Tag Archives: camellias

LaGrange: Hills & Dales Estate


A not-to-be-missed site for garden travelers is the Hills & Dales Estate, the historic home and gardens of the Fuller E. Callaway family located on 35 acres of rolling hills and shady dales approximately an hour south of Atlanta.

Your first stop is the Estate visitor center to arrange a tour of the 30-room manor house. The Callaways commissioned architects Hentz & Reid to design their Italian villa style home, which was completed in 1916. There are wonderful views from the windows overlooking the gardens and one can pick out the mottos formed in some of the boxwood parterres below.


Either before or after your tour of the home, the visitor center has a short film on the history of Ferrell Gardens and Sarah Coleman Ferrell, who began expanding the gardens on the original site in 1841. It’s well worth your time and gives a proper context for the gardens themselves.

Mrs. Ferrel seems to have designed the gardens based on formal Italian Renaissance and Baroque designs in a series of patterns, mazes and descending terraces. She loved to share her gardens with others and used to invite local children to play in the parterres, even holding Easter egg hunts. One of the children who visited was Fuller Callaway, who grew up to become one of the South’s textile magnates. When he grew up, Fuller and his wife, Ida Cason Callaway, ended up buying the property in 1912 and built their home on the site of Mrs. Ferrell’s cottage. The Callaways, father and later his son Fuller, Jr. and his wife Alice, continued developing the gardens. The idea was always that the property would someday pass on to a foundation and be open to the public.

“Life is short, and as we pass this way but once, why not strew our paths with rose petals, so as to leave fragrance on life’s way?”

—Ida Cason Callaway, 1929


What’s Special

  • The signature plant is dwarf English boxwood, but there are also American boxwood, tree boxwood, Spanish boxwood and curly leaf boxwood. Overall, there are 2 ½ acres of formal boxwood parterres.
  • 23 different species of Camellia japonica.
  • Magnolia Walk, where the magnolias were reportedly planted from seed during the War Between the States.
  • Explore the greenhouses, where occasionally you’ll see blooms amongst the orchid collection which includes cattleyas, phaleonopsis, cymbidiums, vandas, brassavolas and angreacums.
  • Conifer collection includes more than 30 varieties from at least 13 different genera.


Children under six are not allowed in the manor house.

March – June

Tuesday – Saturday

10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.


1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

 July – February

Tuesday – Saturday

10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Closed on New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas. Visiting hours are subject to change. Please call before visiting.

1916 Hills & Dales Drive, LaGrange, GA. 30240

Call 706-882-3242. GPS: 33.039041 / -85.048439

email: info@hillsanddales.org

Clippings: Camellia Gardens and Festivals

Camellia Middleton PlaceCamellias, often referred to as winter’s rose, light up the landscape from November to March. Originally from eastern and southern Asia, the evergreen foliage does best in light shade and a slightly acid, rich, well- drained soil. A soil pH (degree of acidity or alkalinity) of 6.0 – 6.5 is considered best for camellias. The “Camellia Belt” is generally regarded as USDA Hardiness Zone 7 – 9, although some cold-hardy hybrids have been developed.

Gardens Famous for Camellias

  • Middleton Place, Charleston, South Carolina. Centuries-old camellias (Camellia japonicas) bloom throughout the winter gardens in December through March. Located on the Ashley River Road outside of Charleston, S.C.
  • Massee  Lane Gardens,  Fort Valley, GA. Home of the American Camellia Society and over 1000 camellias, Massee Lane Gardens is a 100+ acre botanical garden in Middle Georgia. The Gardens are the historic home of the American Camellia Society and have been designated as “A Garden of Excellence” by the Society.  The cultivars include Camellia japonica, Camellia sasanquasCamellia hybrids and other species. The Festival of Camellias is a month long celebration held in February, with the first Saturday as the kick-off.
  • The Judge Arthur Solomon Camellia Trail is located at the Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens in Savannah, Georgia. A project of the Southeastern Camellia Society in cooperation with the University of Georgia and the Friends of Coastal Gardens, the Trail was begun in 2002. With  sasanquas, snow, vernal and common camellias and their hybrids, it is one of the most diverse and unique collections of species camellias in North America. Located roughly 10 miles southwest of downtown Savannah.
  • Descanso Gardens, La Cañada Flintridge, CA. North America’s largest camellia collection—more than 34,000 plants and more than 700 camellia taxa growing on 20 acres. The annual Camellia Festival is held Feb. 8 and 9, where forest sprites lead tours of the camellia collection for all ages. Tours last approximately 20 minutes and are on a first come, first served basis.
  • Huntington Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA. 12 acres of camellias, with sixty species and 1,200 cultivars, the Huntington has one of North America’s most comprehensive collections of camellias. The International Camellia Society has named the Huntington as an International Camellia Garden of Excellence, one of only five in the world.



