Camellia season has begun! Early flowering species and cultivars can be seen in bloom in several areas of the gardens, especially in and around the North Vista.
The Huntington’s botanical collections include nearly 80 different camellia species—sasanqua, japonica, reticulata, hiemalis, rusticana, vernalis, and tunghinensis, to name just a few—and more than 1,200 cultivated varieties. Many of them are quite rare. The most historic plant in the collection may be Camellia japonica ‘California,’ which is believed to be the oldest camellia on record in Southern California. This specimen arrived on a tramp steamer as an unnamed seedling in 1888 and had two previous homes before being donated to The Huntington in 2003. Look for it, with its large rose-red flowers, in bloom right now on the east side of the road between the Library and the North Vista fountain.
While a number of camellias bloom early in the season, most will reach the peak of their bloom in January and February, putting on a dazzling display in and around the North Vista and the Garden of Flowing Fragrance. So if you can’t come see them now, don’t worry. There will be plenty more to come in the months ahead.
Lisa Blackburn is communications coordinator at The Huntington.