9th 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

One learns something totally irrelevant every day! Ucodendron whartonii, which flowered here for the first time last year, is now considered to be Disanthus ovatifolius. We had been told that the botanists thought it was a Parrotia which made some sense in relation to its flowers. Now the ‘new’ 2019 ninth edition of Hilliers says that D. ovatifolius is a tree although it looks like a climber or a multi-stemmed straggly plant to me! It was found in 2006 and sold by Crug Farm Plants (rather before the date of 2017 as stated in Hilliers). A 2016 Vietnamese survey confirmed this new name on the basis of the ‘leaf shape’. We will see what it grows into in the next decades! I bet that the name changes again shortly! Ucodendron had a nice ring to its name! Hilliers do not mention its exceptional new growth colours or the purple undersides to its leaves which are also quite outstanding. Disanthus cercidifolius is a plant noted for its autumn colours which we have failed to grow despite three attempts. The plants I saw at High Beeches in Sussex last spring (and previously) were outstanding but D. cercidifolius has little to recommend its flowers. I suppose that it is, however, a multi-stemmed large shrub (like a Corylus). Anyway much fun to be had here disagreeing with the botanists. If you search this garden diary you will find plenty of pictures of Ucodendron whartonii and its peculiar flowers.

I had an email from the RHS asking if our ‘head gardener’ might like to share information on the performance of ‘new’ plants for the 10th edition of Hilliers. I said, in reply, that some / a little of what is supposedly new in the IDS ‘New Trees’ book has actually been growing here for 80 to 100 years. Nobody asked! So now I suggest that I might actually know what is growing here ‘myself’ and they could, in fact, ask me! How typical of the RHS Wisley to assume the private garden owner is too ‘thick’ to know what is actually planted in his own garden and hope to rely on other staff to help. They get the proverbial ‘finger’ but I do hope to be able to help with our specific knowledge of new and unusual plants here of which there are plenty to enjoy! The last job in lockdown if the RHS will actually give me a list to work with?

I am now a day away from finishing checking all our photographic databases for mistakes, new care articles, better pictures for the website etc. Without lockdown this would not have been achievable. As it is 1,500 better/new pictures added to the website in 40 to 50 hours work dealing with 30-40,000 (?) pictures from various in house sources over nearly 20 years.

The swallows are (both) back in the dog kennel and twittering away with delight. Two green woodpeckers on the lawn chasing ants.

A bonfire to clear a space to plant our Rhododendron ‘Mrs Butler’ layers in the autumn where a beech tree split in half. Jaimie’s team still has to fell a couple of overhanging trees and to pollard an elderly rhododendron.

