Trewithen’s wide Camellia collection
In February 2012, Trewithen became one of only 30 gardens around the world at the time to be recognised as an International Camellia Society Garden of Excellence, and the only privately owned garden in Cornwall to receive the award. Now Trewithen is one of 39 gardens worldwide to have this accolade and 1 of 5 in the UK.
Within its 30 acres of woodland gardens are over 200 varieties of camellia, a collection started by horticulturalist George Johnstone, who inherited Trewithen in 1904.
Joining a syndicate with J.C. Williams from Caerhays, amongst others, George Johnstone sponsored George Forrest on his plant hunting trips to China in the early 20th century. Wild collected seeds were sent back and, aided by the mild Cornish climate, the plants grew and the results of these expeditions now thrive in the gardens over 100 years later.
Such plants can be seen along the ‘Camellia Walk’, an area of the garden where either side of the path is flanked with plants grown from wild-collected seed. Also growing here is Camellia ‘Donation’, a very special plant that was given to George Johnstone and, because the original died before being propogated, all Camellia x williamsii “Donation” in the world owe their existence to the one at Trewithen.
Head Gardener Gary Long’s top camellia tips:
1. You don’t need a woodland garden to grow camellias – take inspiration from the Chinese and grow them in pots. Terracotta is best.
2. Choose where you are going to plant your camellia carefully – take into consideration light, air, water and food.
3. Pruning – as a general rule prune between March and June, when there are still flowers on the shrub.
4. Spring flowering Camellias are best pruned while they are still in flower before the new growth starts. This seems harsh but is best for the plant and the results can be amazing (plus you get some cut flowers to use).