From the Camellia Society, here are some common terms:

Japonica: one of the most well-known species of Camellias. Originally from mainland China, Taiwan, southern Korea, and southern Japan.
Reticulata: a species of Camellia native to southwestern China, with usually large, loose blooms.
Hybrid: a cross between multiple Camellia species.
Sasanqua: a species of Camellia native to southern Japan, usually shrubby, and with varying petal types.
Miniatures: blooms that are 2 1/2 inches or less in size.
Seedlings: blooms from a non-registered variety of Camellia that is unique from previously registered varieties.
Mutants: blooms from a plant of an established variety of Camellia, that differ from the standard look of that
variety’s blooms.
Unprotected: Camellias grown outside, not in a greenhouse.
Untreated: Camellias grown naturally, without the use of gibberellic acid.
Treated: A bloom that has been treated with gibberellic acid (called gibbing).
Gibbing: The technique of applying gibberellic acid to a bloom to induce growing and size.

Charleston: Magnolia Plantation and Its Gardens

Charleston, South Carolina

Magnolia Plantation and Its Gardens

gardens_longbridgeandlake1Magnolia Plantation is one of the great plantations on the Ashley River Road,  begun in the 1680’s by the Drayton family. The gardens were open to the public in the early 1870s and  are one of the oldest public gardens in America.

gardens_slopewalkToday the 50 acre-garden of Magnolia Plantation includes a spectacular maze with over 500 Camellia sasanquas, as well as azaleas, daffodils, and much more. The maze is based on one designed by Henry VIII at his country estate, Hampton Court, in 16th-century England.

Once a reservoir for the plantation’s rice fields, the adjacent Audubon Swamp Garden offers 60 acres of blackwater in a cypress and tupelo swamp,with bridges, boardwalks and dikes.

There’s a tram tour of the plantation’s wetlands, lakes, forests, and marshes, along with a boat tour through Magnolia’s flooded rice field along the Ashley River. Also, zoo and nature center and Plantation gift shop.

Open 365 days a year, including all major holidays.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
3550 Ashley River Road   |   Charleston, SC 29414
(800) 367-3517

[ info ]

Ringwood: New Jersey Botanical Garden at Skylands

Ringwood, New Jersey

New Jersey Botanical Garden at Skylands

PA040077-ManorW2-300The New Jersey State Botanical Garden (commonly known as Skylands) has 96 acres of specialty gardens surrounded by 1000 acres of woodlands, along with a 44-room Tudor revival manor house.  Part of Ringwood State Park, New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry, Department of Environmental Protection, the NJBG at Skylands is on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The house and gardens were originally built in the 1920s by Clarence MacKenzie Lewis, a New York City stockbroker, civil engineer and horticulturalist, who hired noted architect John Russell Pope to design the manor house. Mr. Pope’s other works include the National Archives and the National Gallery of Art.


Perennial Border restored to theoriginal design; Crab Apple Allée that stretches a half mile; Hosta/Rhododendron Garden; Wildflower Garden; Lilac Garden with more than 100 varieties; Peony Garden; banks of azaleas and rhododendrons; a Magnolia Walk with sweet bay magnolias that are not usually found this far north.

