March 9, 2010
Camellias. These beautiful flowers have unfortunately become associated with death. Most famously of course by Alexandre Dumas Jr., French playwright and novelist, illegitimate son of Alexandre Sr., whose novel La Dame aux Camélias brought him great fame in 1848. He subsequently turned it into a play which no one wanted to produce and it didn’t have its stage debut until 1852. Of course it has been made into about 20 different stage versions and about as many films with Sarah Bernhardt and Greta Garbo, among many others, playing the title role. I saw a production back in the late ’70 at the Vancouver Playhouse which was sensational.
The symbolic meaning of camellia flowers is admiration, perfection, loveliness, a good luck gift for a man, gratitude, nobility of reasoning or longing. All this depending on the colour. Ours are red symbolizing ‘you are a flame in my heart’. So the association with death is really unfortunate. It is also possible that the association is only in my mind and not generally accepted. This would hardly be surprising.
This beautiful bush is on the east side of the house. It gets quite a bit of competition from the cedar hedge that is about 10 feet high on that side. Nevertheless, it blooms faithfully each year. When we were in Burnaby, we had huge camellia bushes on either side of the front door. As much as I dislike saying it, they were a problem at all times of the year except when they were blooming. They were so big they had become a real nuisance. But when they flowered they were spectacular. But then the petals fall they sure made a mess. This one I love because it can make all the mess it wants and there is no problem. All we have to do is enjoy the luscious flowers and the sensuous colour.