnum prunifolium
Viburnum prunifolium
Viburnum prunifolium
Rhododendron ‘Graziella’ just coming into flower by Georges Hut – now on the Burncoose website.
Rhododendron ‘Graziella’
Rhododendron ‘Graziella’
Rhododendron ‘Graziella’
Rhododendron ‘Graziella’
At last a half decent flower on a young Rhododendron orbiculare. So many of the seedlings we have grown have very poor flowers in comparison to the original Forrest collection.
Rhododendron orbiculare
Rhododendron orbiculare
Rhododendron orbiculare
Rhododendron orbiculare

Then to David Lees’ former nursery near Lymington. The nursery has now closed and houses are being built but the garden is full of surprises.A Wisteria floribunda ‘Rosea’ looking perfect.

Wisteria floribunda ‘Rosea’
Wisteria floribunda ‘Rosea’
A hedging Mahonia in full flower with small leaves. Growing to 6-8ft with a similar spread. One to look up and stock ourselves.
Hedging Mahonia
Hedging Mahonia
Hedging Mahonia
Hedging Mahonia
Hedging Mahonia
Hedging Mahonia
Is this a Syringa species or not? A bushy small shrub with pinnate leaves and light mauve flowers in terminal clusters. Another one to identify.
Syringa species
Syringa species
Syringa species
Syringa species
Syringa species
Syringa species

2018 – CHW
These are an assortment of my father’s rhododendron hybrids. All are nice enough but nothing is outstanding or different enough to merit naming or registering. A lot of effort over 20 years to grow these from seed to flowering sized plants now consigned to obscurity!

rhododendron hybrids
rhododendron hybrids
This one is however a bit different! Jaimie’s cross of Rhododendron calophytum with Rhododendron ‘Titness Park’. An odd cross perhaps as ‘Titness Park’ is itself a Savill Garden calophytum cross. Rather good as it opens but fading to white. Worth naming?
Rhododendron calophytum with Rhododendron ‘Titness Park’
Rhododendron calophytum with Rhododendron ‘Titness Park’
A robin has nested and laid in one of our many new nest boxes only erected 10 days ago.
robin has nested
robin has nested
Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Woodsman’ x ‘Pink Surprise’ is rather insipid above Crinodendron Hedge.
Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Woodsman’ x ‘Pink Surprise’
Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Woodsman’ x ‘Pink Surprise’
Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Woodsman’ x ‘Pink Surprise’
Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Woodsman’ x ‘Pink Surprise’
Another Magnolia ‘Yuchelia’, later out than the original and nearby.
Magnolia ‘Yuchelia’
Magnolia ‘Yuchelia’
Magnolia ‘Yuchelia’
Magnolia ‘Yuchelia’
Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Black Beauty’ is very fine and black as it opens.
Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Black Beauty’
Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Black Beauty’
Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Black Beauty’
Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Black Beauty’
Another new one to us flowering for the first time; Magnolia ‘Ossie’s Yellow’, as yet nothing special.
Magnolia ‘Ossie’s Yellow’
Magnolia ‘Ossie’s Yellow’
A clump of the dwarfish Rhododendron tethropeplum which I had forgotten about.
Rhododendron tethropeplum
Rhododendron tethropeplum
Rhododendron tethropeplum
Rhododendron tethropeplum
Another two year old clump of Enkianthus serrulatus flowering for the first time.
Enkianthus serrulatus
Enkianthus serrulatus
Enkianthus campanulatus ‘Ruby Glow’ just out. Also a newly planted group and with loads of flower.
Enkianthus campanulatus ‘Ruby Glow’
Enkianthus campanulatus ‘Ruby Glow’
Then a big excitement. A new Enkianthus campanulatus variety called ‘Showy Lantern’ out for the first time. A clump of three plants above the greenhouse. Very good!
Enkianthus campanulatus variety called ‘Showy Lantern’
Enkianthus campanulatus variety called ‘Showy Lantern’
Enkianthus campanulatus variety called ‘Showy Lantern’
Enkianthus campanulatus variety called ‘Showy Lantern’
A daffodil clump still out on the day we say hooray for the start of outdoor sex!
daffodil clump
daffodil clump

2017 – CHW A day with Gerry and Louisa finalising the detailed Chelsea Flower Show plans and, more importantly, inspecting the plants themselves in the show tunnel. With such an early year in the garden and the rhododendrons full out three weeks earlier than normal it was with some trepidation and pessimism that I entered the main show tunnel.

I needn’t have worried! The show tunnel plants are in startlingly good order; glowing in leaf and with buds in all directions.

Show Tunnel May 2017
Show Tunnel May 2017
Show Tunnel May 2017
Show Tunnel May 2017
Show Tunnel May 2017
Show Tunnel May 2017
Show Tunnel May 2017
Show Tunnel May 2017
Show Tunnel May 2017
Show Tunnel May 2017
A beschorneria has a huge flowering spike which should be perfect in three weeks’ time.
Beschorneria
Beschorneria
Look at this huge jasmine. Our theme is ‘Plants as Pollinators’ and this is perfect. Only about half out.
Jasmine
Jasmine
Acers aplenty and look at the leaf colours.
Acers
Acers
Acers
Acers
The reddish new growth on this huge, rare Eriobotrya deflexa should be perfect too.
Eriobotrya deflexa
Eriobotrya deflexa
The trachelospermums are full of bud but Gerry and Louisa have moved them into the hottest part of the tunnel to bring them on more quickly.
Trachelospermum
Trachelospermum
Trachelospermum
Trachelospermum
Flowers coming on the actinidias.
Actinidia
Actinidia
This Cardiocrinum giganteum has a huge flowering spike. Can we get it in flower in time? With a warm fortnight perhaps.
Cardiocrinum giganteum
Cardiocrinum giganteum
The leaves on the Rheum palmatum for the stand are going to be perfect.
Rheum palmatum
Rheum palmatum
So is the tree fern!
Tree Fern
Tree Fern

The gunneras which have been inside look a bit weak and insipid still.But the huge ones outside do not! The leaves will double in size in the three weeks to show judging.

