Plant hunting and Dyffryn

Magnolias originated from south east Asia © National Trust

Magnolias originated from south east Asia

Plant Hunting during the 19th century saw a huge surge in popularity as wealthy adventurers explored the globe searching for new and exotic species to bring back to Britain. Reginald Cory was one such plant hunter and brought his finds back to Dyffryn. With its sheltered south-facing position these plants thrived and a few still remain today.

The garden at Dyffryn was designed by Thomas Mawson, a landscape architect who was renowned in his own time. The plants however were all sourced and collected by Reginald. He sponsored many plant hunting trips around the world - sometimes going himself.

The family business was in coal which they shipped to over 180 ports around the world, this gave Reginald a fleet of ships at his disposal.

A passion for plants

Although Reginald studied Law at Cambridge University he never practiced, as he was the third son he was not required to work for his living. Instead he pursued his passion of horticulture.

He was a member of the RHS, a liveryman of the Ancient Guild of gardeners, a well-known writer on horticulture, and an experimenter. In order to collect his specimens he commissioned plant hunting expeditions to China, South Africa and Australia to name but a few, but he was also a generous man and often shared his finds with others.

Lasting legacies

When Reginald died in 1934, he requested that everything in the house was to be sold and the proceeds donated to Cambridge University’s Botanic Garden. You can still see buildings commemorating his generosity today.

At Dyffryn you can see trees in the arboretum that are from the original trips commissioned by Reginald and many collections of plants that were inspired by his passion for collecting.