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.
The Gardens of West Wales Tucked away in the rolling countryside of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire are some fine parks and gardens, both large and small; ancient and modern.
Highlights of this five-day tour include visits to the Grade 1 listed Edwardian garden at Dyffryn designed by Thomas Mawson; the beautiful woodland gardens that surround Picton Castle; the innovative National Botanic Garden of Wales that blends the careful restoration of the historic, double-walled garden with the largest glasshouse in the world; the superbly restored 16th/17th century garden at Aberglasney, complete with unique Elizabethan/Jacobean cloister and parapet walk; Colby Woodland Garden, Singleton Park Botanic Garden and elegant plantsman’s gardens at Dyffryn Fernant and The Cors.
Dinner, bed and breakfast will be provided at The Beggars Reach Hotel at Burton. The booking form and full itinerary will be available in March
The Old Stable, Withiel The National Collection of Bamboos, near Wadebridge
We draw our year to a close with an autumn visit that weaves together ceramics and architectural forms against a backdrop of wildlife conservation. Forget your view of bamboo as an invasive species and enjoy the elegant varieties in this National Collection with exotic stem colour and a wow factor that offers architectural stature. The Old Stable offers a wildlife garden with ponds, rills and woodland enhanced by enchanting ceramics and practical garden solutions. The booking form will be available in June