Chiswick House Camellia Show
2018 Camellia Show – Thursday 22 February – Sunday 25 March, open from 10.00am – 4.00pm each day except for Fridays
In early Spring, the Camellia Show at Chiswick House brings a burst of colour to the 65 acre park which has been voted ‘People’s Choice’ in the London In Bloom awards. Entry to this magnificent display of red, white and pink Camellia blooms in the Conservatory is free. There are 33 varieties housed in the 300 ft glass house, including the Middlemist’s Red, one of the rarest Camellias in the world. Many of the plants have been growing for over 200 years in the Grade I listed Conservatory. The collection is thought to be the oldest under glass in the Western world and includes several rare and historically important examples, many believed to be descended from the original planting in 1828. Imported from Japan, they were introduced by the Duke of Devonshire so he could offer the rare and expensive flowers to the ladies who came to his extravagant parties. The future of these ‘heritage’ camellias has been secured by an on-site propagation programme run by the gardeners in the recently restored Melon House and visitors to the show have the opportunity to buy a choice of heritage varieties from Chiswick’s original collection.
The Conservatory itself has an interesting history. Designed by the architect Samuel Ware (who later designed the Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly) and completed in 1813, it was one of the earliest large glass houses to be built; a forerunner of Decimus Burton’s glass house at Kew and Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace. It gained a new notoriety when 50 years ago the Beatles recorded the first music video there, for their single Paperback Writer. The Conservatory in the gardens of Chiswick House, W4 2QN. Visitors are invited to make a day of it, enjoy the whole Grade 1 listed estate, stop off for refreshments at Chiswick House Café and visit the 18th century Villa at weekends.
We talked to Head Gardener Geraldine King in 2015 about the annual show.