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Camellia japonica in the rain

Native to China and Japan, the camellia is a cousin of Camellia sinensis, the tea-tree, whose leaves I drink every morning, as do millions of other people. Explorers brought the camellia back to Britain where nurseries developed many variations. "Their flowers come in such a range from white to scarlet and from single to double and convoluted that they can match almost any human emotion" (Hugh Johnson, The International Book of Trees).

I love seeing camellias here in Portland, but I have a dream of bicycling to the south bank of the Thames and visiting Kew in the spring. I've heard that 5 million bulbs and flowering trees are coming into bloom, camellias among them.