|Camellia Festival Returns to Chiswick House|
Rare plants on show and restored Italian Garden
Chiswick House and Gardens Trust will bring a burst of glorious spring colour with the second annual Camellia Festival running from February 18th to March 18th.
The collection includes some rare specimens, including the unique Middlemist’s Red, originally brought to Britain from China in 1804 by Londoner John Middlemist, a nurseryman from Shepherd's Bush. It is one of only two in the world known to exist – the other being in Waitangi in New Zealand.
This year’s festival celebrates these beautiful blooms in the setting of the spectacular Chiswick Gardens Conservatory designed by Samuel Ware in 1813. To complement the Festival, the newly restored Italian Garden, created for the 6th Duke of Devonshire in 1814, has been replanted with an early display of Spring flowers. The early 19th Century Italian Garden was at the cutting edge of horticultural fashion and extravagant gardening.
The Camellias that grow at Chiswick are all of the species C. japonica. The original collection was ordered by William Lindsay, the 6th Duke’s Head Gardener, from Alfred Chandler’s Vauxhall nursery
Middlemist’s Red’ was originally brought to Britain from China in 1804 by Londoner John Middlemist, a nurseryman from Shepherds Bush. It is believed to have been presented by one of his descendants to Chiswick sometime after 1823 as the Sixth Duke added to his growing collection of camellias. Despite its name, the plant blooms a deep pink and is normally in full bloom during the months of February and March. The only other known plant of this variety is at the Treaty House, Waitangi, New Zealand.
Camellias have been grown in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam as a garden plant for thousands of years. The name of ‘Camellia’ was given to the genus in the 18th century, in honour of Georg Josef Kamel, a Moravian Jesuit apothecary and botanist, who worked in the Far East.
January 31, 2012