Camellias are as robust as they are delicate


Since settling in Joséphine de Beauharnais' garden, at the Château de Malmaison, ornamental plants have become a fashion phenomenon.

againstIt is an evergreen shrub, the flowers of which are often compared to roses. If, however, the latter stand out in summer, the camellia, rustic despite what its elegant appearance suggests, can unfold its regular corolla and core with golden stamens by -15 ° C (depending on the variety, whether in winter or spring).

A strength under the sensitive side, valued by the samurai of Japan in the Edo period, who made it their motto, as shown in the movie Sanjuro (1962), by Akira Kurosawa, in which the red camellia announces an impending attack, and the white one raises the attack.

the Tsubaki – its name in Japanese – is a recurring motif in Japanese culture, unfolding on kimono fabrics, in art and stationery. In Europe, the plant gained popularity at the end of the eighteenthH Horn, for its leaves used in the form of tea. the Camellia sinensis (Also called cha In China), suitable for this purpose, is a commercial godsend for China.

Popular with patrons during the Belle Epoque

Unwilling to lose her monopoly, legend has it, she would have failed – or acted voluntarily? – It was sold to the English, who wanted to plant it on their land, seeds not from camellia tea, but from Camellia japonica For decorative purposes only. Never mind, Japanese camellias have become a fashion phenomenon: They graced the Château de Malmaison, in Josephine de Beauharnay’s garden, and then paraded in the belle boutonnieres of Dandy Époque, Proust’s included.

Read also: Lavender, the rebellious muse

Incorporating pure and graphic design, Gabrielle Chanel has, since 1923, created accessories, jewelry and studs. A century later, the house on Cambon Street made the flower, in giant version, the central element of the decor in its fall-winter 2023-2024 show.

In terms of decorativeness, the camellia is appreciated in the form of a bunch of branches, sometimes formed using the self-locking technique: “In a round, open-necked vase four stems of camellias are crossed to slip into the air two or three poppies or a few anemones and buttercups,” suggests Julien Frere-Mottant, artisan florist at Floral Officine Rue de Tournon, in Paris. The delight will remain purely visual: the camellia is odorless. A blessing in disguise, because as Mademoiselle Chanel pointed out: “Camellia has the delicacy of not inhaling any perfume, to provide women with the freedom to choose their perfume better.”

flowering period From December to March, then from March to May, depending on the type (about 250).

Favorite regions In Nantes, the capital of the camellia since its emergence in the nineteenth centuryH Century, in Finistère, but also in Landes.

Likes The land of heather, that the foot be in shade and the head in partial shade.

hated Heat waves, lack of water, as well as standing water, and high winds.


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