Camellia Collection


Chiswick’s rare camellias are one of the oldest collections under glass in Europe. Brought by ship from China, where they have been cultivated for thousands of years, they were a luxury commodity and a symbol of status. At the time of the 6th Duke people thought they needed to be housed under glass. We now know that they thrive in the outdoors. Queen Mary, wife of King George V, was a great admirer of camellias at Chiswick and visited regularly to see them.

Image: Camellia japonica ‘Parksii’ in the Conservatory. Photo by John Fielding

These extraordinary plants were in danger of being lost as the Conservatory fell into ruin in the late 20th century. Three local members of the International Camellia Society stepped in to look after them and saved the historic camellias. Today, our collection comprises 33 different varieties, including examples of many of the earliest varieties introduced to Britain – we believe some of our plants date back to the 6th Duke’s 1828 collection.

Don’t miss out on our annual Camellia Festival in February and March – a month of online and activities in our gardens to celebrate our historic Camellias.

Safeguarding our collection

Cuttings of the camellias are being propagated at a nursery in Cornwall to ensure we have duplicates of the collection in safe keeping. In time we hope to replicate the historic varieties in the Gardens so they can be enjoyed outside and to extend their flowering season.