The Camellia Garden
Camellia collection includes about 60 species and over 1400 different
cultivars. These occupy approximately twelve acres of native oak
woodland, including the North Vista and the North Canyon, used
originally as testing grounds for growing camellias. When
Mr. Huntington bought the land in 1903, two camellias were growing
here; today one of these, a ‘Pink Perfection’ still
thrives. In 1908-09, 24 camellias were purchased from a local
nursery. Additional plants were acquired along with the
Japanese house and garden in 1912. In 1951, the North Vista and
North Canyon camellias gardens were permanently opened to the
public and the collection continues to grow. Native
to Asia, camellias comprise more than 200 species, some of which
live more than 400 years. The North Vista, Species Lane, the future
Chinese Garden, the North Canyon and Japanese garden, with their
wooded acreage, combine to host a vast array of Asian-American
plants. Many shade garden plants accompany camellias, such
as azaleas, ferns, dogwoods, ground covers, fuchsias, magnolias,
etc. With great diversity in flower color, form, and size,
as well as foliage and growth habit, camellias provide an endless
array of beauty over a six month period.
North Vista (designed by Myron Hunt)
- Fountain is a 17th century Italian in the baroque style.
- 17th and 18th century statues are limestone figures from mythology.
- Species Lane is an area dedicated to showing the vast diversity of the genus Camellia, from low growing, horizontally branched Camellia trichoclada to the large leaved, heavily veined Camellia semiserrata.
- Elegans Lane educates visitors about genetic mutations that give rise to new cultivars or "sports." When this happens, a camellia will have a different flower color or form growing on one branch of the plant. Thirteen new cultivars have been named from the original cultivar, Camellia japonica, ‘Elegans’
- Reticulata Knoll displays cultivars of the species Camellia reticulata. These have an open, rangy growth habit, and the largest flowers of all camellias. Native to the Yunnan Province of China, they were first released to the West in 1948. The Huntington acquired 13-15 of the best cultivar. Camellia reticulatas bloom late in the season, from February to April.
- Huntington introductions – The Huntington has introduced eight new cultivars into the nursery trade. Popular with hobbyists, several have won awards as best new introductions for that year. These include: ‘Margarete Hertrich’, ‘Robert Casamajor’, ‘Mrs. Goodwin Knight’, ‘Beverly L. Baylies’, Betty’s Beauty’, ‘Little Michael’, ‘Carl Tourje’, and ‘Rudy’s Magnoliaeflora’.
- Japonicas are most common, shade loving, bloom January to March.
- The Huntington has 100 of Nuccio's Nurseries' (Altadena, CA) introductions, considered to be some of the best in the world for consistent bloom and growing habit of the tree.
- Sasanqua Hillside — Camellia sasanqua tolerates sun, blooms October through January, often fragrant, small flowers that shatter. They often have a weeping habit and small leaves, giving them a finer texture.
- Tea plants (Camellia sinensis) — the tea we enjoy drinking comes from this camellia, including green, China, and oolong types.
- Higo — flower form of japonica, single flower with up to 250 beautifully splayed stamens, developed in Japan and prized as bonsai in containers.
- Snow camellia (rusticanas) — native to a snowy region of Japan, have adapted to the weight of snow.
- Oil camellia (oleifera) — oil extracted from seeds, used in cooking and cosmetics.
- Camellia Docents with special training maintain a table to answer questions.
- Annual Camellia Show sponsored by the Southern California Camellia Society, held in February. Sale of camellias to the public.
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