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.
This five-day tour, with flights to and from Exeter airport, will take in some of Holland’s finest gardens including Het Loo, Hortus Botanicus, Delft Botanic Gardens, The Arboretum Trompenburg and the world-renowned showcase for the Dutch floricultural sector, Keukenhof. Other highlights include executive coach travel, bed and full buffet selection breakfast at the 4* Van der Valk Hotel, and a boat trip in Amsterdam. This holiday was fully subscribed at the time of going to press but we do keep a waiting list in case of last minute cancellations so it is worth contacting us if you are interested.
In a frost pocket, warmed only in winter by Bodmin Crematorium, Tony Ryde and his late partner, Michael created this three-acre riverside garden at Fletchersbridge, specialising in trees and shrubs. Magnolia, cornus, viburnums, paulownias, davidias and acers all flourish in this informal setting, complemented by ponds, waterfalls and a charming Gothic lodge. Enjoying the embrace of the adjoining Tregrehan Estate, Sibby Cottage is able to grow unusual tender plants, already over 900. Established only four years ago by Shirley and Ray Clemo (formerly of the renowned Pine Lodge Gardens), some large, inherited specimens form the backbone of the garden, whilst new herbaceous and shrub borders are underplanted with hundreds of bulbs. The booking form will be available in March