The Rhododendron, Camellia & Magnolia Group

Three groups of plants – one group of enthusiasts worldwide

South West Branch Chygurno Visit 5 April 2017

The South West Branch had visited the far tip of Cornwall a few years back, and this was a return to see how things have developed. A new pair of very knowledgeable, energetic and keen gardeners have been in post for eighteen months and are already making their mark on the garden at Penberth, and the Moules are still maintaining their stunning valley side garden to a high degree and it continues to develop. Plants grow at an amazing rate in this very mild maritime climate, and it must take constant vigilance to keep control.


After a convivial lunch at the Logan Rock Inn, we travelled the short distance to Chygurno, the home and garden of Carol & Robert Moule. The site is spectacular, looking down a steep sided valley to Lamorna Cove and the sea. There was a large area of decking making the most of the view. What was an overgrown hillside has been tamed and planted up with a myriad of interesting plants, taking full advantage of the mildest of maritime climates available to gardeners in England. The Moules gardened in Cheshire before coming to Cornwall, so the contrast could hardly have been greater in gardening terms. Level paths have been created along the side of the valley with granite steps connecting them. The gravel had to be delivered by a large pipe to the lower levels as the access was so difficult. A rope was also used to climb down to reach difficult places. The results however have been spectacular. Growth is amazingly fast here, and the different varieties of Tree Ferns grown all look as if they are ancient with tall trunks, but are only in their late teens.

Of our three genera, we saw good examples of Rhododendrons bureavii, Phalarope, Trewithen Orange and a beautiful pink rhododendron which we were unable to name. The most stunning flowers were to be found on a seedling of probably maccabeanum or similar, with pale cream flowers with a dark centre, and bright yellow clapper-like pistils. It was sumptuous. A good white Camellia was Lily Ponds, which we had seen at Penberth earlier and there were fairly young Magnolias including M. Leonard Messel; one of the best. Bamboo lovers had many different bamboos to admire, and there were many ferns such a Blechnum chilense with a decent trunk such as I had seen by Lake Puyehue in Chile, but too tender away from the south west of Cornwall. Cyatheas and various Dicksonias were thriving which made one very jealous. Aeoniums, Agaves and Proteas were scattered about amongst the hardier shrubs such as the rare but perfectly hardy Xanthoceras sorbifolium which was flowering. One could go on listing the plants as there were so many interesting ones, and in very good health, but it is the garden as a whole which creates a picture with the sea at the end of the vistas. The clever design makes full use of the very steep site and opens up wonderful views along the paths. Almost all is now accessible . One could see what it may have been originally by looking across at the other and wild side of the valley opposite which made one realise the work that must have gone into creating the garden.

Chygurno is a magical place, and Robert and Carol are to be congratulated on their achievement.

John Marston

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