Too many camellia gardens, but never enough time to explore all of them. This seems to be the recent story of my life. Thanks to all of you who have invited me to visit your old camellia garden. I still hope to see your old camellias eventually and discover even more lost loves.
Recently, I sat down and began looking at the covers of past camellia society publications such as The American Camellia Society Journal and The Camellia Review. I looked at pictures of so many incredible varieties that once excited camellia lovers everywhere, but unfortunately many have become lost loves today. Sometimes we are so busy looking for the latest and greatest new camellia variety that old relics of the past such as ‘Pink Clouds’, ‘Astronaut’, ‘Cover Girl’, ‘Fred Sander’, or ‘Sunset Oaks’ just seem to disappear off the camellia radar screen. So many of these old lost loves are far better than lots of camellias being introduced today. We must find ways to preserve and reintroduce these older varieties to a new generation of camellia lovers.
This issue’s featured lost love is ‘Mrs. Jimmy Davis’. It was introduced by Wilson back in 1961 according the SCCS Nomenclature. I have 4 large plants in Sylvania, Georgia, and it is such an outstanding landscape camellia. The large anemone form blooms open early to mid-season with a dazzling display of incredible color in the garden. Back in September during the Atlantic Coast Camellia Society meeting, Bob Black was telling me how much he loved this old variety. I couldn’t agree more! This is just one example of why it is so important to preserve every lost love camellia as possible. There are many more just waiting for us to find them. Why not visit an old camellia garden near you and make some awesome discoveries?
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