“Queen of the Southern Garden”

Who can dislike a Camellia blossom? This flower ranks up there with the Magnolia when it comes to ubiquitous Southern charm. Grower and Camellia judge, Neil Nevin, brought a huge tray of Camellia blooms (so fresh the ants were still attached) from his yard in Yulee, which boasts over 170 varieties of the Queen of the Southern Garden! Neil was intent upon teaching us how to graft these beauties. So much so that days after his program he invited our members to his home for an onsite demonstration. Even photographs cannot depict the variety and beauty of his collection. If you have a semi-shady spot in your yard, do not overlook the Camellia sinensis, or it’s cousin, one of my favorites, Camellia sasanqua. I grow a rosy-red variety of the former in my wooded backyard, and as a plus every year I float the blossoms in a bowl until they dry. Then I stack them in clear containers and display them during the Holidays, or layer them in an oblong divided container. They are just too pretty to throw out, even after they are spent! Sidebar: when we purchased our home here in 2013, I asked the former owner about the color of her Camellia flowers. Her reply? “I don’t know.” How could any self-respecting homeowner not notice this beautiful shrub in full bloom long enough to note the color of the flower? Sigh.