Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Camellia is related to my mug of tea...
Cupping a warm mug of tea in my hands on a cold winter morning, I was out in the garden admiring the showy flowers of our seventy odd years old camellia tree that had bloomed for us at this time of the year. “These teh hwa are beautiful, aren’t they?” said my wife as she picked a dewy flower for display indoor. “Have you just given a new name for the camellia?” I asked as I raised my mug of tea for a sip, without realising that teh hwa (茶花tea flower) was a name given for camellia in her Hokkien dialect. Before she could reply, I answered my own question to myself, “silly of me, of course the tea plant is related to the Camellia family” and also realised that the mug of tea I was sipping came from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis which is the source of commercially grown tea).
We have yet to identify this magnificent evergreen flowering camellia of ours but we believe it belongs to the species Camellia japonica which is the remote ancestor of many of our garden varieties. Our camellia has flourished in our front garden almost without attention and grows into a three metres tree since we first lived here. We have another different camellia in the back garden. It produces many fragile, dainty flowers which have a sweet peaty fragrance. But the petals fall quickly to the ground and when fresh form an attractive carpet before turning unsightly with spent blooms on the ground. Therefore I would recommend choosing a variety that flower freely and hold well on the tree and do not fall. Camellias are long lived. Often, the older they are, the better they are. Thus they make excellent commemoration trees as house warming gift for friends and relatives.