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Charles is the senior partner of Burncoose Nurseries.
He also owns and runs Caerhays Castle Gardens and Caerhays Estate. Charles’ great grandfather bred the original x williamsii strain of camellias at Caerhays in the 1920s. Caerhays are the holders of The Plant Heritage National Collection of Magnolias.
Charles is a member of the RHS Rhododendron and Camellia sub committee and has put forward many new magnolias, rhododendrons and camellias for registration and awards. Charles is the proud recipient of the coveted RHS Victoria Medal of Honour.
Two years ago we set ourselves challenging targets to install new back office computer systems, to improve the efficiency and order despatch times in our packing sheds and to revamp, expand and improve our website.
Two years on we see steady managed growth in our mail order business of over 10% per annum. We are now despatching double the number of internet mail order orders than we were five years ago. Well over 90% of all your orders are being despatched in five days (weekends included) and most smaller orders rather quicker than that.
Those familiar with our website will have found a whole new plant search system to help identify and select the plants that you might want. Over 1.2 million visitors used our website last year and perhaps half explored some of our new plant care articles or viewed our plant advice videos. In 2019 the equivalent of 148 twenty four hour days or 3562 hours were spent by you viewing these videos.
Just as our catalogue was once used by many customers as their plant reference book so, now, the website is performing this role much more effectively as the business grows. We now print and send out only half the number of paper catalogues that we used to and these may become a thing of the past in the next five years.
Our packaging is now as plastic free and biodegradable as we can possibly make it. The nursery has switched to using coloured and fully recyclable pots although this will take a year or two to complete as so many of the shrubs which we grow remain in the nursery for two or more years. Growing, as we do, mainly ericaceous plants means that we cannot simply switch to peat free compost overnight but we can reduce the quantities of peat used.
Many of the plants which we offer are already endangered in the wild and we feel that this is one of our main contributions to maintaining rare species and biodiversity in UK gardens.
Our landscape team have completed one of their largest jobs for many years at a well-known Cornish hotel. Despite or perhaps because of the Brexit situation our European export business continues. Planning issues have delayed the new greenhouse structures in the nursery but the number of visitors to the nursery itself continues to grow. Over 450 orders were clicked online and collected from Burncoose last year.
If you want to see even more about the gardens at Caerhays and Burncoose on a daily basis with plenty of pictures please do visit my Garden Diary once in a while. It is about plants, people and nature and occasionally rather irreverent!
With thanks to all of you and our dedicated staff team here.