From 7/27/10 New York Times on how public gardens are scrambling to keep visitors interested:
“Because of environmental concerns, Descanso Gardens, near Los Angeles, is doing the once-unthinkable: it plans to uproot its historic — but nonnative — collection of camellias, some as tall as 30 feet, which were planted decades ago under the shade of natural woodlands. ‘It’s a fantasy forest,’ says Brian Sullivan, the director of horticulture and garden operations.”
“But the fantasy cannot be sustained. Camellias require so much water that it is killing the trees — not to mention being wasteful. Descanso will relocate the camellias, even though some will be lost, and allow the woodlands to return to their native state. ‘We expect opposition and kudos both,’ Mr. Sullivan said.
“But Descanso still must reach out beyond its aging membership group, he added, so it is remaining open in the evening; offering cocktails (including the Pollinator) at a new Camellia Lounge; breaking ground on a $2.1 million art gallery whose exterior walls will be hung with vertical plant trays that will blend into a turf roof; and maintaining an edible garden dense with fruits, vegetables and herbs that are donated to a local food bank.”
Descanso is a public garden I rarely visit, so I can’t even visualize where the camellia grove is. I don’t make an effort to visit the camellias at the Huntington either. But it’s interesting to hear of the old guard being shaken up. I’m all for that. But I’d always thought mature camellias were somewhat drought tolerant. There’s a huge camellia on my street in a neglected, unwatered garden that flowers profusely.
I don’t grow camellias, so have no suitable archived photo for the occasion, but how about a photo of Garbo, who played Camille? Some faces almost approach the perfection of flowers.