Camellia x williamsii 'JC 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
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
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
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.