3rd 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

With all the politics and spite from the media the government is finding itself dithering over lockdown. A few (supposed) facts from Stanford University appear over the weekend with regard to COVID in New York. Ninety-nine percent of COVID deaths in New York State also had underlying illnesses. If you do not have a chronic condition your chances of dying from COVID are very small. Younger people in normal health have almost no risk.

Only 1.7% of people with the virus aged 65 to 74 actually went into hospital. It is therefore likely that medical care is hardly necessary for the vast majority of people who are infected.

No worse than a bout of winter flu as I speculated in this diary five or six weeks ago. Herd immunity is happening (as the chief medical officer let slip at an early press briefing) and would have happened more quickly but for lockdown.

If the NHS had not chucked thousands of elderly, dementia etc patients out of hospital into care homes (to make way for what did not happen in hospitals) then many more might well have survived for longer and the death statistics might be less awful and, therefore, less of a source of the current political uncertainty over when to end the lockdown.

The NHS’s rapid reaction to the crisis by cancelling everything will undoubtedly add to the death toll and the misery of a country in recession.

So the ‘mistakes’ are not really about the lack of PPE, the lack of instant tests (which prove little on an ongoing basis) or not enforcing a lockdown more quickly. The mistake was a panicked overreaction to the reality of what the country faced. Our obedience in lockdown is clearly admirable but the cost per death to everyone is in ongoing billions which will cause far more misery.

Historians will make much of this but the public inquiry will be the usual fudge which does not really blame anyone. Just look at the public inquiry into weapons of mass destruction and the gulf war.

A consignment of rare plants from Crug Farm nurseries arrived by courier yesterday. The list of plants is attached here. Lots of fun in lockdown reading up about these new things and thinking where we might put them. The owners of Crug had planned to stay and visit Caerhays at the end of the month and would have brought the plants with them.

Ilex cornuta which we hope to add to the Burncoose catalogue next year from Asia’s successful propagation. A dense, squat, low growing and spreading species which would do well as a windbreak as it is here.

Ilex cornuta
Ilex cornuta
Ilex cornuta
Ilex cornuta
Ilex cornuta
Ilex cornuta
Quercus rubra ‘Aurea’ just into leaf.
Quercus rubra ‘Aurea’
Quercus rubra ‘Aurea’
Quercus rubra ‘Aurea’
Quercus rubra ‘Aurea’
Easily our best (of three) Taiwania cryptomeroides. This one has finally produced a ‘leader’ and is away as a tree. I wonder if Asia could grow this from cuttings?
Taiwania cryptomeroides
Taiwania cryptomeroides
Taiwania cryptomeroides
Taiwania cryptomeroides
Rhododendron ‘Lady Alice Fitzwilliam’ with a bit more yellow (rather than pink) in the trumpets than Rhododendron ‘Fragrantissimum’. Soon time to take cuttings of both. Plants like this are an inspiration even before you get the scent.
Rhododendron ‘Lady Alice Fitzwilliam’
Rhododendron ‘Lady Alice Fitzwilliam’
New growth well away on x Rhaphiobotrya ‘Coppertone’.
x Rhaphiobotrya ‘Coppertone’
x Rhaphiobotrya ‘Coppertone’
Pinkish new growth on Quercus candicans and first flower tassels.
Quercus candicans
Quercus candicans
Quercus candicans
Quercus candicans
Viburnum awabuki is becoming a large shrub with huge glossy and shining leaves. Hillier’s says it is a form of Viburnum odoratissimum but a good one and worth propagating. No flowers yet although V. odoratissimum is out.
Viburnum awabuki
Viburnum awabuki
Viburnum awabuki
Viburnum awabuki
Magnolia ‘Sunsation’ (despite what the label says – ‘Sensation’) has been out for a bit but now with its full range of colours between bud and fully open.
Magnolia ‘Sunsation’
Magnolia ‘Sunsation’
Magnolia ‘Sunsation’
Magnolia ‘Sunsation’
Magnolia ‘Sunsation’
Magnolia ‘Sunsation’
Philadelphus satsumi about to come out.
Philadelphus satsumi
Philadelphus satsumi
Fuchsia magellanica ‘Alba’ had flowers at Christmas on a leafless bush. First flush of flower again now.
Fuchsia magellanica ‘Alba’
Fuchsia magellanica ‘Alba’
Fuchsia magellanica ‘Alba’
Fuchsia magellanica ‘Alba’
Two of the four new species of Hedychium planted on the top wall last autumn seem to be evergreen and not deciduous or is this just the mild winter?
Hedychium
Hedychium
Hydrangea anomala ssp. anomala with bronzy new growth. Not a vigorous climber.
Hydrangea anomala ssp. anomala
Hydrangea anomala ssp. anomala
Hydrangea anomala ssp. anomala
Hydrangea anomala ssp. anomala
The wisteria has shed its first flowers in the wind and rain. All too quickly.
wisteria
wisteria

