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Camellia x williamsii 'JC Williams'

Camellia X Williamsii J C Williams

Huge shrub covered in flowers along main path at far end of the pinewoods

 John Charles Williams (1880 - 1939), was the owner of Caerhays Castle in Cornwall and a plant breeder with a particular interest in Rhododendrons, Magnolias and Camellias. Caerhays is definitely worth a visit, their gardens are open between February and June - find out more information here.

Williams was also a business associate of A.K Bulley, the founder of Ness Gardens and they both sponsored plant hunters to collect new plants from various parts of the world.  One plant hunter they jointly sponsored was George Forest (1873-1932).

In the 19thCentury camellias were believed to tender flowering greenhouse plants (which could only be grown by the wealthy landowners with huge conservatories) with the added disadvantage of when their flowers started to fade, they clung to the shrub, looking for weeks like used tissue.

This all changed when Forest discovered Camellia saluenensis on an expedition to China in 1918. Seed was sent back to all the sponsors and in 1923 Williams crossed Camellia saluenensis, with Camellia japonica. The first seedlings flowered in 1926; some still grow at Caerhays Castle.  These were the now famous Camellia x williamsii hybrids. These new camellias were completely hardy in the UK, produced more flowers, and shred their faded flowers.

There are now of hundreds of different Camellia x williamsii hybrids, which form some of the most popular camellias in all our gardens such as J.C Williams, Donation and Jury's Yellow.  Indeed it is a reasonable bet that if you have a camellia growing in your garden it is probably an x williamsii hybrid.

AGM LogoAGM  (Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit).  This award indicates that this plant is recommended by the RHS following plant trials during which the plant met strict criteria testing its garden worthiness.  More information