Chiswick’s rare camellias are one of the oldest collections under glass in Europe. Brought by ship from China, where they have been cultivated for thousands of years, they were a luxury commodity and a symbol of status. At the time of the 6th Duke, people thought they needed to be housed under glass. We now know that they thrive in the outdoors. Queen Mary, wife of King George V, was a great admirer of camellias at Chiswick and visited regularly to see them.
These extraordinary plants were in danger of being lost as the Conservatory fell into ruin in the late 20th century. Three local members of the International Camellia Society stepped in to look after them and saved the historic camellias. Today, Chiswick House and Gardens’ collection comprises 33 different varieties, including examples of many of the earliest varieties introduced to Britain – some of their plants are believed to date back to the 6th Duke’s 1828 collection.
Their camellia celebrations will take a low-key form in 2022 as the Conservatory is now in need of conservation repairs, which means the wings are currently closed. They do however have a self-led camellia trail, two open weekends and a camellia talk.
They have many different varieties of beautiful camellias thriving outdoors throughout the gardens. They have created a fun Camellia Trail, featuring 8 varieties, that you can download and follow at your leisure – available soon.
On the weekends of 26th and 27th February and 5th and 6th March from 10am to 3pm, the central Rotunda of the Conservatory will be open and will contain a pop up shop stocking a selection of gorgeous camellia themed products – including their very popular Camellia and Cedar Gin and a limited number of Chiswick House propagated camellia plants.
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