wings and things

Love story 90 – My camellia tree

on August 28, 2012

I think we have over 20 camellia trees here – it is too rainy for me to go out and count them so it’s on my long list of ‘things to do’. Anthony planted most of them when he and his mother and brother first came here (he was 21 I think so it was before I was born and that’s why I don’t necessarily know all the details).

After we got married, he started planting more – I’m not quite sure why and, not being the least bit interested in gardening, I didn’t take much notice. But one day, on one of his rare days off from milking the cows, Anthony coaxed me to hop in the ute and drive one hour north to a camellia nursery called Heavenly Gardens. Booooooring, I thought, as I strapped little toddler Ming into his car seat, but I resigned myself.

When we got there, we were greeted by the owner, an ancient looking woman, almost bent double with a back condition, like an upside down L. She and one of the men who worked there, showed us through forests of camellias while I tried to allay my own boredom by allaying Ming’s. Then, all of a sudden, I saw it, a tree in full flower, each one like a ballerina. It was nothing like any of the camellias we had at home; it was much more beautiful and it was really unusual. My interest sparked, I inquired about it but the elderly woman said it was the only one she had, it was very rare and it was definitely not for sale. Her off-sider pointed out to me that it was planted in the ground and well established so there was no way she would sell it to me.

It came time for morning tea and the elderly woman and her off-sider welcomed us into a shed to share tea and cake and we sat down together while Ming vroomed around the shed with a pretend car. I said to the elderly woman that I was not a gardener but I really loved the tree and, with a twinkle in her eye, she told me that the boys would have to dig it out of the ground, and that she really didn’t want to sell it. “I wouldn’t take anything less than $350,” she murmured, looking into the distance nonchalantly.

“It’s a deal!” I exclaimed. Anthony, who was sitting next to me, had overheard this little exchange and pinched me on the bum, whispering, “Are you crazy? It’s only worth $50 at most. Nobody pays $350 for a camellia.”

But already, the elderly woman had somehow signalled her troops and three men, including her off-sider (who later told us he was a nephew), were walking away from the shed with shovels in their hands. My heart did a grin flip! I pulled my money out of my back pocket and gave it to the elderly woman who smiled softly at me. Anthony sighed and hurried down to fetch the ute. Then he helped the men load the tree on and I shook hands with nephew who told us to drive out and around the side of the nursery. He had a mysterious expression on his face.

Well, we drove around and he loaded three more potted camellias onto the ute. They weren’t the same as my tree but they were still lovely. The nephew said, “The old girl really ripped you off, so this is to make up for it. She won’t know.”

Not long after, we heard that the elderly woman had died and that Heavenly Gardens had closed down. By this time Anthony had planted my tree for me and look at it now – 16 years later!

I am going to pick some now and take them into Anthony at the nursing lodge.

52 responses to “Love story 90 – My camellia tree

  1. Louise G. says:

    Oh Julie. What a beautiful story. Thank you

  2. I love camellias, but so do the deer, unfortunately.

    • jmgoyder says:

      Your deer sound like our rabbits but luckily rabbits aren’t tall!

      • Until I got a deer fence (a high one) it was hopeless to try to grow anything. We have rabbits too, but there’s nothing we can do about them. Luckily we have hungry owls who keep the population in check at least somewhat. But the owls missed two rabbits last winter and that’s (apparently) all it takes.

      • jmgoyder says:

        We don’t seem to have owls. Also I am not sure why the foxes don’t kill the rabbits instead of going after my birds!

  3. terry1954 says:

    those are the most gorgeous flowers. i love the name of them and the love that came with the planting of them. you are hopefully going to place a smile on Ants face when he sees you carrying them in. hugs Julie!

  4. victoriaaphotography says:

    Absolutely beautiful and a wonderful story at that.

  5. Barb says:

    Wow, Julie. This is beautiful. Camellia season is so short here. It happens in the spring which is raining like a monsoon and the flowers crinkle up like old yellow rags. Thanks for sharing. Now if I could only sniff them.

  6. bulldogsturf says:

    Man now that story pulls at my heart strings… Ant would be delighted with a bunch of those flowers… they will have such memories for him as they have for you… and looking at the tree… I think it had your and Ants name on it from the beginning… Love the story and the photos… Hugs ..

  7. tootlepedal says:

    Lovely story, lovely flowers.

  8. A beautiful story and a beautiful tree!

  9. sometimes it just does not matter how much something costs – I love that they gave you more because the old lady ripped you off. another charming story – thanks

  10. Animalcouriers says:

    Sweet – you do have a lovely way of getting what you want. There must be 100s of stories to tell Anthony that will get a smile!

  11. niasunset says:

    This is so beautiful story… and so beautiful photographs… I love this tree too. I am sure Anthony will be so happy to see them. Thank you dear Julie, love, nia

  12. Judith Post says:

    What a fun story and a wonderful memory! The camellias are breath-taking!

  13. viveka says:

    Never seen anything so strong and beautiful – camellias are so beautiful – what a fantastic tree of bush or what ever. Julie, it’s all because it was bough with not only money … also with loads of love. That photo with the raindrops are so stunning – second from the top. If that was me I would blow it up and frame it …. because that is a picture of love – yours and Al’s

  14. Robyn Lee says:

    Wow – what a story — and LOOK at those magnificent flowers!! They are out of this world beautiful. Sort of makes me hopeful about the sentiments I expressed in my today. I know Ants planted that tree with love & look What a harvest this was! Great shots Julie ~ xo

    • jmgoyder says:

      I wish I had your photographic abilities – none of my pics look as good as the real tree!

      • Robyn Lee says:

        Thanks Julie – but I’m totally winging it. Never took photos (except for family shots) in my life before this past winter! Your Camellia tree looks gorgeous!!! ~ MRI day — so off and running! Sending you LOVE!xxoo

  15. dcwisdom says:

    Who can put a price on love? You fell in love with Anthony’s fetish, and that made him happy in spite of the deal you made with the old woman. Much like my husband’s love of Dynamite crepe myrtles. He plants six new ones every year which I purchase. However, I only pay about $6 for each. I like camellias, too, but don’t have any. Think I’ll plant one next spring in your honor. 🙂

  16. Colline says:

    The flowers – and tree – are really beautiful. As is the memory that goes with it.

  17. janechese says:

    I first saw these flowers in a silk flower store, and thought they were lovely. Like the close-up of the second with the water drops.It is a very abundant tree.i have some things for sale, i will give you a good price-eh eh.:)

  18. Fergiemoto says:

    A lovely story! Those flowers are beautiful and delightful!

  19. Beautiful flowering bushes, and I love the fact that you are going to add counting them to your list! Margie

  20. I think it was worth every cent – and more!

  21. ltpen315 says:


  22. diannegray says:

    What a fantastic story 😀 I love that the boys gave you the extra trees!

  23. What a funny story! At least you ended up with a beautiful tree.

  24. Money well spent. You can’t put a price on that kind of pleasure.

  25. I love camellias, but that is an outstandingly beautiful camellia tree. Worth every penny. Love how Anthony pinched your bum to quietly disagree.

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