2019 – CHW

Now staying at Ockenden Manor Hotel, Cuckfield near Haywards Heath.

Gravetye gardens are a treat, the (oval) walled garden was created by William Robinson and the borders in view from the hotel restaurant were splendid. Lunch also exquisite but very slow. Staff had no English so were upset when we left without waiting for the pudding after two and a half hours!

This Tropaeolum […] in pots by the front was fantastic. I had not seen it before.

Tropaeolum
Tropaeolum
A wonderful greenhouse with framed peaches.
greenhouse
greenhouse
greenhouse
greenhouse
Pleached figs opposite the peaches on the greenhouse back wall.
figs
figs
figs
figs
Rehmania henryii was a new species to enjoy.
Rehmania henryii
Rehmania henryii
Rhododendron pentaphyllum or perhaps Rhododendron vaseyi?
Rhododendron pentaphyllum
Rhododendron pentaphyllum
Rhododendron pentaphyllum
Rhododendron pentaphyllum
Redcurrants already forming.
Redcurrants
Redcurrants
Redcurrants
Redcurrants
Blueberries in an enclosure.
Blueberries
Blueberries
William Robinson was the first to identify how to properly train peaches, pears and cherries on kitchen garden walls.
A 15x15ft Weigelia with light pink flowers. One to identify.
Weigelia
Weigelia
Weigelia
Weigelia
Right by the house a fine specimen of Stachyurus salicifolius.
Stachyurus salicifolius
Stachyurus salicifolius
Stachyurus salicifolius
Stachyurus salicifolius
Then on to Nymans garden (National Trust) where we were met by the acting head gardener, Joe Whelan, and Philip Holmes.
Here are a few outstanding plants from this 37 acre garden (and arboretum) which had 375,000 visitors last year.
Keteleeria davidiana – I have just planted this as a cutting grown plant in Kennel Close. Here cones are forming.
Keteleeria davidiana
Keteleeria davidiana
Keteleeria davidiana
Keteleeria davidiana
Keteleeria davidiana
Keteleeria davidiana
Keteleeria davidiana
Keteleeria davidiana
Davidia involucrata ‘Nymans Sentinel’ a named form with an upright habit in a grove of 20 handkerchief trees. All in flower today. Planted after the 1987 hurricane.
Davidia involucrata ‘Nymans Sentinel’
Davidia involucrata ‘Nymans Sentinel’
Davidia involucrata ‘Nymans Sentinel’
Davidia involucrata ‘Nymans Sentinel’
Carya cordiformis with old fruits from last year on the ground. New species to me.
Carya cordiformis
Carya cordiformis
Carya cordiformis
Carya cordiformis
Cryptocarya alba had suffered in last year’s cold.
Cryptocarya alba
Cryptocarya alba
Cryptocarya alba
Cryptocarya alba
Berberis negeriana – almost orange flowers and superb.
Berberis negeriana
Berberis negeriana
Berberis negeriana
Berberis negeriana
Azalea ‘Crocea Tricolor’ (a Ghent hybrid). Slow growing and small bushes. No idea why these have been allowed to die out in the nursery trade.
Azalea ‘Crocea Tricolor’
Azalea ‘Crocea Tricolor’
Azalea ‘Crocea Tricolor’
Azalea ‘Crocea Tricolor’
Picea smithiana with new growth.
Picea smithiana
Picea smithiana
Picea smithiana
Picea smithiana
Picea smithiana
Picea smithiana
Berberis ‘Georgii’ plastered in flowers.
Berberis ‘Georgii’
Berberis ‘Georgii’
Berberis ‘Georgii’
Berberis ‘Georgii’
Phyllocladus glauca
Phyllocladus glauca
Phyllocladus glauca
Phyllocladus glauca
Phyllocladus glauca
Gleditsia sinensis – with huge thorns to stop animals climbing the tree.
Gleditsia sinensis
Gleditsia sinensis
Gleditsia sinensis
Gleditsia sinensis
Davidia involucrata var. vilmorimana ‘Golden Birr’ has golden young leaves and originated in Birr Castle in Ireland.
Davidia involucrata var. vilmorimana ‘Golden Birr’
Davidia involucrata var. vilmorimana ‘Golden Birr’
Davidia involucrata var. vilmorimana ‘Golden Birr’
Davidia involucrata var. vilmorimana ‘Golden Birr’
A record tree – Carpinus viminea from Asia.
Carpinus viminea
Carpinus viminea
Glyptostrobus pensilis with a fully formed trunk. Planted in 1912 but still only 20-25ft tall. Needs a damper spot apparently.
Glyptostrobus pensilis
Glyptostrobus pensilis
Glyptostrobus pensilis
Glyptostrobus pensilis