bonfire
bonfire
A tail end Rhododendron ‘Cornish Red’ (more ‘Scarlet’?) is a picture today.
Rhododendron ‘Cornish Red’
Rhododendron ‘Cornish Red’
Although Sassafras albidum suckers prolifically it has not done so much with us as the trunk is surrounded by camellias. Here is a sucker 15ft or more from the trunk beside the path. Several in fact on closer inspection.
Sassafras albidum
Sassafras albidum
Sorbus caloneura in flower.
Sorbus caloneura
Sorbus caloneura
Sorbus hedlundii (the best large leaved form grown by Roundabarrow nurseries) with its first flowers.
Sorbus hedlundii
Sorbus hedlundii
Pterocarya rhoifolia nicely into leaf.
Pterocarya rhoifolia
Pterocarya rhoifolia
Carpinus japonicus leaves are easily identifiable.
Carpinus japonicus
Carpinus japonicus
Sorbus alnifolia in flower – alder like leaves indeed.
Sorbus alnifolia
Sorbus alnifolia
Sorbus japonica just out also. White undersides to its leaves.
Sorbus japonica
Sorbus japonica
Sorbus japonica
Sorbus japonica
Aesculus hippocastanum ‘Baumannii’ with its double flowers – three weeks earlier than last year.
Aesculus hippocastanum ‘Baumannii’
Aesculus hippocastanum ‘Baumannii’
Acer truncatum var. barbinerve with winged seed heads forming.
Acer truncatum var. barbinerve
Acer truncatum var. barbinerve
Acer truncatum var. barbinerve
Acer truncatum var. barbinerve
Azalea ‘Barthold Lazzer’ is a double flower. Very slow growing. Ghent hybrid but the first of seven different clumps to be in full flower.
Azalea ‘Barthold Lazzer’
Azalea ‘Barthold Lazzer’
Azalea ‘Barthold Lazzer’
Azalea ‘Barthold Lazzer’
Berberis wilsonae glinting in the sun.
Berberis wilsonae
Berberis wilsonae
An excellent bit of layering of Rhododendron souilenhense which Tom Hudson gave us originally.
Rhododendron souilenhense
Rhododendron souilenhense
The leaves of Quercus semecarpifolia lose their bristles or prickles as the tree matures.
Quercus semecarpifolia
Quercus semecarpifolia
The leaves of Cercidiphyllum japonica ‘Red Fox’ are stunning now.
Cercidiphyllum japonica ‘Red Fox’
Cercidiphyllum japonica ‘Red Fox’
Cercidiphyllum japonica ‘Red Fox’
Cercidiphyllum japonica ‘Red Fox’
Cercidiphyllum japonica ‘Red Fox’
Cercidiphyllum japonica ‘Red Fox’
Caragana arborescens ‘Walker’ with few flowers this year and its umbrella growth shape. Burncoose stopped stocking this a while ago which was a mistake. A good central weeping small tree for the centre of a herbaceous border.
Caragana arborescens ‘Walker’
Caragana arborescens ‘Walker’
Caragana arborescens ‘Walker’
Caragana arborescens ‘Walker’
First flowers out on a Rhododendron yakusimanum.
Rhododendron yakusimanum
Rhododendron yakusimanum
Rhododendron ‘Graziella’ is well worth growing but a bit temperamental to get established.
Rhododendron ‘Graziella’
Rhododendron ‘Graziella’
Quercus stenophylloides now in full leaf. We get a mention in the new Hillier’s in relation to this rarity. Now 15-20ft tall and in a fairly cold spot.
Quercus stenophylloides
Quercus stenophylloides
Quercus stenophylloides
Quercus stenophylloides
Nearby a Quercus moorii (CMBS 649) has grown little in the last seven to ten years but, today, it has rather exciting red new growth. I suspect this species is only borderline hardy here and, after the new clearing below it, is even more exposed now. Some of these newer Mexican oaks sit and struggle for years before a few get away. We have seen this too in some of the newer Lithocarpus which take years to get going properly after lots of initial dieback and scorched early new growth.
Quercus moorii
Quercus moorii
Quercus moorii
Quercus moorii

2019 – CHW
I had been hunting Magnolia ‘Green Bee’ for some weeks and finally found it well up the drive. Although greenish in bud it really is a very good yellow.
Magnolia ‘Green Bee’
Magnolia ‘Green Bee’
Magnolia ‘Green Bee’
Magnolia ‘Green Bee’
Rhododendron ‘Kabarett’ looking very fine today.
Rhododendron ‘Kabarett’
Rhododendron ‘Kabarett’
Rhododendron ‘Kabarett’
Rhododendron ‘Kabarett’
It is fairly rare for us to see self-sown seedlings emerging but after last summer’s heat copper beech, birch and conifer seedlings have appeared on mossy banks above the fernery.
self-sown seedlings
self-sown seedlings
self-sown seedlings
self-sown seedlings
Rhododendron royalii (pink form) was looking superb today but sadly is too far out for Chelsea.
Rhododendron royalii
Rhododendron royalii
Rhododendron royalii
Rhododendron royalii
Flowers on the Daphniphyllum macropodum on the drive are showing up much later than on the plants at the top of the garden.
Daphniphyllum macropodum
Daphniphyllum macropodum
The laurel hedge above Hovel Cart Road is now getting a good trimming.
laurel hedge
laurel hedge

