|Chiswick House Defends £8 Camellia Festival Charge|
Over 2,000 visitors so far to see rare blooms
Chiswick House and Gardens Trust has defended its decision to charge £8 to people wishing to attend its Camellia Festival.
The ticket prices had attracted criticism on the ChiswickW4.com forum from local people who expressed their annoyance at having to pay for a ticket to enter the Chiswick Gardens conservatory to view the blooms. Some said they preferred to make do with looking through the glass rather than pay. Others complained that having to pay full price for children aged over six years old made it expensive for a family.
But a statement from the Trust said:
“There is an £8.00 charge for the month when the Camellias are really at their best and in bloom. The Conservatory is open Free from April – October.
The funds raised from ticket and plants sales all fund the ongoing conservation of the gardens and Camellia collection."
The Camellia Festival which was opened by Chiswick artist Sir Peter Blake, runs until March 18 th and has attracted over 2,000 visitors.
The statement added that the festival is a celebration of over thirty historic Camellia bushes that are considered to be one of the most important Camellia collections in the world.
“In the first two weeks, the Festival has attracted over 2,000 visitors from all over the UK and overseas as well as local London visitors, coming to find out about the history, the cultivation and growing of the Camellias at Chiswick House and to enjoy the magnificently restored Conservatory.
Funds raised from the Camellia Festival last year enabled the full replanting of the Italian Garden beds for the first time in five years this Spring as well as contributing to the ongoing upkeep of the gardens.
The Chiswick House Camellia Collection is featured on BBC2 Gardeners’ World due to be broadcast at 20.30 on March 23 rd
New features for the festival in 2012 include the replanting of the Italian Garden; new Camellia displays by specialist nursery Trehane and experts on hand to advise on every aspect of Camellias and how to grow them.
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.