Toast of the Town: Camellia

Toast of the Town: Camellia

Camellia’s are currently the toast of the town from a delightful January 16th  New York Times article interviewing local plantsman Charles Cresson to highlights in the January 2013 American Nurserymen. As a matter of fact, we received a visit from the International Camellia Society president, Patricia Short, this fall. We are also exploring possibility of creating a camellia garden along Chester road.


Camellia oleifera 'Winter's Interlude' in bloom in Harry Wood Garden. photo credit: J. Coceano

Camellias are enjoying resurgence and new found home in the northern latitudes due the breeding efforts of Dr. Clifford Parks of Camellia Forest Nursery and Dr. Ackerman formerly of the USDA. These programs have introduced numerous new cultivars that can be grown in our area. Local camellia enthusiast Charles Cresson has been trialing them all.


Andrew Bunting, Charles Cresson, and Patricia Short of International Camellia Society discuss the merits of this genera. photo credit: R. Robert

He has described these winter blooming camellias are true opportunists. Some secrets to their winter blooming success are: be frost tolerant; don’t open all your blooms at once; and produce buds that survive frost. If you don’t open all your flowers at once, when you lose some to cold temperatures simply open another frost-tolerant bud on the during the next warm spell.


Plantsman Charles Cresson gave staff and volunteers a tour of his Camellia collection this past fall. photo credit: R. Robert

Through Charles’s recommendations, we have had great success with these winter and spring blooming beauties throughout the Arboretum gardens. Check out some his winter-blooming favorites. These blooms will brighten any winter doldrums day.

Camellia ‘Winter’s Interlude’ is a lovely clear pink anemone flower. photo credit: D. Mattis

A Dr. Ackerman introduction, Camellia ‘Winter’s Interlude’ is a lovely clear pink anemone flower with an upright habit. This little gem lights up the Harry Wood Garden as we prepare for the winter season from late October to December.


Camellia ‘Winter’s Star’ has rich pink single bloom. photo credit: C. Cresson

Giving us a show in early October through November, Camellia ‘Winter’s Star’ has rich pink single bloom. Another Dr. Ackerman introduction with a vigorous upright habit, this shrub performs well as hedge or border in the garden.


Camellia ‘Winter’s Charm’ has a lavender-pink peony-rose like bloom. photo credit: C. Cresson

Keeping with the winter theme and Dr. Ackerman introductions, Camellia ‘Winter’s Charm’ has a lavender-pink peony-rose like bloom. With a columnar habit, this shrub blooms early October to November.

White blossoms of Cameliia 'Winter's Snowman' kissed with pink. photo credit: R. Robert

Enhance your winter garden by picking up these great camellia cultivars at our Fall Plant Sale September 20 to 22. Visit our varied collection of camellias this spring to experience our diverse collection of spring bloomers as well.

Becky Robert
  • Florence Crowder
    Posted at 16:16h, 23 November Reply

    Hello, I read the NY Times article ‘Ready for Their Cold Snap’ and would like to ask a question related to the camellias. I found the article when I went to which also refers to a NYTimes article related to a project that I am working with, The McIlhenny collection of camellias. I am interested in the pre-1900 US introductions and am collecting scions for growing to plant at the LSU Burden Center in Baton ROuge, La. I am also the chairperson of the American Camellia society trail gardens committee. Can you tell me if there are pre-1900’s camellias in your area? If so, I would like to collect cuttings in February, if possible. Pat and Herb Short also visited the Burden Center garden in December of last year and we were accepted as an ICS Garden of Excellence. THank you so much for your time and attention.

  • Andrew Bunting
    Posted at 09:11h, 25 November Reply

    I am not sure if there are pre-1900 Camellias in this area. Local camellia expert, Charles Cresson may know. If you email me at I can give you his email address.

    Andrew Bunting, Curator

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