2018 – CHW
Went with Jaimie to sort out which branches to cut for Chelsea from the huge Schefflera macrophylla tree in Forty Acres. The leaves are all intact and untouched by the cold winds in February/March. We select one upright branch and one side on branch to cut which we mark with white plastic. We will cut these branches on Thursday 17th May first thing. Then they can be inspected by Defra before loading onto the third and last lorry load for Chelsea which will arrive at Chelsea first thing on Friday 18th. The branches, and those of Schefflera taiwaniana, will travel in a dustbin of water. We are confident that they will not flop before or during the show based on past experience of cutting bits off this unusual plant which will seldom if ever have been seen at Chelsea before at this sort of size or age.Schefflera are very new to cultivation in the UK and have proved themselves totally (if unexpectedly) hardy during ‘The Beast from the East’. In time these will definitely become very popular garden plants.

Schefflera for Chelsea
Schefflera for Chelsea
Schefflera for Chelsea
Schefflera for Chelsea
Schefflera for Chelsea
Schefflera for Chelsea
Schefflera for Chelsea
Schefflera for Chelsea
Schefflera for Chelsea
Schefflera for Chelsea
Schefflera for Chelsea
Schefflera for Chelsea

2017 – CHW

Vaccinum cylindraceum just about to come out.

Vaccinum cylindraceum
Vaccinum cylindraceum
The one year planted Acer albopurpurascens has attractive new growth with a purplish tinge.
Acer albopurpurascens
Acer albopurpurascens
Acer albopurpurascens
Acer albopurpurascens
Ucodendron whartonii with extraordinary but rather fine new growth too. I have no idea what this new introduction from Crug Farm actually ‘does’? It is not in ‘New Trees’. Another ‘something’ dendron! Purple undersides to the new leaves.
Ucodendron whartonii
Ucodendron whartonii
Ucodendron whartonii
Ucodendron whartonii
Ucodendron whartonii
Ucodendron whartonii
Ucodendron whartonii
Ucodendron whartonii
Persea japonica – new growth on our plant is rather dull too as it was in Wales compared to Persea thunburgii.
Persea japonica
Persea japonica
Persea japonica
Persea japonica
Rhododendron ‘Jean Marie de Montague’ is a good deep red.
Rhododendron ‘Jean Marie de Montague’
Rhododendron ‘Jean Marie de Montague’
Rhododendron ‘Jean Marie de Montague’
Rhododendron ‘Jean Marie de Montague’
The first yellowish royalii hybrid is out but not the pink one next to it.
yellowish royalii hybrid
yellowish royalii hybrid
yellowish royalii hybrid
yellowish royalii hybrid
This is another Rhododendron ‘Loderi King George’. I was looking for ‘loderi’ ‘Pink Diamond’ but this is not it.
Rhododendron ‘Loderi King George’
Rhododendron ‘Loderi King George’
Rhododendron ‘Loderi King George’
Rhododendron ‘Loderi King George’
I have written an article for publication today on styrax but I needed some decent pictures of the unusual colouration of the bark and trunk of Styrax hemsleyanus.
Styrax hemsleyanus
Styrax hemsleyanus
Styrax hemsleyanus
Styrax hemsleyanus
Rhododendron ‘Dreamland’ is compact and small growing.
Rhododendron ‘Dreamland’
Rhododendron ‘Dreamland’
Rhododendron ‘Dreamland’
Rhododendron ‘Dreamland’
Rhododendron ‘Dreamland’
Rhododendron ‘Dreamland’
This is closer to Rhododendron ‘Loderi Pink Diamond’ if only on its leaf form but still not correct.
Rhododendron ‘Loderi Pink Diamond’
Rhododendron ‘Loderi Pink Diamond’
Rhododendron ‘Loderi Pink Diamond’
Rhododendron ‘Loderi Pink Diamond’
Another pleasant yellow royalii hybrid.
yellowish royalii hybrid
yellowish royalii hybrid
yellowish royalii hybrid
yellowish royalii hybrid
Azalea ‘Cannons Double’ is just out.
Azalea ‘Cannons Double’
Azalea ‘Cannons Double’

