When I was a little girl growing up in Montgomery we had the most amazing rose bushes in our yard along the front of our house. Of course we had azaleas too, we were in the South after all. But I was just mesmerized at the size of our rose bushes - much taller than I was - and the perfect, beautiful blooms they displayed were stunning. It seemed that half the year we had enormous red roses in our yard. I was an adult before I learned that what I always thought were roses were actually Camellias.
The Camellia is the state flower of Alabama and you can see them blooming all over the state during the winter. The first state flower was the goldenrod, but that got put aside in 1959 for the lovely Camellia. Although the Camellia is our state flower, it is actually an Asian import and probably arrived in Alabama via some European settlers. Thank you European exploration!
The Camellia and Hydrangea are my two favorite flowers. I can just sit and stare at their beautiful blooms. In fact, my wedding cake was covered with Hydrangeas, which has a great bloom in August, the month I got married. Of course when I married a man with a degree in horticulture, I immediately began to lobby for a yard full of Camellias and Hydrangeas! Fortunately for my husband, we purchased a home that already had both in the yard! Jason did transplant both of our Camellias and our Hydrangea to more suitable spots for their cultivation. In our backyard, nicely viewable from our porch area we have a lovely dark pink Camellia. Today is a warm sunny day so Josey and I went out and took some pictures of it. We have a light pink Camellia on the side of our house, but it isn't faring too well. Perhaps it needs additional cultivation. (that is an inside joke between my husband and me, please excuse the indulgence).
An aside: I have a cousin named Camille. I always thought she was named after the flower, but she was also born around the time Hurricane Camille slammed into the Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana Gulf Coast killing 143. Either way, I think the name Camille is as beautiful as the Camellia flower.
For nostalgia's sake, I loaded the babies up in the car today and drove to my old house...the one with all the Camellia 'rose bushes' in the yard. Sadly, there wasn't one in sight. Perhaps they bloomed already, or perhaps they've been replaced by some lesser bush. Whatever was there appeared to have the big green leaf of a Camellia, who knows.
Okay, I believe I have exhausted my discussion of the Camellia. I'll conclude with some pictures.
This is the Camellia bush in our backyard:
The color has begun to fade, but you can still see how beautiful the bloom is:
Jason & me cutting our wedding cake in 2004 - it was covered with flowers, mostly hydrangeas: