On our recent Dorset adventures I was keen to revisit Kingston Lacy and see the garden at a different time of year. I'd hoped that the camellias would be in flower, and I wasn't disappointed. I remembered that this gate would lead me to the camellias, but first we needed to walk through the Lime Avenue which this time was lined with daffodils.
The last time we were here - in 2015 - the lime trees were undergoing some work and the bushyness around the trunks were being cut back, but they were back, so it seems like many gardening jobs it's one that needs to be done, and re-done quite often.
It was a chilly day and our wooly hats were out.
I'd remembered correctly and it wasn't long before we were in the Winter Garden and admiring the camellias.
The plants originate from China and Japan centuries before they were seen in Europe; here in the UK they were first seen in Essex in the 1730s which is quite something isn't it? And the first here were red and white blooms, and by pure coincidence I'm typing this between a red and white flowering bush.
For me camellias are the type of flower you draw as a child, with their petals emanating from the centre. Red, white and pink are typical colourings - we have one of each in our garden - but I was rather taken with this pink version at Kingston Lacy.
The other thing that strikes me about camellias is how they fade; their petals turn brown but often they stay on the bush decaying beautifully. They're definitely an outside plant though, I cut some once to have as cut flowers in the house and within a day all the petals had fallen off.
They do eventually drop, but I think they look just as beautiful on the ground.
We also saw camellias - both the faded sort and the more colourful versions at Compton Acres, another of the gardens we visited in Dorset. I'll share more about that garden another time, but if you're in Poole, it's worth a visit and it's always nice to visit an independent garden, as as nice as the National Trust gardens are, at times I think they can feel a bit formulaic and same-y. That's not to say I don't enjoy them, but at Compton Acres it had a different vibe.
At Kingston Lacy I decided to look closer at some of the fallen flowers, this one was huge - easily bigger than my hand - and had a hole right through the centre where the stem would be. I tried to persuade MOH that it'd make a great adornment for his wooly hat, but he was less sure and having none of it. I've a photo of him looking none too impressed and I'll spare his blushes by not sharing it here, instead just take a look at the flower. I told you it was big...
I was also struck by the different shapes of the flower, this almost triangular, or star-shaped flower just goes to demonstrate my point. It has a more delicate look to it I think and is a delicate blush pink.
The buds of camellias remind me of peonies. All bound up tight in a ball and ready to burst; we saw that at both Kingston Lacy (above) and Compton Acres (below). They're fab aren't they - so much prettiness bound up into such a small and tightly bound sphere.
One of the camellias we saw at Compton Acres in Poole was this red one below, it stood out for its centre. It's quite different to the others we'd seen. The central section has much shorter, almost brush like petals, although I'm not sure if that's the correct name for them. It's just as pretty though isn't it?
And the other thing for me about camellias is how pretty they look on the ground. I was reminded of a walk around Standen a couple of years ago, but instead of a single bloom on the ground, it was more like confetti.
In our garden our red camellia is still flowering, it's still a little shy but I think that's mostly because it's shaded by the fatsia. At the back of the garden our newer, white camellia is also quite shy. The bush is growing and there's been a couple of flowers, but I think its best is still to come, so for me, it was great to see these camellias in full bloom while we were away.
Are your camellias still in flower, and are they as abundant as the ones we saw in Dorset?