2016 – CHW
A very happy and interesting visit to the rhodo species collection at Windsor Great Park and then onto the Valley Gardens and, finally, the Savill Garden. The latter had matured enormously since my ‘gap year’ as a student gardener nearly 40 years ago but the species collection has matured slowly and I enjoyed visiting the borders I once helped double dig all those years ago. Harvey Stephens is just the sort of person to take on this, clearly and self-evidently, best garden in England, with his new boss (ex Exbury) John Anderson. They will be in the Eric Savill, John Bond, Mark Flannigan mould and maintain the amazing levels of excellence not least in the labelling and cataloguing of the collection. This is where I taught myself many of the plant names which Burncoose sells today. Harvey called me an ‘unusual’ student gardener. 40 years ago there were 60 gardeners and 20 students. Today 16 gardeners, two bosses and three students (but the grass cutting etc is contracted to others). I was amused to see that most things in ‘my’ rhodo beds had not survived 40 years! One of my first jobs was to plant the new American ‘girls’ in the Heather Garden. These were crosses between Magnolia stellata and lilliflora nigra and have achieved 15ft spans, 10ft or so high in 40 years. There are nine named girls and we saw the lot. They are more different than you think when you see them all together but easily muddled. It might have been better just to have named three or four. Here are the five still flowering decently today:
Magnolia ‘Jane’
Magnolia ‘Jane’
Magnolia ‘Jane’
Magnolia ‘Jane’
Magnolia ‘Jane’
Magnolia ‘Ricki’
Magnolia ‘Ricki’
Magnolia ‘Ricki’
Magnolia ‘Ricki’
Magnolia ‘Ricki’
Magnolia ‘Betty’
Magnolia ‘Betty’
Magnolia ‘Betty’
Magnolia ‘Betty’
Magnolia ‘Betty’
Magnolia ‘Ann’
Magnolia ‘Ann’
Magnolia ‘Ann’
Magnolia ‘Ann’
Magnolia ‘Ann’
Magnolia ‘Judy’
Magnolia ‘Judy’
Magnolia ‘Judy’

The best rhododendrons flowering in the species collection were: Rhododendron cinnabarinum subsp xanthocodon Purpurellum Group

Rhododendron cinnabarinum subsp xanthocodon Purpurellum Group
Rhododendron cinnabarinum subsp xanthocodon Purpurellum Group
Rhododendron cinnabarinum subsp xanthocodon Purpurellum Group
Rhododendron cinnabarinum subsp xanthocodon Purpurellum Group
Rhododendron cinnabarinum subsp xanthocodon Purpurellum Group
Rhododendron cinnabarinum subsp xanthocodon Purpurellum Group
Rhododendron sinofalconeri
Rhododendron sinofalconeri
Rhododendron sinofalconeri
Rhododendron sinofalconeri
Rhododendron sinofalconeri
Rhododendron sinofalconeri
Rhododendron sinofalconeri
As far as Caerhays is concerned the Windsor visit reminded me again how many species have died out here which were once very much part of the Forrest collection and now need to be replaced. Some have but there is much more to do to get back to what was here in the 1960s:
Rhododendron floccigerum
Rhododendron floccigerum
Rhododendron floccigerum
Rhododendron arizelum
Rhododendron arizelum
Rhododendron arizelum
Rhododendron fulvum
Rhododendron fulvum
Rhododendron fulvum
Rhododendron fulgens
Rhododendron fulgens
Rhododendron fulgens
Rhododendron hyperanthum
Rhododendron hyperanthum
Rhododendron hyperanthum
Rhododendron hyperanthum
Rhododendron hyperanthum
Rhododendron basilicum
Rhododendron basilicum
Rhododendron basilicum
Rhododendron campanulatum
Rhododendron campanulatum
Rhododendron campanulatum
Rhododendron campanulatum
Rhododendron campanulatum

I need to spend a couple of days here next spring for a more in depth review of what I have forgotten about rhodo species. It is excellent that Jaimie has been a student friend of Harvey for many years. This ensures the Caerhays-Windsor connection and friendship will continue as it always has.I leave you with Karol ‘resting’ in the Valley Gardens.

