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
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RHS Garden Rosemoor Flower Show Great Torrington
New to the RHS calendar for 2017, this show proved to be a great success with visitor numbers greatly exceeding expectations and RHS Garden Rosemoor resplendent in its autumn finery.
Add to that 20 very diverse nurseries, garden sundries, trade stands, specialist talks in the fabulous new Garden Room building, craft demonstrations and the like, and you have the recipe for a very interesting day.
Although Rosemoor is the smallest of the RHS sites, this does not stop it from drawing visitors from far and wide, its size providing a cosy and inclusive atmosphere.
Venture outside of the show area and you can explore all aspects of the garden, including a new apple orchard planted in spring 2017 that features regional Devonshire apple varieties. The Spiral Garden is being redeveloped as the Cool Garden by RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal winner, Jo Thompson, which demonstrates practical and innovative methods of managing heavy rain. The booking form will be available in June.
Courtesy of RHS Rosemoor Flower Show
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