Places in our hearts

I photographed this camellia from our yard on January 15, 2003.

I photographed this camellia from our yard on January 15, 2003.

“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.” Gertrude S. Wister

When we first moved to Virginia, I was delighted that the home we bought featured several camellias along the back fence.  They’ve grown impressively large, and since they bloom in winter, they add color during some dreary days.  We had camellias in California, too; even in the milder winters there, where many types of flowers bloom year round, I always enjoyed their striking beauty.

I loved camellias even before I realized that TEA comes from a plant in that family!

Wherever you are, I hope there are at least a few flowers blooming.  Feel free to send us photos or links to gorgeous flowers, to brighten up our January.

One year ago today

Mad with joy


  1. sarvjit

    The plant, named heart, doesn’t flowers, until it is given water, named love.

    • That is a lovely thought! It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes, which I have had posted on the wall in my little garret for many years now. Plants, like people, require love — and love often translates to attention, watering the plant, listening to the friend.

      • sarvjit

        Now, that’s a lovely thought. Thank you for the light.

  2. Ann

    Thank you for adding a spot of beauty to my morning. The latest cold snap took a toll on my camellias but I have hope for the late blooming ones. Your photographs always take my breath away!


    • Thank you Ann, I am so happy you like the photo! When I see such ephemeral beauty I feel compelled to try to capture it in a photo. Of course, the photo cannot fully do it justice, but sometimes it does bring back the full memory, and also helps us see things we might overlook in “real” life. I hope your camellias will rebound and bring you some color!

  3. I better get some of these for my yard. It needs some bright things. Will the deer eat these? They ate up my hibiscus RIGHT ON THE PORCH!!! BAD DEER!! I moved it inside thinking it was a goner but it has come back beautifully and blooms all the time. Happy weekend my friend. Love, A

    • Amy, anything that can be eaten by deer, rabbits, squirrels, voles or assorted unknown critters WILL get eaten up in our York backyard. Based on the way our camellias have flourished, I think I can say that at least some varieties of them are fairly critter-proof. Good tip about the hibiscus; I won’t even try them though I have toyed with the idea, having loved them so much in Hawaii where our backyard was surrounded with them on 3 sides (we planted them to cover the chain link fence on base housing, and they did that quickly and very well). Hibiscus will now join the list of plants we just can’t keep as anything other than critter food: tulips, hostas, etc. including the one that really broke my heart, a lovely blueberry shrub that I hoped would eventually live to bear fruit – but the deer had other ideas!

      • I am sure those would have been delicious berries. I won’t try that. We have some box shrubs they have left alone so far but of course they don’t bloom.

        • I had a dream about deer last night, no doubt due in part to our conversation, but it had an obvious double meaning. I’ll have to tell you about it next time we have tea :-).

  4. Michael

    Camelias are pretty awesome. We have a red one similar to the picture in our front yard, but it blooms in June. We don’t have any winter ones though I have heard of them and I believe some nurseries carry them. Right now I have a blooming “Davona ” primrose-light yellow on the kitchen table. Our Daphne Odora is close to bloom; another great winter plant.

    • I have wondered whether winter camellias would bloom even in very cold climates. I don’t see how they could bloom as profusely as ours do here. Ours usually peak in December, before the first REALLY cold weeks. I will have to look up the plants you describe. I want to give some thought to having year-round color since I love it so much. One thing I do appreciate about camellias and some azaleas is the evergreen foliage.

  5. Good evening, Julia. Beautiful camellias. Thanks for sharing your lovely flowers.
    Hope you and Jeff are enjoying some relaxing days. Hugs for Matt.

    • Thank you Merry! Now that Jeff is back to work, there is a bit less relaxation but we are still taking t hings at a slower pace. The sun is peeking in and out of the clouds today so I hope for a nice walk in a little while. Hope you have a lovely weekend!

  6. raynard

    Julia it wont be long before I buy my tickets to the flower show. I use to grow roses and “tried my hand at tulips( plant early is the lesson i learned) Might”dabble at hydrangeas in pots.( it’s that color thing good for your “eyes and it warms the soul in my opinion.. I had a old neighbor who’s terrace was pictured in the apartment guide magazine. Only the potted plants were fake.( who knew but her lol) be blessed and have a great day…

    • You know I’ve seen some lovely floral displays that I discovered were artificial when I got up close. They were just as pretty from a distance as if they had been real. Of course real is better but sometimes the artificial can look amazingly real and do fill in the gaps nicely.

  7. Your yard must be beautiful when they’re blooming and in winter, WOW. That’s glorious. I’m enjoying flowers here, they’re so plentiful. I snapped these photo’s yesterday thinking I’d make a post, so for you xo a preview 😀

    • WOW how totally gorgeous! I love that red ginger. I don’t remember ever seeing lantana growing in Hawaii! Of course the Hibiscus bring back memories. Thanks so much for the preview and for keeping in touch from the land of aloha! My post tomorrow is about our friends here in Virginia, the Puakeas, who keep us in touch with our Hawaiian memories. Robert left the big island about 3 decades ago but he is still “one local guy” as they would say in Hawaii. He is one of the relatively few people from the islands with true Hawaiian heritage – it’s now such a melting pot of many cultures that there are very few Hawaiians there compared to all the other groups. The whole time I was at UH I only ever met one Hawaiian who had 100% Hawaiian blood. Have fun and thanks again for the lovely preview!

      • 😀 Welcome J. Yes, I imagine it is a melting pot. Much like Alberta. So many foreigners come to work because the monies good and jobs are open (for now anyways). It’s nice living in a multicultural city though. There’s lots of fun cultural festivals, craft and art shows or the annual ‘Heritage Festival’ a giant multi-day food and dance show with a separate tent for each culture attending. There are a lot of school programs offering unique language courses too. We enjoy the different dining opportunities around town too. You probably saw the movie the Descendants? I loved the music so much and I’m enjoying hearing that a lot too. xoK

        • I had not seen that movie and truthfully never even heard of it, but I looked it up, and it sounds interesting. I’m not a George Clooney fan but I will add that to my ever-increasing list of movies I want to see (currently The Book Thief is at the top). I really did enjoy all the cultures in Hawaii and especially learning about the differences in all of the Asian and Pacific Islander cultures that tend to get lumped into one category here on the mainland. It’s fun to be able to travel around the world without leaving town!

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