I’ve been curious to know why our camellias hadn’t started to bloom as usual, especially after our trip to Mount Edgcumbe last week and admiring arrays of the shrubs flowering in shades through from white to red. Ours have been teasing us with pale green buds for a few weeks, so you can imagine how pleased I was this morning to see flashes of cerise at the garden’s end as I pulled up the blinds. At last, they have made an appearance. Camellias are related to the tea plant (Theaceae) and unperfumed, and ours have been with us during many eras, so I think of them as floral friends.

Cuttings were lovingly taken from a bush growing in Mr Word Loft’s garden when we first met. After a couple of years, we married and they grew from strength to strength in pots that we moved to each of our three homes over the decades. Two bushes are now maturing in the front garden and standing high, but need annual pruning to stop them from roaming onto the pavement. I’m told they look like giant lollipops after I’ve finished with them, but when I start cutting I’m never sure when to stop, and I prefer them that way, anyway.

Cultivated for centuries in Japan and China, it surprises me that the plants flourish so beautifully in our climate, but this is because the high soil acidity in Cornwall is ideal.

Pure and pretty – no wonder the flowers are the symbol of love and adoration and perfect to write about in the week that Valentine’s Day has been marked.

Until next time,
Sue. X