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.
Crugsillick Manor, Ruan High Lanes, Truro TR2 5LJ - This is a wonderful late summer treat. Crugsillick is a lovely old house in an inspirational setting. The garden has been re-landscaped with a large pond and exotic flowering trees and shrubs on several levels. It has wonderful views, a kitchen garden, yew hedges and paths which define the oval lawns and broad mixed borders.
Rosteague, Portscatho, Truro TR2 5EF - This is a fantastic opportunity to visit Rosteague, an ancient manor house in a magical setting, with its lawns, flowerbeds and farmland rolling down to the sea. The 17th century French garden is its crowning glory with four large geometrical parterres of intricate box (Buxus sempervirens) hedging and topiary, sheltered by stone walls, which make it an interesting place to explore.
The booking form will be included in our June 2017 mailing.
Visiting Gardens in Wiltshire and the Cotswolds
With four nights’ accommodation at The Stratton House Hotel in Cirencester, this holiday will include visits to: Berkeley Castle with gardens that Gertrude Jekyll helped to design; Jekka’s Herb Farm with the Queen of Herbs herself as our tour guide; Bowood House and Gardens within one of Capability Brown’s most beautiful parks with a tour of its terraces and private walled gardens; and Rodmarton Manor with its garden of rooms.
We will also take in four gardens near Cirencester: Daglingworth House, a classical garden; Cerney House Garden where old-fashioned scents and colours abound; Ampney Brook House Gardens with its haven for wildlife; and the nearby Coach House Garden where rill, gravel, herbaceous borders, rose and green gardens prevail.
Visits to Waterperry Gardens with its beautifullylandscaped ornamental gardens and Buscot Park, which features one of Britain’s finest water gardens and a four seasons garden sheltered by mellow red-bricked walls, are also on the itinerary.
On the way home, we will stop at Derry Watkins’ nursery with its amazing range of unusual plants and Yeo Valley Organic Garden with its diverse, seasonal patchwork of ornamental and edible plant areas.
The booking form and full itinerary will be included in our March 2017 mailing.