Camellia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. They are found in eastern and southern Asia, from the Himalayas east to Japan and Indonesia. There are 100–250 described species, with some controversy over the exact number. The genus was named by Linnaeus after the Jesuit botanist Georg Joseph Kamel, who worked in the Philippines, though he never described a camellia.
This genus is famous throughout East Asia; camellias are known as cháhuā (茶花) in Chinese, "tea flower", an apt designation, as tsubaki (椿) in Japanese, as dongbaek-kkot (동백꽃) in Korean and as hoa trà or hoa chè in Vietnamese. Of economic importance in the Indian subcontinent and Asia, leaves of C. sinensis are processed to create the popular beverage, tea. The ornamental Camellia japonica, Camellia oleifera and Camellia sasanqua and their hybrids are represented in cultivation by a large number of cultivars.
The flower below is the Camellia japonica 'Margaret Davis' variety, Australian Registration No.54. It has received the “William Hertrich Award”, 1969; the “Sewell Mutant Award”, 1976 and the “William E. Woodroof, Hall of Fame Award”, 1979. Chinese synonym: ‘Kuancaidai’.
Margaret Davis was born Margaret E G Reardon in 1908, her birth registered at Katoomba, New South Wales. She married Arthur Davis in 1929 at Vaucluse. She was the second woman to hold a pilot’s licence in Australia (Nancy Bird Walton was the first and she also had a camellia named after her!)
Margaret Davis wrote several gardening books – 'Living Flower Arrangements' in 1971; 'Gardening in Pots' 1973, and 'Balcony, Terrace and Patio Gardens' in 1997. The movement that eventually became The Garden Club of Australia Inc. was founded at a meeting called by Margaret Davis at Red Cross House Sydney. Most of the thirty or so people who attended this meeting had worked together for the previous six years organising a Sydney version of the Chelsea Flower Show to raise funds for the Red Cross.
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