When it comes to magnolias, rhododendrons and camellias there is nowhere in Britain quite like Cornwall. It’s to our most south-westerly county that many of the great plant hunters sent their discoveries from the forests of India, China, Burma and the Himalayas. The young plants revelled in the damp, mild climate which resembled their mountain homes, slowly growing into mature specimens. The gardens of Heligan, Trengwainton, Trewithen, Trellisick, Caerhays, Carclew and countless others now house peerless collections of these magnificent shrubs and trees, all in their prime during spring.
At the Cornwall Spring Flower Show, held annually at Boconnoc near Lostwithiel, some of these great gardens continue to showcase the best of their blooms. Caerhays Castle gave visitors a real treat with bountiful displays of Magnolia ‘Apollo’, a hybrid between Magnolia campbellii subsp. mollicomata ‘Lanarth’ and Magnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra’. M ‘Apollo’ is a free-flowering tree, up to 4m tall, with large, cyclamen-pink flowers. The energy invested in flowers means it takes longer for M. ‘Apollo’ to develop into a big tree; it flowers over a long period in spring and then again in summer. If that were not enough, the flowers are also delicately scented, making M. ‘Apollo’ a great all-rounder for small gardens as well as great country estates.
Magnolia ‘Apollo’ is available from Burncoose Nurseries (part of the Caerhays Estate) at £55 or £75 depending on the pot size.