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.
Padstow Kitchen Garden, Trerethern Farm, Padstow New Trevibban Farm, St Issey, Wadebridge
Padstow Kitchen Garden comprises four acres – nourished, nurtured and tended by sixth generation farmer and former Rick Stein Head Chef, Ross Geach. He grows a huge variety of vegetables that are served in some of the county’s finest restaurants including Rick Stein’s, Jamie Oliver’s, Michelinstarred Number 6 and The Driftwood. Come and see what he does, and how to grow your own.
The garden at New Trevibban Farm was commenced by the Day family in April 2017 and services their holiday homes. As yet incomplete, it was designed by Joe Midwinter and will eventually include formal, children’s and boules areas, with shrubberies, tree avenues, marquee lawns and a Piet Oudolf expanse adapted to the coastal position
A welcome return to 17th century Trenarth, near Constantine and a garden that continually evolves and innovates, providing year-round interest. With its emphasis on unusual and tender plants, structure and form, abundant wildlife, vegetables and orchard, there is something for all tastes. The magnificent dierama collection will be the highlight. A lovely walk down into the valley will bring us over to Chyrose on the opposite side. This is a member’s garden and with its charming terracing, roses, orchard and two vintage tractors, framed by their shared views, it will be a pleasure to visit. The booking form will be available in March