The Camellia House at Planting Fields

Summer is now almost on us here in the City. Certainly the dew point is almost sixty-five degrees this misty morning. That’s a sure sign that our often humid, southern-flavored summers are slowly creeping northwards. But back in late March, it seemed as if winter wouldn’t ever end. Thankfully there are indoor spaces, such as the Camellia House at Planting Fields Arboretum, where you could take off the chill a bit. Built in 1917 to house an unusually fine collection of camellias purchased from Guernsey, the Camellia House was specially constructed by landscape-architect “Bobo" Sargent in the autumn of 1917 to hold the one hundred and fourteen full-grown plants being shipped across the Atlantic in tubs. Most of the plants were cultivars of Camellia japonica but the collection also included six Camellia reticulata which had never before been grown in the United States. When Sargent died unexpectedly in 1918, William Robertson Coe and his wife, Mary Coe, hired the Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Massachusetts, to continue work on the estate. The Olmsteds completed additions to the Camellia House in 1922. Today the Camellia House is home to one of the largest collections of these plants in the Northeast United States and is at the height of it’s exuberant bloom from December to March, precisely when you can really, really use a nice Camellia sinensis.

East entrance to the Camellia House at Planting Fields Arboretum.

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Camellia minutiflora and Camellia grijshii ‘Zhenzhucha’

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Camellia ‘Elina Cascade’


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Left, Camellia ‘Fragrant Pink’ and right, Camellia ‘Queen Bessie’.



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Camellia ‘Prince Albert’ and Camellia japonica ‘Kujacko Tsubaki’.

Camellia japonica ‘Kujacko Tsubaki’.

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Camellia ‘Lady Marion’.

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Camellia japonica ‘Tricolor’ (Siebold).

Camellia japonica ‘Te Deum’ (Dr. Shepard).


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Camellia japonica ‘Lemon Glow’

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Camellia japonica ‘Étoile’ and Camellia japonica ‘Drama Girl’


The main entrance to the Camellia House.