2018 – CHW
A trip around the garden with a charming researcher who is interested in compiling a history of Sir Reginald Cory of Dyffryn House (1871-1934). The property is owned now by the National Trust after 60 years of ‘control’ by Cardiff council. Sir Reginald was a sponsor of three of George Forrest’s expeditions and visited Caerhays in April 1919 (as attached). Philip Tregunna won the RHS Reginald Cory cup for Magnolia ‘Caerhays Surprise’ (the best new plant bred or introduced to cultivation that year) in 1973. All Sir Reginald’s papers were ordered to be burnt on his death. It is thought he was a founder member (with JCW) of The Garden Society (founded 1923) but it does not seem he was a member of the Rhododendron Society (founded 1916). Quite what he hoped to create or achieve from his enormous financial contributions to the Forrest expeditions to China remains a key mystery. No garden records remain at Dyffryn and it is not a rhododendron or camellia growing area. I fear the trip did little to resolve the mystery but the garden here looked splendid.

This has been called Azalea ‘Tebotan’ but it is not quite. As I remember it one of those double flowered azaleas from Christmas 40 plus years ago which survived being planted out. They would not today.

Azalea ‘Tebotan’
Azalea ‘Tebotan’
Azalea ‘Tebotan’
Azalea ‘Tebotan’
Azalea ‘Babeuff’ outside the back yard has opened in a flash.
Azalea ‘Babeuff’
Azalea ‘Babeuff’
Azalea ‘Babeuff’
Azalea ‘Babeuff’
A young clump of Rhododendron ‘Berts Own’ just coming out. Fabulous scent.
Rhododendron ‘Berts Own’
Rhododendron ‘Berts Own’
The rare Symplocos dryophylla full out by Georges Hut. Not a great smell.
Symplocos dryophylla
Symplocos dryophylla
Symplocos dryophylla
Symplocos dryophylla
From the Giddle Orchard Jaimie has located another rather better FJW rhodo hybrid than those seen earlier this week. This is a cross between Rhododendron ‘Tally Ho’ (dark red and very late season flowering) with Rhododendron auklandii (now Rhododendron griffithianum which is white and out now). A rather translucent pink with a large truss. If anyone at the RHS was still interested in this sort of thing perhaps well worth a name. I will ask Jaimie to try to register it with the rhododendron register anyway just to keep our hand in.
cross between Rhododendron ‘Tally Ho’ (dark red and very late season flowering) with Rhododendron auklandii
cross between Rhododendron ‘Tally Ho’ (dark red and very late season flowering) with Rhododendron auklandii