So it is under control for now but what will the weather bring? We will decide on what needs to go into the coldstore next week to hold it back. A frost could be disastrous but too much hot sun may mean we have to shift plants from the show tunnel outside and into the shade. Lots of work and lots of moving about in the next few days before the final decisions about what exactly goes onto the lorries!

Gunneras
Gunneras
Gunnera
Gunnera
Gunnera
Gunnera

2016 – CHW
Bank holiday Sunday and, predictably, rain! Hardly worth opening. The beech tree below the green gate was a self-sown seedling from the centre of the Chinese garden at Werrington given to Dad by my grandfather. There are two more at the Top Lodge but one split in half there early last autumn. In the last week this now nearly 40 year old tree has come quickly into full leaf. Splendid if we had the sun on it.
beech tree
beech tree
The Quercus coccinea by the garden entrance is also putting on its first leaves. Strangely attractive how they seem to droop down after they first emerge as a silvery light green. Autumn colour is matched by a spring surprise.
Quercus coccinea
Quercus coccinea
Outside the back yard Rhododendron ‘Sappho’ is out. This very old ponticum hybrid is normally a shoe in for Chelsea but, like so many other rhodos, it is going to be long over this year.
Rhododendron ‘Sappho’
Rhododendron ‘Sappho’

Driven indoors by the rain I finally get to write the article on the mysteries of michelia identification here and how the experts have now said all seven of our 90 year old plants are not three species, as we thought, but just one. For the Magnolia Society International yearbook or the Cornwall Garden Society yearbook perhaps or for both?

2015 – CHW
The target today is to look at (and for) other newish michelias flowering for the first time but I get side tracked as usual.

MAGNOLIA 'Daybreak' 02
MAGNOLIA ‘Daybreak’

Magnolia ‘Daybreak’ – we have two plants in flower and nice though it is one cannot help wondering if it has the same parentage as ‘Yuchelia’.  As they come out, but not later, the flowers are very similar.  The reference books do not seem to know Daybreak’s parentage.

TILIA cordata 'Winter Orange' 02
TILIA cordata
‘Winter Orange’
TILIA cordata 'Winter Orange'
TILIA cordata
‘Winter Orange’

Tilia cordata ‘Winter Orange’ is coming into leaf and the twigs and new growth from last year is starting to lose its orange glow which was so striking in the winter months.  A chance seedling from a Dutch grower found only in 1987.

RHODODENDRON 'Moonstone' 02
RHODODENDRON ‘Moonstone’
RHODODENDRON 'Moonstone'
RHODODENDRON ‘Moonstone’

Rhododendron ‘Moonstone’ (campylogynum x williamsianum) forming a nice new clump along from Georges Hut alongside two Rhododendron williamsianum.

RHODODENDRON williamsianum_02
RHODODENDRON williamsianum
RHODODENDRON williamsianum_02
RHODODENDRON williamsianum
These have at last got going.  All the old williamsianum plants in the Auklandii Garden died of old age 20 to 25 years ago although a newer group are still in their prime at Burncoose.  The last big plant to die was 80 to 90 years old, 6 to 8 foot tall and 10 to 12 feet wide.  It has taken at least 15 years to get back to these two small plants but the new clump of a dozen just up the path are getting there too so thankfully williamsianum is now safe. There used to be a huge clump of williamsianum x martinianum (never named) just here on the opposite side of the path but these died of old age too 15 years or so ago.  Burncoose has good clumps so we must propagate.  Martinianum was named after gardener Martin at Caerhays.

2000 – FJW
Garden at its peak, new planting beginning to show.

1960 – FJW
Garden at its peak. Has been dry and hot since April 17th. Flower buds on Magnolia rostrata for first time since 1955.

1930 – JCW
Auklandii just opening, Souliei x hardly moving, Incisa and Subhirtella lot are over. Mag halleana at its best. Kobus and salicifolia over. Conspicua at its best. Denudata nearly over. Some nice Augustinii.

 

1918 – JCW
Auklandii’s begin to wane. Cherries very much so. Recurvas well open. The first flowers at C of E dichroanthum.

1915 – JCW
R auklandii just opening. Cherries still good. P loderi, R augustinii, Dr Stocker, white decorum, R suavis, Red Arboreum and White Arboreum hybrids all good. Many plain Arboreums good. Daffs are on the wane. N recurvas not really out.

1914 – JCW
R auklandii has begun to molt in a rough dry wind, a very fine lot of rhodo’s out, some these the best we ever had. Cherries going back.

1913 – JCW
Cherries going back, we saw Mag out near St Blazey a fortnight since, a good lot of azaleas out. The unopened Mrs Butlers have some flowers open. R rubiginosum in full flower, the auklandii’s nearly out. R glaucum and some scented things out. Sent scented buds to Dinton. Recurvas nearly a ¼ of it open.

1905 – JCW
No sign of May. Montana ⅓ open, ¼ of the recurvas. Many azaleas open.

1903 – JCW
Mary picked some May about five days since.

1902 – JCW
Half the recurvas open nearly, Marvel about the same, several azaleas out, a good bit of montana. Maples quite good.

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