Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Accidental Love

Roses are my first love.  I specifically chose to grow them because I have the right conditions for them.  Full sun.  Acidic soil.  Conditions too hot for blackspot most of the summer.  They can take our heat.  Most of them like our mild winters.   And they give back - blooming through most of the spring, summer and fall.  Roses are hard workers, and it's easy for me to love them.

Camellias are my second love, but they were an accidental love.

Being from the South, I had seen camellias in gardens here and there.  And yet I never really thought about them for my garden.  Why not?  Well, I was busy filling my garden with roses!  And other summer blooming plants as well, of course.  Plants that smiled up at you in the garden centers, begging you to take them home, plant them, and give them a chance.  Camellias bloom in the fall, winter, or early spring.  I hadn't yet thought about having something blooming in the garden during those times.  Camellias like good soil.  I have no good soil.  Camellias like shade in our scorching summer sun.  I don't have a lot of shade.  Camellias like to be protected from wind.  We get a lot of wind here, and not a lot of areas are protected.  Other plants have rows and rows given them in the garden centers during the height of planting season.  Camellias may get a small corner in an out of the way area of the garden center, if at all, and during the off season.  We were strangers, not having yet met.

Then a couple of years ago around this time of year, there was a death in our family.  And I received two camellias as gifts.  They were given by two different people, but with the same explanation: camellias bloom during this time, and they felt a camellia would be a nice remembrance, as well as a fitting gift for a gardener.

Since that time, I have added a few more camellias to my garden, and started learning more about this fascinating and beautiful plant.  I now go out of my way to acquire more camellias.  I go to nurseries that carry them.  I look for places to add them in the garden.  The ones I have, I try to make happy.  I amend the soil.  I try to plant them in the right sun/shade conditions.  I water them regularly.  I worry about them.  And when they bloom, I'm happy.

And a little bit sad, too.

A terribly tragedy brought camellias into my garden.  Now I think it would be tragic if my garden were ever without them.

I'm joining Donna at GardenWalk GardenTalk for her Word 4 Wednesday meme on Accidental.


  1. Hi Holley, I do love roses (you know that)... BUT--I do love Camelias also. I saw some gorgeous ones at Biltmore this past Summer....

    Have a great day tomorrow.

  2. Camellias are lovely! I think of them like Magnolias--more common in the south, but we can grow them here, too. I imagine cities like Savannah and Charleston are full of lovely, scented Camellias and Magnolias in the springtime--sounds like heaven!

  3. That is a beautiful camellia for remembrance and and a beautiful post! We just today bought 'Yuletide', a red sasanqua camellia, which I hope will do well in our zone 9 climate.

  4. I bought a beautiful pink one full of buds recently at Walmart. No label. It will have to live in a pot because my soil is neutral to limey and two have already died in the ground. Maybe the pot will also control its size which can't get too big in my small garden packed with roses. I would love to have 'Yuletide', but today I noticed how LARGE the ones at my work are. Love is love, accidental or otherwise. Lovely post, HolleyGarden.

  5. Camellias are gorgeous plants Holley, I'm not surprised you're also enamoured by them. It's amazing how incidences can sometimes bring things to your life, positively, in a way that you don't expect :)

  6. I smiled at your title, then see the beautiful article that went with it. I remember the rose of the Little Prince, remember by Antoine de Saint Exupere? And your camellia has been more beautiful and meaningful than his rose perhaps, depending on whoever's perspective!

  7. I love roses too and wish camellias would grow down this far south. I will enjoy them through your lovely gardens.

    That was a wonderful gift from two different people.


  8. I love Camillias. I keep thinking I might find one that would fit and do my zone. How nice two friends thought of you with them.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  9. Betsy - I don't know why I didn't fall in love with this plant sooner. I think I just hibernate most winters! They now give me a reason to go out in the garden during the coldest months.

    dorothy - I hope it does well for you, too. I think Yuletide is supposed to be a favorite of many.

    sherry - I'm learning that there are so many different camellias, and they come in so many different sizes. The lack of information on the ones at the big garden centers is frustrating to me. No information on when they will bloom, or eventual size, and the people working there are generally no help, either. I bet yours will look lovely in its pot.

    Malar - They are winter's rose!

    Mark and Gaz - I don't know why I didn't think of having them in my garden before. Now I have something to look forward to when everything else is winding down.

    Andrea - The Little Prince - I hadn't thought of that story for many years. I'll have to go re-read it now.

    FlowerLady - It is sad that camellias are not more widespread. I think they're working on increasing the 'camellia belt'. Maybe one day you'll be able to have them in your garden, too.

    Cher - I hope eventually you do find one that will work for you. They are an enticing flower.

  10. Holley - special thoughts headed your way for bittersweet remembrances that camellias bring back to you. ((hugs))

  11. I wish I could grow them. I was a wonderful gift of remembrance, one that is very beautiful and long living. Maybe the reason they were giving is the reason they bloom in your less than perfect conditions. They are being looked out for. Thanks for the accidental camellias.

  12. I so love seeing your plants and dreaming that they might grow here. But then I wake up and realize how glad I am that others can post them so I might enjoy them in their garden.

