A Rendezvous with Exotic Beauty: Camellia Confessions on a Winter’s Day

January 26th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Camellia japonica ‘Tama-no-ura’ in the Camellia Corridor at Lyman Conservatory. My House Favorite.

Camellias are not cold hardy, and although there are a few exceptions (recent introductions claim survivos in USDA zone 6), they are considered zone 7-9 plants. Perhaps that is why these alluring beauties haunt my dreams. Why do we long for that which we can not have? Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love to garden in New England, but if I could grow Japanese Camellias, I certainly would! In meantime, there’s always the Camellia Cooridor at Lyman Conservatory, Smith College Botanic Garden.

And so —on a bitter, sub-zero, January day— I bundle myself up and head out for a steamy, glasshouse rendezvous. Camellias come into bloom anytime from mid to late winter (December to March) when grown in glasshouses, or outdoors in warmer climates. At Lyman Conservatory, peak flowering in the Camellia Cooridor begins in January. Opening the side door and slipping inside is like catching the sweet breath of springtime . . .

Powdery, flushed & breathless. Dressed for a glasshouse rendezvous. Camellia x ‘Ballet in Pink’ at Lyman Conservatory

Camellia japonica ‘Monjisu’ in the Camellia Corridor at Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory.

Camellia japonica ‘Rose Pink’, Showing Off My Favorite Form. 

The Camellia is native to Asia. A sign at Smith College Botanic Garden tells me that there are more than 250 wild species growing in sub-tropical regions of China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

Whether grown indoors or out, Camellia japonica (and popular hybrids), prefer semi-shaded positions and well-drained but rich, moist, acidic (pH 5.6-6.5), soil. When grown in pots, Camellias enjoy the same ambient temperature as many citrus trees (a perfect, cool glasshouse companion), with a maximum indoor range around 55F. That’s a little cool for my house, but it’s perfect for a orangerie. Shall we build one? I confess a glasshouse is a long-standing fantasy but it does seem rather extravagant. Perhaps someday. But for now the winter flowering Camellias are one of many great excuses to spend a day in my favorite conservatory. Thank you for a lifetime of pleasure, Smith College.

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If They Were Flowers: Ode to the Oscars Presenting The Gardener’s Eden’s Second Annual Academy Award Horticouture Fashion Review…

February 28th, 2011 § 14 comments § permalink

Dress by Aechmea tillandsioides (Bromeliaceae)

As Worn by Radiant, New Mother Penelope Cruz (Gucci) with Javier Bardem. Photo: Matt Sayles/AP via Yahoo

Last year, at the time of the Academy Awards, I was conservatory-sitting for out-of-town friends. The day after the show, while tending to the exotic beauties contained within the tiny greenhouse, all I could think about was how much they resembled the designer frocks I’d seen the night before. Like a crazed paparazza, I dashed from aisle to aisle, snapping photos of the tropical starlets in my care. I documented my red carpet observations in the post ” Ode to the Oscars: If They Were Flowers…” (click here to revisit the photos & essay from last year’s Oscars).

The dazzling display of gorgeous gowns at last night’s 83 Annual Academy Award show —red carpet blossoming with a parade of flamboyant hot-house flowers and sparkling ice-queens— inspired yet another evening of horticouture dreams. Sensational as the Oscar gowns were in silk, tulle, sequins and satin, imagine —if you will— what if they were flowers?

Dress by Camellia japonica

As Worn by Hostess Anne Hathaway (Valentino). Image: John Shearer/Getty via Yahoo

Dress by Iris

As Worn by Elegant Amy Adams (L’Wren Scott). Image: John Shearer/Getty via Yahoo

Dress by Abutilon hybridum

As Worn by Stunning Jennifer Hudson (Versace). Image: Jason Merrit/Getty via Yahoo

Dress by Phalenopsis

As Worn by Sultry Scarlett Johansson (Dolce & Gabanna). Image: Matt Sayles/AP via Yahoo

Icy Tulle Dress by Jack Frost & Rudbeckia Hirta

As Worn by Sparkling Halle Berry (Marchesa). Image: John Shearer/Getty via Yahoo

Dress by Paeonia lactiflora ‘Raspberry Sundae’

As Worn by the Sweet Hailee Steinfeld. Image: Jason Merrit/Getty via Yahoo

Gown by Kalanchoe ‘Mangini’

As Worn by Striking Jennifer Lawrence (Calvin Klein). Image: Steve Granitz/WireImage via Yahoo

Dress by Fothergilla ‘Mt. Airy’

As Worn by Floaty Hillary Swank (Gucci). Image: Jason Merrit/Getty via Yahoo

Dress by Hibiscus

As Worn by Last Year’s Best Actress Award-Winner: Ravishing-in-Red,  Sandra Bullock (Vera Wang). Image: Steve Granitz/WireImage via Yahoo

Dress by Allium schoenoprasum

As Worn by Ethereal Mila Kunis (Eli Saab). Image: Jason Merrit/Getty via Yahoo

Dress by Helleborus x hybridus ‘Royal Heritage Strain’

As Worn by Academy Award Winner for Best Actress, the Lovely, Expectant Natalie Portman (Rodarte). Image: Jason Merrit/Getty via Yahoo

Did you watch the Oscars last night? Which star do you think was best dressed? What flower do you think they resembled?

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Article and Botanical Photos are ⓒ Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

All Academy Award Photos are copyright as noted and linked (click on each photo for source)

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