Michelia PuzzlesThere are seven specimen Michelia trees at Caerhays planted in the late 1920s and in their prime today. Successive generations of the family and head gardeners here have assumed that we had in the collection three Michelia doltsopas, one Michelia floribunda and three rather different michelia specie plants which once had collectors’ numbers (sadly lost) but for which we have never had a definitive name or names. Roy Lancaster’s earliest visit to Caerhays in the 1960s involved him falling out of a so called Michelia doltsopa and breaking a limb for the benefit of the attending film crew.
Today, the naming of all seven of these specimen plants has been seriously called into question by a variety of experts who, thankfully, do not altogether agree in their identifications. Importantly we now have all Tom Hudson’s largely wild collected michelia species growing at Tregrehan to compare and contrast with the more elderly Caerhays plants.
One of the great pleasures of being a gardener who has never made a field trip to China is to sit back, stimulate and thoroughly enjoy an ongoing argument of this sort particularly where there is, to my mind, as yet no absolutely conclusive winner or definitive answer.
The full Michelia Puzzle article can be read here and was published in Cornwall Garden Society journal.
All the images from this article can be found on the Garden Diary - 13th March 2016.