Karol ‘resting’ in the Valley Gardens.
Karol ‘resting’ in the Valley Gardens.

2015 – CHW
A trip around the garden with a nice group of fairly non gardeners who had bought their tour at a charity auction.  The purchaser was responsible for setting up the polling station in the castle over five years ago which was twittered worldwide at the time and raised some money for their charity.  Heavy rain early morning (good) but now a warm north wind.

Their granddaughter likes pink so we look for pinkish and smelly plants.

RHODODENDRON chapmanii 02
RHODODENDRON chapmanii
RHODODENDRON chapmanii
RHODODENDRON chapmanii

Rhododendron chapmanii is a relatively unknown species with a compact habit.

RHODODENDRON crassum 02
RHODODENDRON crassum
RHODODENDRON crassum
RHODODENDRON crassum

Rhododendron crassum is pink in bud and the smell was just coming.  Too far out already for Chelsea though.

RHODODENDRON 'Berts Own'
RHODODENDRON ‘Berts Own’

Rhododendron ‘Berts Own’ is nearly over so much of the pink flashing had faded but the scent was still knock-out.  You would not stick is indoors for long.  A Caerhays hybrid from the 1950s or 1960s I think.

RHODODENDRON williamsianum x callimorphum
RHODODENDRON
williamsianum x callimorphum

Rhododendron williamsianum x callimorphum – as usual you walk by plants all year which you think have been lost or died out only to discover they have not.  Williamsianum x martinianum now located too on Burns Bank so this is not lost to us either.

RHODODENDRON 'Polyroy' 02
RHODODENDRON ‘Polyroy’
RHODODENDRON 'Polyroy'
RHODODENDRON ‘Polyroy’

Rhododendron ‘Polyroy’ – a Millais Nurseries bred hybrid of excellent quality flowering with us for the first time.  Presumably Rhododendron polyandrum x Rhododendron royalii although I have not yet looked it up.  There are a few flowers left on Magnolia acuminata ‘Fertile Myrtle’ x sprengeri ‘Diva’ and so I ask the group to suggest a name to register this with the Magnolia Society International.  They come up with ‘TROPICANA’ which is PERFECT and I will give them all the credit when we register.  Out of the hundreds of people who have been asked this same question in the last five to six weeks only they came up with anything faintly resembling the actual colours in a simple word.  Well done them!

2000 – FJW
Have never seen more flower or colour in the garden – went around with Philip.

1998 – FJW
Garden closed – on everyday the garden was open, RAIN FELL. Beech trees coming out.

1993 – FJW
Hot week saved by some showers.

1990 – FJW
Very dry – limited bad weather coming limply from the north.

1965 – FJW
The best new thing has been the Diva x Robusta above the Stables. The Mollicomata x nigra is ordinary but precocious to flower so young. The Dalhousiae hybs. not so good as the first attempt. The ‘yellow’ seedling azaleas on the Drive are at least yellow!

1916 – JCW
Auklandii nearly over, Cherries are gone. White A indica and A amoena very good. Molli and Ghent Azaleas nice. Loderi going over. Falconeri opening. Augustinii is passing. Daffs have gone.

1909 – JCW
Tubergen Iris are very good, most other things ruined by the sun and dry wind. C reticulata over, Montana rubra coming, Auklandii ⅓ open, Recurvas open, other things (daffs) over.

1901 – JCW
Picked the first seed pods, H Irving under glass.

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