Cornwall has been described as the garden capital of the world but, as an exhibition at the Cornwall Spring Flower Show in 2016 demonstrated, the county owes its wonderful springtime splendour not to native species - but rather to a small band of intrepid plant hunters who brought back seeds.
The fabulous range of Camellias, Magnolias, Rhododendrons and Daffodils that brighten up our gardens and our lives from February onwards would not be here were it not for the likes of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, George Forrest, Ernest Henry Wilson and Captain Richard Rawes who braved untold dangers and adventures to bring them back to Britain.
Sponsored by a number of wealthy estate owners including JC Williams of Caerhays Castle and George Johnstone of Trewithen House, their incredible exploits helped to transform a country that had the smallest natural flora in the world to one that can now boast the widest range of any nation on earth. Given that 70% more plants grow in Cornwall than in the rest of Britain put together, it is hardly surprising that an event like Cornwall Spring Flower Show provides the ultimate testament to all that the plant hunters achieved.
“I suspect most of us take the extraordinary shrubs and plants in our gardens for granted but the truth is we wouldn’t have them if the plant hunters hadn’t travelled so widely,” said Pat Ward, who putt the exhibition together for the show. “We’re staging the display in its own marquee with lots of beautiful photos and samples of flowers. Hopefully, visitors will enjoy it and learn a lot more about Cornwall’s horticulture in the process. I’m also doing a ‘six easy steps to competing’ guide as well.”
Photo: Camellias and magnolias aren’t native to Cornwall but were introduced by plant hunters
Our members have some truly beautiful and interesting gardens. Take a look to see some of the wonderful things growing.
You can take out CGS membership as an individual or as a family and there are lots of benefits.
Pendower House is a Georgian rectory. Roger Lamb will guide us through its formal herbaceous terrace, cottage garden and orchards to reveal ponds, streams and a 19th century shrub garden.
In contrast, the country garden created by Sue and Roger Paine at Gardens Cottage is relatively new. With imaginative use of colour and planting, and year-round interest, it incorporates a formal garden, long borders, a courtyard garden and a productive kitchen/cutting garden.
To download a booking form for this self-drive visit, please click here.
At Bickham House, we will discover seven acres of colour co-ordinated borders, mature trees, a fernery and a water garden. There is a formal parterre complete with lily pond and a walled garden full of vegetables and flowers. A palm tree avenue leads to a summerhouse.
Cadhay Garden provides a tranquil setting for the magnificent Elizabethan manor house built in 1550, a tour of which is an option. Full of colour, the garden includes a 120ft herbaceous bed planted with cottage garden plants. There are clematis, roses and lilies as well as two medieval fishponds. The walled garden has been transformed into allotments.
To download a booking form for this day trip, please click here.