2017 – CHW
Another roe deer sighting by Michael on the cutting above the beach. The damage to the young camellias above the Auklandii Garden is recent and obvious. This is probably the culprit. A 5am surprise perhaps.
roe deer
roe deer
The first grass cut on our new wedding venue location known as ‘Beach Meadow’. The first booking to use this newly levelled and seeded area is imminent. As you can see the tide is out.
‘Beach Meadow’
‘Beach Meadow’
The layering of the exceptional pink Rhododendron sinogrande ‘Lord Rudolph’ was completed yesterday. Lots of new plants in three to five years’ time to transplant and move elsewhere.
Rhododendron sinogrande ‘Lord Rudolph’
Rhododendron sinogrande ‘Lord Rudolph’
Rhododendron sinogrande ‘Lord Rudolph’
Rhododendron sinogrande ‘Lord Rudolph’
A hectic day with the producer of ‘Salvage Hunters’ planning a six to eight minute film shoot here in late May. Then 24 classic cars at the front door and a garden tour for 50 plus. Then a huge busload of Germans and a smaller busload of I know not who! I forgot the bloody camera on the tour.
Classic cars
Classic cars
Classic cars
Classic cars
Classic cars
Classic cars
Classic cars
Classic cars
Classic cars
Classic cars
Classic cars
Classic cars
Classic cars
Classic cars

2016 – CHW
Michelia x foggii ‘Allspice’ (planted 2005) has been very slow to come into flower having shown colour for some weeks. We now have three plants of Michelia x foggii with their distinctive dense dark green foliage and golden indumentum on the buds. Not far off Michelia doltsopa  and not much like Michelia figo really.
Michelia x foggii ‘Allspice’
Michelia x foggii ‘Allspice’
With michelias still in mind I went in search of another new species below Tin Garden and it too was in flower for the first time albeit battered by the wind. This is supposedly Michelia macclureii planted in 2005. Looking at the book Magnolias of China it is hard to see it as the perfect match to the photographs there so another query for Tom Hudson to mull over. The flowers appear in small clusters at the end of the twigs.
Michelia macclureii
Michelia macclureii
Michelia macclureii
Michelia macclureii
Magnolia ‘Peachy’ is perhaps the best ‘thing’ (magnolia anyway) in the garden today. A riot of rather unpleasantly mixed colours.
Magnolia ‘Peachy’
Magnolia ‘Peachy’
Magnolia ‘Peachy’
Magnolia ‘Peachy’
Magnolia ‘Peachy’
Magnolia ‘Peachy’
Magnolia ‘Lemon Star’ (syn ‘Swedish Star’), which flowered for the first time last year, is even better today. The buds are green turning yellow, but the best thing about this variety is that the mature flowers open out flat and turn finally a rich creamy yellow. This new variety will certainly catch on with enthusiasts.
Magnolia ‘Lemon Star’
Magnolia ‘Lemon Star’
Magnolia ‘Lemon Star’
Magnolia ‘Lemon Star’
Magnolia ‘Lemon Star’
Magnolia ‘Lemon Star’
Magnolia ‘Lemon Star’
Magnolia ‘Lemon Star’
Looking at the planting records I still cannot find Michelia maudiae where it was planted so it must have died. It was beside a tender Parkameria lotungensis (which is just hanging on) so must have died although it is supposed to be much tougher than the parkameria. Near the clump of three Magnolia delavayi there is however a 20ft tall Magnolia aff floribunda var tonkinensis from Crug Farm planted in the early 1990s which I had failed to notice until today. Not sure if this is supposed to be a michelia or a manglietia. Looks like the latter. No flowers and battered by the wind but still another M floribunda to compare to the nearby original.
2015 – CHW
Not much joy on the michelia hunt which has not been seen before.  Two more Michelia ‘Touch of Pink’ flowering away in more exposed positions (and a bit deer nibbled) than the main plant features earlier.  They however appear to be on the way with plenty of space to grow on.
MICHELIA foggii MIXED 02
MICHELIA foggii ‘Mixed up Miss’
MICHELIA foggii MIXED
MICHELIA foggii ‘Mixed up Miss’
Michelia foggii ‘Mixed up Miss’ is a completely new (to us) first time flowerer planted only two years ago.  Quite rounded buds with rather more purple edging to the flower petals than ‘Touch of Pink’ (silly name as said before).  Pretty silly name here too! I wonder who dreamt that up.
MICHELIA foveolata 02
MICHELIA foveolata
MICHELIA foveolata
MICHELIA foveolata

