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.
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Saul Walker fell in love with gardening as a result of his grandparents’ passion for visiting historic houses and gardens.
After a brief spell as an archaeologist, he trained as a gardener for the National Trust at Antony House in Cornwall.
After completing the Kew Diploma in Botanical Horticulture, Saul travelled to Australia, Southern Spain and the French Riviera to study and work in internationally-renowned gardens.
Following that, he became Show Manager for RHS Chelsea.
Unable to resist the call back to his native Devon, Saul was appointed Head Gardener of Stonelands House. His special interest is in woodland gardens
Join Saul for this lecture via Zoom on Tuesday 9th February at 7:30pm.
Juliet’s previous career in medicine informs her unique approach to designing gardens and communicating the importance of landscape to our wellbeing. She believes that access to good quality green space is a priority for healthy living and happy communities, especially in cities.
In 2016, Juliet designed the Modern Slavery Garden for RHS Chelsea – its first social campaign garden – for which she was awarded a Gold Medal and the People’s Choice Prize.
Fellowships of The Society of Garden Designers and The Landscape Institute followed in 2017 and 2020.
Juliet has been celebrated as a role model in the BAME community at the GG2 Leadership Awards and presents on BBC Gardeners’ World and Channel 4’s Village of the Year.
At her Sussex Garden School, she teaches design and planting to gardening enthusiasts.
Join Juliet on Zoom on Tuesday 9th March at 7:30pm