At this time of the year, if you spot a glorious rose bush in full flower, the chances are you’re looking at a Camellia japonica. I have a particular weakness for variegated camellias, so it’s not surprising that this one caught my eye.
Camellia japonica ‘Marchioness of Salisbury’ has deep red flowers, liberally marbled with white, making each flower unique. The double flower shape is very attractive, with flat outer petals circling a button made up of shorter, wavier petals. I’ve noticed the form variously called irregular, anemone, peony and elegans. They all work for me!
The foliage is green and glossy. This is a venerable cultivar, believed to date back at least to the days of the Reverend John Grimke Drayton at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina. No longer widely available, you’re most likely to discover a magnificent specimen in flower during a winter visit to a botanic garden.
These pictures were taken at The Huntington Gardens.