New Jersey BG-moraine-200The Moraine Garden (moraines are deposits of rock left behind by melting glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age) features heather, sedums, gentians, dwarf conifers, and many low creeping plants.


Admission is always free; parking is $5 during high season

Open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily

Located in Ringwood State Park,

2 Morris Rd., Ringwood, NJ 07456

Phone 973-962-7527 or 973-962-9534 [ info ]

Rockford: Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden


Rockford, Illinois

Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden

The Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden is beautiful throughout the year. Features around the 155-acres include the Nancy Olson Children’s Garden and a Prehistoric Garden, as well as other specialty gardens including Hosta, Grass, Butterfly, Daylily, Peony, Rhododendron and Azalea and, Wildflowers.

In addition, a bur oak grove covers 12 acre, with the largest bur oak trees estimated at over 300 years old. Impressive native trees among the grove include an enormous basswood, giant black cherries, white oak, shagbark hickory, black walnut and hackberry. Plus, over fifty species and cultivars of coniferous evergreens on site represent nine groups from North America, Europe and Asia.

Woodland trails include 1.5 miles of paved paths in two loops and 2.5 miles of unpaved trails through the heart of the Arboretum. In the winter, the trails are great for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

What’s Special

During your visit, see if you can spot the Klehm Arboretum mascots (pictured): Cow-li-flower, Klehmentine and Flora Fauna.


Open Daily: 9am – 4pm

2715 S. Main St | Rockford, IL

(815) 965-8146

Email Klehm

[ info ]

Winterthur Estate and Gardens




Winterthur, Delaware

Winterthur Estate and Gardens

Winterthur (pronounced “winter-tour”) is the horticulture legacy and childhood home of Henry Francis du Pont (1880–1969).  Set in the hills of the Brandywine Valley, du Pont created a wonderful 60-acre naturalistic garden within Winterthur’s 1,000 acres of woodlands, meadows, and streams.

The plantings at Winterthur bloom from late January to November, delighting visitors with a true living landscape. Generations of du Ponts from Evelina du Pont Bidermann, the first owner of Winterthur, to Henry Francis du Pont, the last private owner, have lived here.

A garden “should fit in so well with the natural landscape that one should hardly be conscious that it has been accomplished,” H. F. du Pont said.  The concept of the four layers of natural woodland (ground cover, shrubs, small trees and tall tree layers) are incorporated to create a beautiful garden that’s regarded as one of the last “Wild Gardens.”  As the website explains:

“The garden encompasses the entire estate; the views in every direction are important to the whole; the woodlands, hay fields, and meadows are as crucial as the more formally planted areas. The paths are an integral part of to the overall design, curving rather than straight, following the contours of the land, passing around tree, drawing walkers into the garden. At Winterthur ‘color is the thing that really counts more than any other,’ said du Pont. A master of color, the garden is known for its harmony and “near-discords,” as landscape architect Marian Coffin, who worked with du Pont on the garden’s hardscaping, wrote with admiration.”

Be sure and take the narrated garden tram shuttle at the Visitor’s Center to acquaint yourself with all Winterthur has to offer (and of course, allow time to visit the house!) Stops include Azalea Woods, Magnolia Bend, and Enchanted Woods.

What’s Special

Enchanted Woodsthumbnail

Enchanted Woods. There’s a saying that “Faerie folks are in old oakes.” In this enchanting three-acre children’s garden,  woodland fairies live on Oak Hill where there’s a Troll Bridge, Fairy Flower Labyrinth, Faerie Cottage, Frog Hollow, Tulip Tree House, Bird’s Nest and much for children to explore.


Open Tuesday–Sunday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Located at 5105 Kennett Pike (Route 52), Winterthur, DE 19735

For in-car GPS and online mapping services, use: 5105 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE 19807

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Huntington Gardens

Chinese garden Huntingtoncgmain

Huntington, California

Huntington Gardens

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a research and educational center founded in 1919 by railroad and real estate magnate Henry E. Huntington. The renowned Huntington Library Collections houses among its treasures a Gutenberg Bible (ca. 1450–55); the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (ca. 1410); original letters of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln, as well as early editions of Shakespeare.

