The 140-acre English heritage Grade II Listed woodland gardens (home to a National Collection of Magnolias containing over 600 species) have cleared a 2-acre site directly above the castle front door which is protected by a line of ilex oak and beech trees, planted after the 1990 hurricane.
The area for replanting will still be fairly exposed to salt sprays from southerly gales. It will also be extremely hot and dry in the summer and parts of it have poor soil. The planting plan will therefore experiment with clumps of more tender, Mediterranean and subtropical shrubs which have never before been grown at Caerhays.
Caerhays, like all mature Cornish woodland gardens has many magnolias, rhododendrons other Asiatic plants, the majority planted between 1905 and 1932 as a result of the work of the great plant hunters George Forrest and Ernest Wilson in China. Many of these plants, as well as the associated windbreaks needed to protect them, have a life span of around (often less) 100 years so the gardens need to regenerate from time to time with major clearances and new replantings. This new plantation is by no means the first of these clearings, but for visitors coming up the drive from Porthluney Beach, it may well be the most visible.
Burncoose Nurseries (part of the Caerhays Estate) will be assembling the plants in the plan for replanting in March 2018. These will include fucraea, beschorneria, fascicularia, trachycarpus and xanthorhiza. Behind these more tender plants will be a selection of rare conifers, endangered in the wild. These will give some wind protection as well as creating architectural features for visitors in the decades to come (saxegothea, abies and cryptomeria).
Also included are a range of the new Matsumae cherries from Japan, notable for their floriferousness at a young age and resistance to the normal cherry diseases. Interspersed between these trees will be collections of rarer and more short lived shrub species which are new to Caerhays. Ribes, callicarpa and osmanthus in particular.
The objective is to preserve the view of the sea for visitors looking down on the new Plantation from the path above while providing them with many new and interesting shrubs to examine and admire. The new plantation therefore represents a bold advance in the range and diversity of plants in the Caerhays collections as well as creating some unique new views of Porthluney Cove from within the garden.
The new Isla Rose Plantation commemorates the ongoing work on the development of the garden by four more generations of the Williams family (Julian Williams (90), Charles Williams (60), John Williams (30) and Isla Rose Williams (0)) and will be officially opened by Roy Lancaster on the 17th March 2018.
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