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Camellia collection

A history of the Camellia Collection

The Camellia Collection was started on this site in the 1980s and has developed into a large comprehensive garden. Over 400 different types of Camellia are grown to show the wide range of species, cultivars and hybrids introduced and developed over the history of this genus.

There are about 20,000 cultivars, almost all of which have come from Camellia japonica, influencing the common perception of what a camellia is.

Camellia species grow wild in a diverse range of climates and landscapes over South East Asia. The variable foliage of Camellia is well adapted to its localised conditions, whether from the island of Hong Kong, the sheltered gullies and wooded hillsides of southern China or the mountains of Taiwan.

Camellia are important as much as for their bold, dark, almost black evergreen leaves as they are for their flowers. They provide a contrast to finer textured herbaceous plantings and are a good addition to mixed woodland borders and to provide structure.

Significant plants

Camellia sinensis

This is the plant from which tea comes. Camellia spread from the east to the west in the 1700s as the western appreciation of tea grew. Importers thought they were getting a tea plant from China but instead were sent ornamental Camellia species. They decided however that the ornamental species were pretty good for their visual qualities anyway, and so the love affair with Camellia began.

Camellia transnokoensis

This is one of around 270 Camellia species. It is fine-leaved and delicate and demonstrates the grace of some Camellia species.

Seasonal highlights in the Camellia Collection

The Camellia flowering season begins in the late autumn and early winter when little else in the garden is blooming. Flowering starts with C. sasanqua and hiemalis, and finishes in early summer with C. reticulata, C. japonica and C. - williamsii.

Companion plantings of herbaceous perennials and bulbs add floral interest to the camellia borders in the summer months. Paeonia, Hosta and Helleborus flourish in the shade of the camellias.