I spent New Year's Eve afternoon once again wandering a camellia garden with my friend Skip. He was doing well (let's face it - beyond well - he never ceases to amaze me), and as always, I saw camellias in bloom that I hadn't seen before.
While his son was preparing a lunch for us, we headed toward Skip's main camellia garden. We had a warm New Year's weekend in South Carolina - upper 60s to low 70s - can't complain about that! The camellias looked good, although because of the unusually warm fall (coastal South Carolina hasn't had a hard frost yet, much less a hard freeze, as of New Year's weekend) I think that some different-than-normal camellias were in bloom. But then, each time I visit I see a camellia that I haven't seen, and I learn something new.
Roosevelt Blues... aka 'Frankie Bray'. Skip told me that this cultivar was named by a person who thought the camellia was unattractive, and so he named it after President Roosevelt because he was unhappy about the New Deal. So in essence, he named a camellia he didn't like after a President he didn't like. I believe that Skip said it was Robert Rubel who named it - a name known by most camellia folks. Interestingly, according to Architecture Research, many of Rubel's camellias ended up somewhere in South Carolina (and I'm guessing Middleton Place or Magnolia Gardens - I'll have to look into this):
Between 1931 and 1932, Rubel sold thirteen carloads of collected specimens to one South Carolina customer, a transaction that he believed to be the largest sale of camellias since their introduction to Europe in the early eighteenth century. The meticulous plantsman sold his camellias with embossed copper labels attached to each plant, so that the tag could serve as a permanent means of correct identification.
[The image that I took of it (above) doesn't look quite as blue as it does 'in person', but you can still see hints of blue - it was quite beautiful, and not unattractive at all - but then I would have probably voted for Roosevelt.]