TripAdvisor recently ranked the Huntington Botanical Gardens as among the top 10 public gardens in the U.S. The Gardens began in 1903 when Henry Huntington purchased the San Marino Ranch. Huntington relied heavily on his superintendent, William Hertrich, to develop the plant collections.

Today there are about 120 landscaped acres and more than a dozen principal garden areas with more than 14,000 different varieties of plants open to visitors.

Featured gardens include: Desert, Japanese, Subtropical, Herb, Jungle, Palm and Rose Gardens, as well as one of the largest collections of camellias in the country.

HuntingtonchildgarddwgThe Helen and Peter Bing Children’s Garden has the themes earth, air, light, and water. Its interactive sculptural elements are sure to delight children, with based on, with a fog grotto, magnetic sand, pebble chimes, prism tunnel, and other attractions.

The Huntington’s Chinese Garden, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance, or Liu Fang Yuan, eventually will be one of the largest classical Chinese gardens outside China. The words liu fang, or “flowing fragrance,” refers to the scent of flowers and trees, including the pine, lotus, plum, and other native Chinese plants found here.

CGterracejadeAccording to the Huntington, “A Chinese garden can be compared to a scroll painting composed of carefully arranged scenes. . . As you stroll through its pathways and pavilions, new vistas are revealed as if a scroll were being slowly unrolled. In the garden, as in a painting, several key elements play an important part in creating balance and harmony in the composition.” In the garden, water symbolizes change and rocks, the eternal, combining to create harmony, balancing nature’s yin and yang.  Plants may represent the seasons (peach blossoms for spring, pine for winter), while others stand for attributes such as purity (lotus) or uprightness (bamboo).

Located near Pasadena in the city of San Marino. 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA  91108

Closed Tuesdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Independence Day. [ info ]

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A Garden Traveler’s Pilgrimage: Charleston

Whaley Garden

Where’s your Holy Grail?

Will you follow the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) across northern Spain, a route walked by millions of pilgrims since the Middle Ages, and who, even today, make the journey on foot, or by bicycle or even on the back of a mule? Are you one of the legions of Elvis fans across the world who make the annual pilgrimage to Graceland in Memphis?

For gardeners, Charleston, known as “a city set in a garden” is Mecca – the ultimate destination for gardeners. For me, within this Celestial City of Southern Gardens, my own Mecca remains steadfast: Mrs. Whaley’s Charleston garden on Church Street.

It was early on a Sunday morning and the garden wasn’t open to the public the first time I made it there. But we were heading back to Atlanta and I could not/would not leave Charleston without making an attempt to see one of the most visited private gardens in America.

Like many of the gates and fences standing sentinel at the gardens of Charleston, the grillwork here was fashioned in black wrought-iron; a flirtatious Southern belle offering just a glimpse of a well-turned ankle. It was a charming gate, but still, it was keeping me outside of this particular Eden and I wanted to see more. Was that pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira) around the corner? I fancied that I caught a whiff of Confederate jasmine. Perhaps that sweet scent was a tea olive (Osmanthus fragrans)? Somewhere nearby a church bell was chiming.

Mrs. Whaleys garden view Church Street rosesThe current occupants of the house were undoubtedly enjoying a leisurely second cup of coffee, lingering over the Sunday paper, oblivious to this strangers lurking just outside. But I was determined to catch a peek at the masterpiece the late Emily Whaley created, based on the plan originally drawn up for her in 1940 by Mr. Loutrel Briggs, the renowned landscape architect who designed many of the wonderful gardens in Charleston.

Alas, my traveling companion was tugging on my arm, mumbling about trespassing on private property, and I was forced to retreat with only a hasty look at my Holy Grail of Charleston’s gardens. In my mind I was not trespassing. After all, when your garden is the title of a book – “Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden,” by Emily Whaley in conversation with William Baldwin — as well as the subject of numerous magazine and newspaper articles and has even appeared on the cover of the Charleston telephone book, it’s inevitable that stray gardener pilgrims will pop up from time to time.

