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Friday, 22 January 2016
FREE CAMELLIA SHOW BRINGS BURST OF COLOUR TO CHISWICK HOUSE GARDENS
Chiswick House and Gardens Trust will be holding their popular annual Camellia Show from Thursday 11th February – Sunday 13th March 2016.
The Show, now in its 6th year, celebrates these beautiful blooms within the elegant Chiswick House Conservatory, a 300ft glasshouse designed by Samuel Ware in 1813 for the 6th Duke of Devonshire.
The Chiswick House Camellia collection is a national treasure and believed to be the oldest collection under glass in the Western world. It includes rare and historically important examples of these beautiful plants, with a gorgeous array of blooms; pink, red, white and striped. Many of these are descended from the original planting in 1828. Among them is the unique Middlemist’s Red, originally brought to Britain from China in 1804 by Londoner John Middlemist, a nurseryman from Shepherds Bush. It is one of only two in the world known to exist – the other being on the other side of the globe in Waitangi in New Zealand.
For the second year running the show remains free to the public. Chiswick House and Garden’s Trust Director, Clare O’Brien, says “We made admission free to the show last year as we wanted as many people as possible to come and enjoy the unique collection of Camellias and learn about their fascinating history. It was a resounding success with over 16,000 visitors – a record attendance, and over four times bigger than previous years. We were delighted that so many people recognised the importance of our work and gave a voluntary donation towards us keeping high standards of maintenance in the Grade I listed park. Chiswick House and Gardens are enjoyed by many thousands of people, not to mention their dogs, all year for free.”
The Chiswick House Camellia Collection had been in danger of being lost as the Conservatory fell into ruin in the last years of the 20th century, but members of the International Camellia Society stepped in to tend them, ensuring their survival prior to the major restoration of Chiswick House Gardens, completed in June 2010. Over the last eight years the Trust has initiated a propagation programme to ensure the future of these rare specimens and keen gardeners have a fantastic opportunity to purchase a choice of heritage varieties from the original collection at a pop up shop at the show.
Last year the shop sold 250 plants propagated from 16 heritage varieties in the rare Chiswick House Camellia collection to ensure the plants’ future. This year there will be another chance to buy Chiswick House’s heritage varieties and some specially selected spring flowers. The pop up shop will also be selling Camellia cards and other Camellia inspired merchandise. And the award winning Chiswick House Café will be serving a delicious seasonal menu.
The Chiswick House and Gardens Trust will be organising specially devised schools workshops during the show that will track the fascinating journey of the Camellias from China to Chiswick.
Last year the show attracted visitors from all over the UK, Japan, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Ukraine, Sweden, USA, Norway, France, China, and New Zealand. And local residents were thrilled to be given the opportunity to visit more often.
Here is a sample of some of the glowing responses:
“Really stunning display – please keep up this great work. Tusen Takk!” (means many thanks) A couple from Norway.
“Thank you for a fantastic display and care of plants, we have seen a fantastic improvement over the 30 years I’ve lived here” Chiswick resident.
“A very interesting display and a captivating history” A Chelsea Physic Garden volunteer.
“C’est magnifique.” Visitor from France.
“God’s Masterpiece” Chiswick Resident.
The Chiswick House Camellia Show 2016
Chiswick House, London, W4 2QN
Dates: 11th February to 13th March, 2016
Conservatory opening hours: Daily 10am – 4pm (Closed Mondays)
Chiswick House: Special Camellia Show weekend openings Saturday and Sunday 10am – 4pm
Group bookings, guided tours and information on admission prices for Chiswick House: www.chgt.org.uk