Seven magnificent Magnolia campbellii are being watched with interest to monitor the arrival of spring in the UK.
In recent years, the opening of magnolia blooms in Cornwall, which locally heralds the arrival of spring, has been as much as a month earlier than the Met Office ‘official date’ (this year, 1 March). To track the timings accurately, head gardeners at Caerhays Castle, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Trebah, Tregothnan, Trengwainton, Trewidden and Trewithen (all part of the Great Gardens of Cornwall group) are working with The Nare Hotel, Veryan-in-Roseland, to document flowering dates.
Each head gardener will update the number of open blooms on the Great Gardens of Cornwall website.
When all seven trees have 50 open blooms, the project will announce the arrival of spring in Cornwall.
Toby Ashworth, Proprietor of The Nare Hotel, began the project two years ago. ‘We needed to show people that the best time to see magnolias in full bloom in Cornwall is February and March,’ he said.
By incorporating the Cornish data, the RHS is expanding the project with a survey tracking the opening of M. campbellii blooms across the UK. Gardeners are asked to contribute to the online survey with data of where and when they see trees in bloom.
The results will be illustrated on the RHS website. Leigh Hunt, RHS Principal Horticultural Advisor, said, ‘This is a real toe in the water for us on how we capture phenological data. There will be value in repeating it so we can see seasonal differences.’
Check this page again later in summer for the results.