A Special Gift

As part of our collaboration to showcase the best horticultural practices and heritage produce, we were kindly asked to provide our partners at The Idle Rocks in St Mawes, with a special gift from the gardens for all the mothers joining them on Mothering Sunday.

After a short meeting with our Gardening Team, it was agreed that the perfect gift would be a single camellia bloom from our renowned National Collection. Historically, Heligan used to supply Covent Garden with fresh camellias, which were delivered on a bed of straw and put on a train from St Austell to London.

The Camellias chosen were from our historical collection, with all varieties grown pre dating 1920. They are predominantly different varieties of Camellia japonica and we currently grow around 130 different varieties in total.

Squire John Hearle Tremayne made the earliest camellia plantings. These include varieties such as “Althaeiflora”, “Anemoniflora” and “Fimbriata”. Later plantings in the 1870s and 80s by Squire John Tremayne feature some of the continental varieties, “Lavinia Maggi”, “Auguste Delfosse” and “Eugenie de Massena”, whilst the most recent varieties, “Gloire de Nantes”, “Fleur Dipater” and “Madame Martin Cachet” were planted by the last Squire of Heligan, Jack Tremayne.

During the period of decline in the gardens and estate, many plants, both wild and cultivated, flourished unrestrained. The specimens of Heligan’s National Collection were given both time and the protection of surrounding overgrowth to mature into the magnificent specimens, which can be marvelled today.

With regards to gathering them, it takes much longer than you would think to collect a perfect bloom worthy of such a special occasion… especially after a week of rain!

“If the petals are perfect and unblemished, then often the leaves may be damaged or marked. So, even if they look lovely on the tree they don’t always stand up to close inspection and a gardener’s critical eye,” comments Nicola Bradley Head of Productive Gardens.

Once picked, the delicate camellias were careful placed in beautiful gift boxes and transported to The Idle Rocks. Each one had been prepared with love, care and attention by our Gardening Team and presented to the elite few mothers dining at the prestigious Idle Rocks last Sunday.