A society for horticulture in Cornwall has been in existence, in one form or another, since 1832.
On the 18th of May in that year, the inaugural meeting of the Royal Horticultural Society of Cornwall was held, supported by the patronage of King William IV, who was “graciously pleased to place the sum of £10.10s.0d (ten guineas) annually at its disposal.”
The primary function was to hold two or three exhibitions of fruit, flowers and vegetables each year to bring the beauty of the Duchy’s large gardens and estates to the public notice, transport being almost non-existent compared to its prevalence today. This Society existed until around 1856 when records faded.
Although there is no tangible recorded connection between then and now, the same concept and ideas re-emerged in 1897 when an advertisement appeared in the Cornwall Gazette on the 4th of March to the effect that a Daffodil and Spring Flower Show was to be held in the Truro Concert Hall on the 30th and 31st of March.
This launched the notion of celebrating Cornwall’s fascinating horticultural history, which prevails to this day.
The owners of Cornwall’s grand gardens and country estates organised those early shows. Many of them continue to exhibit their flowers and foliage at our annual Spring Flower Show, and are now joined by the owners of smaller, domestic gardens.
Until the 1950s, this group organised annual shows under the banner of the Spring Flower Show Society, breaking only for two world wars, petrol rationing, or severe cold weather.
Realising that interest in flowers, gardening and all things horticultural was rapidly increasing in popularity, this Society formally reconstituted itself as the Cornwall Garden Society in 1958 with a much broader remit: to share knowledge of gardens and gardening with a much wider audience through lectures, workshops and visits to special gardens.
The Society’s annual Spring Flower Show, which has been held for more than 100 years, is currently staged at the Royal Cornwall Showground near Wadebridge. Described by The Daily Telegraph as ‘the Chelsea of the South West,’ it is one of the highlights of the horticultural year.
We are proud that Royal support has continued and have been honoured to enjoy the esteemed patronage of HRH The former Prince of Wales.