Friday, March 5, 2010

World's Rarest Plant Blooms in the UK

All photos courtesy: BBC News

Camellias, one of my favourite flowers - fragrant, beautiful, totally bewitching in my mind. There is an extremely endangered variety of camellia named Middlemist's Red. It is so rare there are only two known shrub locations: a greenhouse in the UK and a garden in New Zealand. In 1804, the previously-unknown camellia was imported to Britain by John Middlemist from its native China. These were the days when rare flowers were a valued cargo to be imported and sold to the affluent.

Meanwhile, Middlemist's Red became extinct in its original homeland of China; and, many of the imported plants disappeared or died.

The flower is in bloom for the next week or so, and will be the star attraction at the reopening of the Chiswick House, the BBC reports.

That the Middlemist's Red survives today is a conservation success story. "It's the importance of getting as many people as possible to ensure they stay with us on this Earth," Fiona Crumley, the head gardener at the Chiswick House told the BBC.

Even though there are only known locations of Middlemist's Red, it's widely believed (and fervently hoped) that there are still some shrubs living out quiet, unassuming lives in gardens all over the UK; and, perhaps beyond.

Hard to believe that these shrubs were once widely sold to the public.

If you think you may have a Middlemist's Red in your garden, I'm sure the Chiswick House would love to hear from you. Click here to go to their "contact us" page.

Via TreeHugger and BBC Today

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