The Camellias are having a spring of it this year. Rain has fallen, but it has been warm, flicking the water off the petals before they begin to brown. They're past their absolute best now, but I still keep seeing their booty bundles dribbling over garden walls:
Camellias are officially the most decadent plant. More decadent than orchids (too obvious) roses (too pretty) or lilies (too funereal). They exist in a balance of beauty and rot, almost always blown brown by their impending death, even before the buds open.
I was not going to a get any Camellias. But then I found one, February half term, already in flower, in a pot at the Eden Project. And in the way of these things, another came to me - a deep red, profundo rosso, from a sale shelf at the local Garden Centre. At the moment they're sitting in small pots, but the aim will be two large plants, er. somewhere. Against a wall, flanking a door, something like that.
La Dame aux Camellias is the source text for Moulin Rouge, and as such deals with the diseased, desirable and damned. As the story goes, Camille (actually called, Marguerite, but the Dame of the title) wears a white camellia when she is able to love; and a red camellia when her condition (Tuberculosis, you at the back there) forbids it. These two images from Mucha and Beardsley demonstrate the difference between the ecstasy of availability and the misery of confinement:
Neither of my Camellias are white; the other, first flower is the pretty pink of cherry blossom blowing in the spring wind. It's already looking sickly, while the other is in rude health, but of course, not flowering.