So many old camellias and so little time seems to be my theme song lately. When the camellias are blooming, I want to be exploring the old gardens, but there never is enough time to check them all out. Last month, I had the pleasure of re-visiting an old garden in Savannah that was a camellia nursery many years ago. It had been over 40 years since I had been in that garden. It used to belong to Sugar Hill Camellia Nursery which was owned by Mr. & Mrs. Jimmy Luker. They were such a sweet older couple when I used to visit their nursery, and it was such a treat to explore that garden in search of more lost loves. I am still trying to locate several of their introductions to propagate including ‘Georgia Sunset’, ‘Dr. Hugo’, and ‘Champagne Music’. Hopefully, these varieties are still hidden in that old wonderful garden!
This issue’s featured Lost Love is ‘Mrs. Charles Cobb’. This old treasure was originated at Magnolia Gardens and first appeared on the camellia scene during the early 1900’s. The plant itself is vigorous and spreading. The medium size semidouble to loose peony flower is a dark red with almost a coppery bronze cast, and this variety makes an excellent addition to any garden today just as it did many years ago. Again, this camellia is one of those varieties that was designated “Mrs”. We know that the lady for which it was named was married to a man named Charles, but I often wonder about her first name. The world we live in today has changed much over the years, and it continues to change even faster today. One thing that remains the same is the beauty of these Lost Loves. They are waiting for us to rediscover them, so get out there and join me in the gardens searching for these timeless beauties!
Gene Phillips has a passion for camellia preservation and writes a regular feature column for the American Camellia Society’s Camellia Journal. To read more of these columns, join the American Camellia Society by visiting their website at www.americancamellias.com