Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stars of the winter garden

I fell in love with the idea of camellias when I was seventeen and read La dame aux camélias for the first time. Since then, I have read the book, watched the films and the ballet and listened to radio dramatisations at every opportunity.

Marguerite Gautier, one of the most sought-after courtesans in Paris, passes every evening at the theatre or the ball:
Whenever there was a new piece she was certain to be seen, and she invariably had three things with her on the ledge of her ground-floor box: her opera-glass, a bag of sweets, and a bouquet of camellias.

Camellias thrive in my Devon garden but I never cut the blooms to bring indoors. I think the spirits of my dour Scottish ancestors prevent me from doing anything quite so decadent. But my friend and neighbour has brought me great bunches of camellias from her garden as a thank you gift.

I am transported to Paris in 1850, I am dressed for the ball, the maid has entered with masses of camellias, announcing that Armand is waiting with his carriage......


  1. Oh, yes these are now my favourite too, not for a very literary reason but more of a strange feline reason. I love them, I always forget what they are called though but they are beautiful on your table with stems and leaves!. You have to check out why I love them, it is so strange:

  2. Bethany, that is the most incredible thing I have ever seen! Le chat aux camélias?

  3. Hello Monix
    Camelia's grow well in my garden - once they are established they are one of the most drought resistant plants around.
    Unfortunately their only vice is that their blooms drop - bit of a pain when they are nicely arranged as a table centrepiece for 'that' dinner.
    Have you ever displayed the blooms floating on water in a glass bowl? Saves having a bloom drop in your dinner LOL
    Take care

  4. Hi Cathy, I don't bring the flowers into the house for that reason - they last so much longer on the shrubs. However, since my friend brought me these great bunches of bloom-filled branches, I am really enjoying their luxury. I'll try floating some on water, because they are dying so quickly in jugs and vases. Thanks for the tip.


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