Cornwall's Spring Story

The moment Cornish Magnolias flower, Spring has arrived in England

The Story

The Start of Spring

With our mild climate and the effect of the gulf stream, warming Cornish shores, spring arrives particularly early in Cornwall.

To the change of the seasons each year, gardeners who oversee champion magnolia trees at six of the Great Gardens – Trebah, Trewidden, Caerhays, Heligan, Tregothnan and Trewithen – all keep a close eye on the number of magnolia blooms on their champion trees.

When each of the six magnolia trees have reached 50 blooms, then we can officially declare that Spring has arrived in Cornwall!

In 2019 the arrival of spring was declared on Thursday 14th February

The Great Gardens of Cornwall would like to thank The Nare Hotel and Toby Ashworth, the founder of the Spring Story, for the support, dedication and enthusiasm so readily given since the start of this initiative. Toby harboured a strong belief that his hotel guests were missing out on the true magnificence of a Cornish spring by visiting in May, when the most splendid sight of all – the flowering of the magnolias – occurred in February and March each year. And so the idea was born; let’s get the message out there – spring comes earlier to Cornwall, and we can prove it!

The Champion Magnolia Trees

The Contenders

Below you’ll find details of each of the seven Magnolia campbellii champion trees we are monitoring together with profiles of the head gardeners who look after them.

Caerhays Castle Spring Gardens

About the Garden

Caerhays is an informal woodland garden overlooking the sea, extending to over 120 acres. The origins of the garden can be traced back to the work of the Chinese plant hunters at the turn of the Century and many of their new plant introductions can still be seen in maturity in the garden today. Caerhays hosts the Plant Heritage National collection of Magnolias with over 500 different varieties on show.

Key Facts on the Magnolia Cambelli

Head Gardener – Jaimie Parsons

2019 Bloomometer

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Jaimie is only the fourth head gardener at Caerhays since 1896. Although Jaimie’s family had been associated with the Caerhays Estate for many years, Jaimie only started work here in 1994. He trained at Cannington College, Bridgwater and became Head Gardener in 1996. Jaimie has instigated the greatest expansion of the gardens since the first decades of the 20th century and has also catalogued and progressed the establishment of the Plant Heritage National Collection of Magnolias at Caerhays.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

About the Garden

With more than two centuries of horticultural history, Heligan’s enchanting gardens and estate offer over 200 acres for your discovery. Home to a National Collection of ‘Rhododendrons & Camellias’, the UK’S largest rhododendron and the largest collection of Tree Ferns, The Lost Gardens is brimming with plantings to inspire and amaze.

Head Gardener – Iain Davies

Key Facts on the Magnolia Cambelli

Iain Davies spent much of his career in private gardens before taking up his position as Head of Gardens and Estate at Heligan in November 2014. He has already made a monumental impact at Heligan, transforming and enhancing many key areas throughout the Estate. Iain believes that a public garden should be a showcase so he continues to demonstrate as many gardening techniques as possible, even within period-correct areas such as the Productive Gardens.

2019 Bloomometer

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Trebah Garden

About the Garden

Trebah is a sub-tropical paradise with a stunning coastal backdrop. The result of 175 years of inspired and dedicated creation. This beautiful valley garden, bursts with exotic blooms and vibrant tunnels of colour which cascade down to a secluded beach on the Helford River.

Key Facts on the Magnolia Cambelli

Head Gardener – Darren Dickey

2019 Bloomometer

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Darren studied at Duchy College Rosewarne, followed by a training period with the National Trust at Glendurgan before joining the team at Trebah in 1991. Darren then had a sabbatical at Kew Garden before becoming Head Gardener in 2002.

Tregothnan

About the Garden

Tregothnan is an official ‘safe site’ for the keeping of rare or endangered trees from all over the world. The garden holds some ‘Red Book’ endangered plants and trees which are larger than any remaining in the wild.

Head Gardener – Neil Bennett

Key Facts on the Magnolia Cambelli

Neil was born in Essex and has lived in Cornwall for 11 years. He worked for a couple of years at Compton Castle in Somerset before becoming Assistant Head Gardener at Tregothnan in 2005 and then Head Gardener in 2007. He works closely with Garden Director Jonathon Jones on implementing the many new and exciting projects, including the first British-grown tea, as well as the maintenance of the 100 acres of private botanical collection.

2019 Bloomometer

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Trewithen

About the Garden

Trewithen is historic private Estate boasting one of the loveliest gardens in England. With its magnificent collection of camellias, rhododendrons and magnolias, its wonderful woodland walks and its heritage family home, Trewithen is a rare and unique Cornish gem.

Key Facts on the Magnolia Cambelli

Head Gardener – Gary Long

2019 Bloomometer

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Gary Long became Head Gardener at Trewithen in January 2004 and is only the third person to take on the role in over 100 years. Gary’s interest in gardening began at school during a period of work experience with John Bassett Landscaping. In March 2007 Gary travelled to China on a study tour to look at Camellia in their native environment and to see the International camellia species garden in jinhua. In 2012 he travelled throughout Yunnan province of China with the International Camellia Society.

Trewidden

About the Garden

Planted in the 1840’s by Edward Bolitho, Trewidden Garden has a rich horticultural and industrial past. It has a truly remarkable stand of tree ferns, set within ancient tin workings, said to be the finest in the Northern Hemisphere. It also has Champion Magnolias and an extensive collection of Camellias, Rhododendrons and Azaleas within a mature woodland setting.

Head Gardener – Richard Morton

Key Facts on the Magnolia Cambelli

Trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richard has had a wide experience of gardening in Cornwall, from private gardens taking in the fringes of Bodmin Moor to a coombe garden in west Penwith. With a keen interest in the Magnoliaceae Richard has been the Head Gardener at Trewidden for the last 5 years.

2019 Bloomometer

Diameter in Centimetres

Current Height in Metres

Date Planted