The Michelia foveolata is, I am pretty sure, Michelia maudiae.  I had thought that the touching Lindera megaphylla were elderly and on the way out a few years ago but now it looks a daft place to have planted it.

MICHELIA floribunda
MICHELIA floribunda

The mature Michelia floribunda has a branch laden down with flower which is close enough to photograph properly.  The flowers are full out and have lost most of their orange tinge.  Too windy for any scent.  We must collect seed this autumn as the flowers are still undamaged.

MICHELIA martinii 02
MICHELIA martinii
MICHELIA martinii
MICHELIA martinii

Nothing else to report from Michelia martinii or any of the other newer species and hybrids planted in last 10 to 15 years.  One or two of the new manglietia of the same vintage look more promising for a bud or two later in the summer.

Back in the yard we host three choirs as part of the Cornwall Music Festival.  A big showing of Welshmen who appear to have had a liquid night and arrive an hour late.  The  contingent of Spaniards (Basques?) in full uniform with a separatist flag which they parade on the Nobby perhaps to support Mebyon Kernow.  The famous Yank choir from Maryland fail to turn up much to the annoyance of the Welsh whose hangovers now need more than our tea rooms can offer and have waited on.  The Yanks have gone to Heligan to pay and view the gardens as their (no doubt un-induced) driver would not come to Caerhays due to ‘bad roads’.  The choirs were originally to go to Heligan but Heligan had another event and could not host them.  Nice of Heligan to let us know!  Lucinda unamused at this fine example of close cooperation between the Great Gardens of Cornwall.  The other choirs had huge buses and no problem at all.  Coach driver ‘inducements’ are clearly the way forward.

1999 – FJW
April wet – but not as wet as 1998. House martins late. 2 only appear to start being busy today. Chestnuts late. Beech as Truro. Magnolias have been good. New plantings beginning to show their value.

1967 – FJW
The Queen Mother visited the garden in pouring rain.

1949 – CW
Visit of Rhododendron Conference 2.30 – Hester’s baby at 3.15. About 100 there, 10 to 12 Americans. They saw Davidsonianum, Augustinii, Sinogrande, Williamsianum, Auklandii at thier best. Also many hybrids. Camellias over but odd flowers even on Reticulata. Two ot three flowers still on Mag sargentiana.
We have had a very dry time and all flowers are at least ⅓ below normal size.

1929 – JCW
Augustinii and species very good, the first Maddeni x flowers opening hardy one in the 40 Acres. Saw Primula vaseri showing colour. Neriiflorum good for last four months.

1921 – JCW
Auklandii at its best. Zealanicum x Auklandii going over. Forrest’s early budleya is good. Yunnanense lot of it coming on. Wilson’s going off.

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