  13. Beautiful - and touching - post and great pictures!

  14. I love roses too but here in Wales the conditions are great for growing them. Mild, damp weather is typical the perfect breeding ground for all those fungal diseases that love roses. I still grow a few though. I love the English cottage garden style and my garden couldn't be cottage garden without some roses.

  15. Holley, I am glad that camellias found their way in your garden, even though I would have wished that the circumstances would be happier once. Your photos of this particular camellia variety are very lovely, I am looking forward to seeing the others that grow in your garden.

  16. What a beautiful post. Camelias are beautiful, and it's so great to see flowers in bloom when few things are.

  17. Ah Holley, I LOVE Camellias and yours are beautiful!

  18. I love camellias too, they are like winter roses to me. And just like roses, I think they can take a lot of different conditions than the recommended... plenty do just find in full baking SC sun as far as I can tell. Frankly I have roses which do worse in that mid summer sun because they are 'supposed' to be flowering then!

  19. Marcia - Thank you so much. I appreciate it. :)

    GWGT - They were a thoughtful gift. And now I have something blooming in my garden almost year round.

    wilderness - That's the nice thing about peeking into other's gardens. Getting to learn other plants, and maybe even finding one that will grow in our own gardens!

    CollegeGardener - Thank you.

    wellywoman - I think every garden should have a rose or two. Although I understand about wrong conditions for them. I'm lucky to have the conditions that most roses seem to enjoy.

    Christina - I tried to find photos from last year, but I couldn't find a one that was in focus. This is the only one that is blooming so far. I hope to get lots of photos this year of them all.

    Indie - The fact that they bloom in the fall through winter and early spring does make them special. And the bees appreciate them, too!

    Gardening Blog - Camellias are a bit intimidating to me because I don't know that much about them. I've read a lot, but experience is the best teacher!

    Jess - I've seen camellias in full sun, too. Hopefully I can find some of those varieties for my garden, as I have so few areas with shade.

  20. A beautiful post. I wish I could grow these but sadly I can't.. what a wonderful accident!

  21. Jennifer@threedogsinagarden
    I wish that there were happier circumstances behind your accidental love of camellias. They are certainly beautiful flowers. I could grow camellias here, but they don't fancy our terrible winters.

  22. Holley, such a sweet post for W4W. Camellias are (of course) not something I can or would try to grow here in the Great White North (it's snowing today, sigh) but I certainly can admire them from afar.

    I have a rosebush my ex-SIL gave me when my brother was killed and it is one tough little trooper. I have to admit I do not know the name of it, but it is a shrub rose and red and it does it's best to keep on going no matter what injustices I do to it. I have had it since 1995, and after a very harsh winter I thought it was gone, but it surprised me. I take much better care of it these days, and it is a pleasant remembrance.

  23. Sweet, sweet post. I'm sorry for the circumstances that caused the camellias to get into your garden, though they are a beautiful flower.

  24. Donna - I feel lucky to be in the right place to grow these beautiful plants.

    Jennifer - Maybe one day they'll have a camellias that can take the cold. Wouldn't that be fabulous?

    Karen - Thanks for sharing your story about your rose and its significance. How special. I'm glad it's survived all your winters!

    Hanni - They really area a wonderful flower. I am always looking for a spot of shade to add to my very small collection.

    Dewi - Camellias are like roses - they have different forms, different colors, and I think they are all gorgeous!

  25. Lovely post and lovely camellias. The camellia at our home was blooming when I moved in, I love to see it every spring, it's blooms always welcoming me home.

  26. I love camellias and grew a beautiful one when I lived in SC but they're fussy here and rarely bloomed so I ended up cutting mine down. It was an act of mercy. Your garden and roses are beautiful. :o) The Peggy Martin's were sent to me from a TX nursery that also sent me a Jude the Obscure. I'm exicted to see how they do next summer! Love your blog!!

  27. I love camellias! Anything that blooms in winter is ok with me :) I just put in some Fairy Blush camellias along my drive. They have tiny pink flowers like appleblossom and smell gorgeous too! I also think the glossy leaves make a nice backdrop when the plants are not in bloom.

  28. That was a touching post about camellias. I'm sorry to hear that it was tragedy that started your love for them but it seems that the people who gave your first ones were right. They are beautiful if bittersweet way of remembering your loved one.

  29. barkingbarb - How nice to already have a camellia in your garden. I think they are so wonderful to bloom when nothing else does.

    Casa Mariposa - Sorry they don't like your area. Sometimes we just have to realize that we can't have every plant. I think your Peggy Martins will do great. I don't have one, but I've heard others rave about theirs.

    Ruth - Oh, I don't know Fairy Blush, but it sounds wonderful! I like the glossy leaves, too. Not often you find some a beautiful bloom on an evergreen plant!

    Plant Chaser - Yes, I'm glad they chose camellias. Very sweet and thoughtful of them, and now camellias are special to me, rather than just another blooming plant.

  30. Holley, I'm sorry to be coming to this lovely post so late, and so sorry for your loss. You reminded me of a quote from a Dorothy Sayers novel--"we only know what's of over-mastering importance once it has over-mastered us." We go the extra mile for something once it really matters to us--like the way you're taking care of your camellias. Enjoy those beautiful blossoms.

    (I'm envious of you being able to grow them at all!)

  31. Stacy - Good quote, and so true. We do try harder with the things that mean something to us, or have a sentimental attachment. Thanks for chiming in.


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