This morning I popped into the Rienzi kitchen to find another staff member adding freshly cut flowers to a vase. “Where are those from?” I asked, thinking someone picked up a few bouquets of beautiful deep pink flowers from the grocery store. “The gardens,” was the reply. As a native New Englander, I was perplexed. Wait. Flowers? It’s January, we haven’t even started winter! I haven’t had a chance to wear wool sweaters yet!
I trotted out to the gardens to check out this phenomenon for myself, and lo and behold, there they were: beautiful, blooming camellias. Several varieties of camellia japonicas grow at Rienzi, including Kramer’s Supreme, Mathotiana Supreme, Debutante, and Guilo Nuccio. Many of them have been at Rienzi since it was built in the 1950s.
Native to Asia, they are also known as “the rose of winter.” They have been cultivated since the 11th century, arriving in the west with the Dutch East India Company’s Englebert Kaempfer, in 1692. They made their way to the American market in 1807.
They are the first flower species to bloom in Rienzi’s gardens each year, usually arriving in January, heralding in the lovely colors of spring that appear throughout late February and March.
Rienzi’s gardens are free, and open to the public 7 days a week. Stop by this spring to check out what’s in bloom!