Just south of Dothan near the Florida line in the hamlet of Madrid, is a camellia garden of heavenly proportions! Linda and Bill Nichols have created this idyllic garden over the last couple of decades in the pine tree lined acres surrounding their lovely home. Bill, who is constantly amending and grafting specimens in their garden, is passionate about camellias and preserving their heritage. With much help from Linda, who is also a seasoned gardener, they enjoy sharing their gorgeous blooms with friends and family. From November to February each year, the couple enjoys traveling to Camellia shows in the Mobile area and Florida Panhandle. Meticulously packing each individual bloom in polyester pillow batting after inserting them in individual water picks, they have the procurement and travel methodology down to a science to ensure that their prize winning blooms arrive unscathed.
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited out to the Nichols’ home to help cut camellias for an arrangement my partner and I were doing for our business, Garden Gate. The Nichols, always gracious and enthusiastic, thought nothing of doning rain gear and umbrellas to help me cut 75 blooms or so. In the process, I learned their tips for preserving the blooms for traveling.
A lovely cast aluminum vintage urn was perfect to display the grandeur of the camellias.
An added bonus was having a few blooms to arrange on my dining room table in a silver pieces that belonged to my Mother.
What could be more elegant to decorate a cake for a friend’s 60th birthday?! (The white camellias in the second photograph were from the garden of my friend, Ginger Pratt, and her bush is probably close to 60 years old.)
Enjoy the seasonal blooms of the Camellia, a quintessential Southern garden staple. Find a show in your area this winter or, better yet, stop by your local garden center and plant a few bushes for your own enjoyment!