Luckily for me (and everyone else), during the Historic Charleston Foundation’s Annual Festival of Houses and Gardens, owners of the private gardens in the Historic District of Charleston graciously open their signature wrought-iron garden gates – and in many cases their front doors – to welcome visitors. During the month-long celebration, daily tours feature the interiors and gardens of nearly 150 historic private houses in 12 colonial and antebellum neighborhoods during the peak of the city’s blooming season.

I have visited Mrs. Whaley’s garden several times – legitimately, courtesy of events like these in Charleston – and I am always inspired and always vow to return. After all, inspiration is what we’re all searching for, in one form or another.
The late Emily Whaley said it best: “Inspiration is the bottom line. Without it the first move could not be made. . . . We see, absorb, winnow, and sift, and finally our imaginations take wing and out of all this come our gardening plans.”

Thank you, Miss Emily.


Hoover: Aldridge Gardens

Aldridge_Fuchia Lacecap-smaller

Hoover, Alabama

Aldridge Gardens

The Aldridge Gardens was originally the home of horticulturalist Eddie Aldridge and his wife Kay, who conveyed the property to the city of Hoover in 1997. Although best known for the magnificent hydrangeas, the gardens showcase 30 acres of shade gardens with many varieties of camellias and native plants and trees. There’s a  3-acre wildflower garden, spiral herb garden, and nature trails around 7-acre lake.

What’s Special

Eddie with Snowflake closerThe signature flower of Aldridge Garden is the Snowflake Hydrangea, discovered by Eddie Aldridge and his father in the woods in Alabama in 1969 and later patented.


Free Admission
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

3530 Lorna Road

Hoover, AL 35216

Phone 205.682.8019

Email info@aldridgegardens.com [ info ]

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Dothan Area Botanical Gardens

Dothan, Alabama

Dothan Area Botanicagallery-19_dothanl Gardens

Construction began in 1996, and today the Dothan Area Botanical Gardens features 50 acres of cultivated gardens with plants and trees indigenous to Alabama. There are over 15 specialty gardens: the Demonstration Garden with a working windmill; Butterfly Garden; Azalea, Camilla and Hydrangea Gardens; The Bernice J. Dykes Memorial Garden; Succulent Garden; the Daylily Garden with over 200 cultivars of daylilies; a Rose Garden with more than 400 roses, a Shade Garden and others.

The Southern Heirloom Garden (photo)is a collection of bygone plants that are often overlooked with the arrival of hybridization — poppies, larkspur, old roses and Confederate Jasmine in spring, followed by petunias, zinnias, and Black-eyed Susans and others in summer. Many of the specimens were collected throughout the Southeast from family gardens, old homes and roadsides.


Free of charge and open daily, most gardens are accessible to visitors with disabilities. Group tours are available by reservation.
Location: 5130 Headland Avenue, just off U. S. Highway 431 North. 4 Miles North of Dothan
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Birmingham Botanical Gardens

BirminghamCrape Myrtle
Birmingham,   Alabama

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Alabama’s oldest municipally owned garden, the 67.5 acre Birmingham Botanical Gardens is comprised of Gardens of Collections, Gardens of Nature and Gardens of Culture.
Gardens of Collections focus on a plant genus. Some of the gardens are the Abroms Rhododendron Garden, the Crape Myrtle Garden, Fern Glade, Hess Camellia Garden, Hosta Walk, Ireland Iris Garden, Jemison Lily Garden and the Dunn Formal Rose Garden.
As one of the Gardens of Nature, the 7.5-acre Japanese Garden features traditional components such as a tea garden, the meditative Karesansui garden, the hill and stream garden, and a stroll garden.
Other features include the largest clearspan greenhouse in Southeast, C. Beaty Hanna Horticulture & Environmental Center with plant diagnostic lab, restaurant, gift shop, tours.

Admission is free. Gardens open 365 days a year, dawn to dusk.[ info ]

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