Sunday, December 28, 2008


Both of my grandmothers were huge fans of Camellias. Regrettably, the huge pink camellia that once belonged to my father’s mother at the house they currently live in is no longer alive. My mother told me that Mama Parkee was continuously rooting pieces of that bush for people. A ten gallon aquarium use to sit on top of the television when she was alive. Momma said she would walk outside, break off a limb, toss it in the aquarium as she walked by and it would root every single time. I wish I had a piece of that old bush, but it’s too late now.

Some of you have heard me tell this story before, but I’m going to repeat it since it’s blooming now. My grandmother on my mother’s side passed away about six years ago. Her estate was liquidated and the house was sold. My grandmother loved her flowers and she loved to work in the yard. Before the house was sold I went down there to see if there were any small plants I wanted to dig up to place in my own garden. Right before she passed my grandmother had rooted a piece of one of her Camellias. It was barely six inches tall and if I remember right, may have had a total of five leaves on it. I dug it up and brought it home to plant in my garden. Year after year I watched it inch up in height. After about the third year, it began to get buds but they would never open and they always fell off the bush. I now know that is the nature of Camellias, the first three or four years after they are rooted they don’t usually have the strength to support blooms so they never open and simply fall off. Last year for the first time, it finally rewarded me with blooms and this year it has started again. It’s about 3 feet tall and wide now. Here is a picture of one of the blooms, but I have no idea what kind it is.

Grandmothers Camellia

Judy, my garden buddy next door has Camellias planted in her yard too. Following in my grandmother’s footsteps I’ve decided to attempt to root a piece of Judy’s camellia. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. If I’m successful in my attempt, we will be adding this unknown beauty to our garden somewhere. Although I was just a small boy when Parkee’s Camellia was alive, I’m pretty certain it was the same one, so I’m really hoping I can do this.

Judy's Pink


Cosmo said...

What a great story, Randy. I love camellias, and I can't wait for ours to bloom--though it may be February or March. I hope your rooted baby takes off! Happy Holidays to you and Jamie.

Phillip said...

Beautiful! I love camellias.

Wicked Gardener said...

What a great heirloom! I love the story about the aquarium on top of the TV.

Pam/Digging said...

I hope the rooting works, and I'm so glad you have a piece of your grandmother's garden blooming in yours. I'm sure that would have made her happy.

Chandramouli S said...

That's so beautiful Randy - your grandma's Camellia. It's so special to have a heirloom!

Jamie and Randy said...

Thanks for the good luck wish Cosmo! Normally, I would just go buy one, but I'm trying to teach myself some patience. :-)

You never said if you found the one you were looking for or not?

My mother said my grandmother had quite the green thumb when it came to rooting Azaleas and Camellias. We will see how I do with it.

The Camellia is one of three things that I took from her garden. My sister dug up the strawberries from her garden. I miss my grandmother, I'm sure she would have loved my garden.

Hey there Chandramouli S! I'm so glad you came back to visit with us again! It is a beautiful flower. The strange part is, as the weather gets warmer they go from this beautiful pink to a very dark red. I've never seen a Camellia change colors like that.

Frances said...

Hi Randy, what a wonderful story about your grandmother and her knack with that aquarium! I need an aquarium that works magic like that! Your camellias are beautiful. I have several but have never gotten the flower show that some do. Drought is not conducive to bloom production. But with all the recent rains maybe they will perk up. I will keep track of your luck with the cuttings!

Roses and Lilacs said...

I agree with Frances, a magic aquarium would be wonderful. Sadly, camellias don't grow here so I miss out on their beauty. Your photos certainly are lovely.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Camellias are gorgeous. I just droole over them every time I see them posted. Sadly I am not in the zone to be able to grow them. I will just have to enjoy them vicariously.

Jamie and Randy said...

I would have loved to have known her and her magic aquarium better. She died when I was very young. My daddy said that she was an incredible gardener and it was not unusual for people driving down the road to stop and ask her about her flowers.

Marnie, I'm sorry to hear you are missing out on the Camellias. Unfortunately, we are all prisoners of our zones. There are so many things I wish we could grow here. If I had my way it would be spring and summer all the time. But then again, we would have to deal with all those dreadful mosquitos!

Just like I was telling Marnie, I wish you could grow them, for that matter, I wish I had space to grow more. I want so many plants yet we are so limited with space. It makes it even more difficult when you are suppose to do that whole repeat, continuity thing to bring your garden together.

Jan said...

I feel the same way about having plants from loved ones. Your grandmother's camellia is lovely, and it is like having a bit of her with you today. Good luck on propagating your neighbor's camellia.
Have a Happy New Year.

Always Growing

Jamie and Randy said...

Jan I hope you have a spectacular New Year too!--Randy

Cameron (Defining Your Home) said...


I'm so glad to find your blog! I followed you back from the comments that you left for me. I will have to take some time to read your blog-- and I'm adding you to my blogroll.

Happy New Year!

perennialgardener said...

What a lovely story Randy. I think that is nice that you have a piece of your grandmother's Camelia growing & blooming in your garden now. That's a nice legacy to pass on to future generations. I wish you luck with the rooting of your neighbor's Camelia too! Looks like a beauty to me.

Jamie and Randy said...

You just read until your heart is content, but I warn you I tend to get a little long winded at times. Have fun and I'm glad to have you as a reader.

Isn't it strage how our sense of what is valuable changes as we get older? I'm curious to see if I can root the camelia. Time will tell us all. :-)--Randy

Annie in Austin said...

It's fun to imagine a future when you have several huge camellia shrubs and people come to you for rooted cuttings - passing on your grandmother's floral love.

Your camellias seem a lot happier than the two imprisoned in my garden! They're fine with the zone 8 aspect of Austin, but do not thrive in our drought & alkaline soil.But both japonica and sasanqua are good sports, producing some flowers each year.

Happy New Year, Randy & Jamie!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

♥Min Eden♥ said...

Helou Jamie and Randy!
I found a translator-machine and put it on my blog...just choose english, then the hole page is translated. The translator is not so good...but quite funny sometimes :)
I´m writing in swedish, by the way...I am an, so-called, finnsh-swede!

The Garden Faerie said...

Yes nice you got a rooting of one of your grandmothers' camellias! They look gorgeous and (pout pout kick) I can't believe they're blooming now for you! I think of camellias (which are outside my zone) as similar to peonies, and those won't bloom for me until late May/early June. The first time I saw camellias was when visiting England in March maybe 10 years ago. They were gorgegeous and everywhere! I finally stopped a random passerby and asked what they were--they stared at me like a was a special needs child because they're as common there as tulips or dandelions--plants EVERYone knows, not just gardeners. The same thing happened a while back when I was in San Fran, asking about eucalyptus trees, which have the coolest bark. :)

Jamie and Randy said...

They pretty much bloom in the Winter time here. It's makes a nice suprise on those cold days. Sometime the blooms get a little frost bite but for the most part they do just fine.--Randy

Jean said...

I think, I just THINK your grandmother's camellia is Mathotiana. If you look at the sidebar on my Seedscatterer blog, there's a pic of Mathotiana.

Seedscatterer Blog

Jamie and Randy said...

Jean! You are absolutely right! I can't believe I finally have the name for it! Thank you very much!And, I can't believer I've never seen your blog before. I'll have to keep my eye on you now. ;-)--Randy