Saturday, December 17, 2011

Camellias at Descanso Gardens

Yesterday my husband and I had an errand to run in Los Angeles and since it only took us the morning to get it done, I suggested a visit to Descanco Gardens, which is close by. It was a nice, relatively mild day with a lovely, clear, blue sky, therefore I thought it would be ideal to visit this public garden. Besides other things Descanso Gardens is famous for its rose garden and its camellia collection. I initially was eager to see the roses, only to find out that they were hardly blooming anymore and that the gardeners had started to prune them so I was a little bit disappointed about that, but the camellias alone were absolutely worth the trip. See for yourself!

All photos shown in this post were taken by my husband.

We were obviously not the only ones interested to see the camellias.

I loved the flower shape of this one. Look at the bloom that is hanging down in this photo. Isn't the form adorable?

Camellias come in many colors and forms nowadays and are referred to as "the roses of winter" and rightly so.

To me the contrast between the dark green leaves and the flowers is what makes these plants so very appealing. The leaves sometimes look like polished leather to me.

Habitually I stick my nose into every bloom in reach. And so I did with the camellias at Descanco Gardens. I was surprised to find that some of them are quite fragrant. My own two 'Nuccio's Gem' camellias (a white japonica variety) have no fragrance at all, so I was happy to find out that this is not the case with all camellia varieties.

There is a garden called the "Fern Canyon", which I happen to find an almost magical place.

The ferns are shaded by Coast Live Oaks (Quercus agrifolia). These trees have a majestic appearance and the ones at Descanco Gardens are obviously quite old. You can't help it but have to admire the beauty of these giants.

Have a closer look at how beautiful the structure of this tree is. Just marvelous! The Coast Live Oaks are also shading the camellias in this garden. They basically grow in an oak forest. Without the shade from the oaks the California sun would burn the leaves of camellias badly.

Unfortunately we had only very little battery power left in the camera, so we did not take extra photos of the name tags of the camellias in case they were there as we usually do. That is the reason why I can't offer any names to the camellia flowers that you see. Sorry for that!

I always think that white camellias are very special. They are hard to beat in terms of the elegance that they radiate. This one has particularly beautiful, dark, shiny, healthy, green leaves, which go so well with the white blooms.

Some camellia flowers have almost a frilly appearance and look very dainty like the one in the photo above.

If you are into camellias I would recommend a visit to Descanco Gardens at this time of the year, if you are in the area. You won't be disappointed!

See you in the garden!



  1. Dear Christina ~ What a wonderful garden!!!

    Thank you and your DH for the wonderful story and photographs. If I could grow camellias down here I would love adding some to my gardens. They are beautiful.

    Have a wonderful Christmas week ~ FlowerLady

  2. What nice photographs of the camellias, and I especially like the photo of the coast live oak. I visited Descanso almost three years ago, but in spring when the lilac garden was in bloom. I didn't even know that we could grow lilacs in California! Now I will have to visit in winter to see the camellias in bloom. Thanks for posting the photo!

  3. Wonderful garden. Love the trees, the ferns and the gorgeous camellias. The last two are exquisite.
    Thank you,Christina, for me LA is at the other end of the world ...

  4. FlowerLady, thanks for your nice comment! Too bad that you can't grow camellias as they are truly pretty plants, but all the tropical plants that you can grow surely make up for that ;-)! Wishing you a lovely Christmas time, too!

    Dorothy, thanks, I am glad that you like my husbands photos! I guess you have to visit Descanco Gardens in winter to see the camellias and I have to go in spring again to see the lilacs ;-)! I know lilacs from Germany and I just love them.

    Dani, thank you! Even though LA seems to be the other end of the world you could be there in about sixteen hours to see it all for yourself. That is not too bad, isn't it :-)?


  5. Christina, what a treat to see these wonderful blooms when it's so grey outside! I love Camellias, but I don't have them in my garden - there is no much shade here. But, I can enjoy my neighbors camellias. The oaks trunks are very sophisticated, I like them. And ferns - yes, love them! I took my Australian fern inside, and it adds a lot to the look of the house. I hope it'll survive the house' dry air.

  6. Oh, these are lovely! I love camellias. And that setting!!! It truly is magical! I'm so glad you took a detour from your errands and let us enjoy these beautiful photos.

  7. Hello Cristina,
    What a wonderfull blog about the camelia. They won't grow in my garden. It must be lovely to visit this beautiful garden, but I think I can't walk so many miles, haha. Have a great christmas and a fantastic 2012.
    warm wishes from Holland

  8. Thank you for the tour! Your husband is a great photographer (as you are too). I absolutely loved the image of the white camellia in the lower middle of your post - the light is wonderful in the picture. I grow one supposedly fragrant camellia, but even that is not really fragrant to my nose :(, not at all like a rose! I am glad you had a good time, I did too reading your post.

  9. I love camellias and miss growing them. They did very well in my garden in SC but struggle here. The oak forest is incredible!!! I'm adding David Austin's Abraham Darby to my garden this summer. I've grown it before and can hardly wait to have it again. Woo-hoo!

  10. Tatyana, it is definitively one of the great merits of camellias that they flower in autumn and winter and cheer us up in those seasons! I am surprised that you say you don't have shade in your lovely garden, since to me it looks like you have many mature trees, which I would assume are ideal to be under planted with camellias. Ooh, you have an Australian Tree Fern? I love those. Good luck with keeping him indoors through the winter!

    Holley, thanks, I am happy, too, that we decided to go to Descanco Gardens and were able to see all this beauty. It was so uplifting!

    Marijke, thanks, too bad that camellias are out of your zone range and you can't grow them outdoors, but I think if you would grow them in containers and bring them indoors in the winter you might be able to enjoy their bloom inside the house. Just a thought... Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2012!

    Masha, thanks for your compliment I will pass it on to my husband. I also love the play of the light in the photo with the white camellia that you mentioned! Well, even though some of the camellias at Descanso Gardens have been fragrant I don't know if they would win in a fragrance competition against a rose ;-)!

    Casa Mariposa, I can understand that you miss your camellias if you were able to grow them in a former garden. Congratulation to your decision to get Abraham Darby. It is a lovely rose and sooo... fragrant. Looking forward to photos of him blooming in your garden!


  11. Aren't they pretty?! I love all the different flower shapes and think I'm starting to prefer the singles. The two varieties I have won't bloom until spring. What a pretty garden to visit, those trees are beautiful!

  12. Beautiful Pictures. Lucky you that you are in California and thus can still grow all these. Here in the Northeast, everything is now barren :-(.

  13. Catherine, thanks for leaving a comment! I also love that camellias come in such a variety of flower shapes. There is a camellia for everyone :-)! Looking forward to seeing photos of your two camellias blooming in spring!

    KL, welcome to my blog! I am happy that you like my pictures! Living in the mild climate of Southern California is very nice and I feel often grateful for being able to do that. Wishing you that the winter in the Northeast will be not too hard on you!