Camellia japonica ‘Marchioness of Salisbury’

Red and white Camellia japonica 'Marchioness of Salisbury'

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!

Camellia 'Marchioness of Salisbury'

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.

39 thoughts on “Camellia japonica ‘Marchioness of Salisbury’

  1. peggywillett says:

    Beautiful! Here in Seattle, our Camelia trees bloom in December and January and provide welcome bursts of color in our blissfully short winter months. Thank you for all the beautiful photos you share on your blog.

  2. Heyjude says:

    How much do you know about camellias? I have a white one in a pot, had loads of flowers last year, but not so much as a single bud this. Is this normal? I do like this one. And of cause Cornwall is famous for its camellias.

    • susurrus says:

      All I know about them comes through skim reading a treatise written by Robert J Halliday, a florist/grower in the 1880s before posting this. It is a guide to greenhouse production / growing in pots. It wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, but I loved the mix of good, old-fashioned experience, attention to detail and blunt honesty. For example, he writes about the ‘worthless kind of camellia’ that never flowers and estimates that barely one in a hundred people will be able to keep Camellia japonica alive and flourishing in ‘window gardens’ indoors, which was a trend at the time. I skimmed it again to see if there was anything on growing them in gardens but without success.

      • Heyjude says:

        Oh, well, I shall see what happens next year. I have recently repotted it, maybe it has been too busy growing roots. Thanks for the info – 😀

  3. kayrpea61 says:

    Reminds me of Emperor of Russia, Susan. My late father gave me two, grown from cuttings, when we bought this house in 1982. Needless to say, they are now sturdy shrubs! One dropped a seed, which produced pure white flowers, obviously one of the original “parents” used to develop the hybrid.

    • susurrus says:

      I looked it up online and it does seem very similar. I remember this being a little darker coloured in real life than it appears here, but red is always tricky to capture accurately. Plants with provenance (especially family) always have extra value, don’t they?

  4. Oddment says:

    I think I actually gasped when that top photo opened up on my screen here. It is magnificent! And I love the depth of the cascade in the second photo. What a start to my day — thank you!

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