From the purest whites to the deepest reds, the colours in winter are far from the grey shades
The camellia gives colour to the gardens while neighbouring plants seem to sleep
Introduced after the 16th century from the East, now the province has singular specimens of camellia. Some of them are significantly relevant. All of them, however, are of a great historic, botanic and tourist value. Moreover, they have the privilege to grow in palatial gardens, where we propose an evocative walk. Do you know a curious fact? The camellia even says goodbye with personality: it falls entire, with all its petals.
While the grey shades take up the space that winter has kept for them, a colourful scene attracts our attention. "As well as Japanese, this flower is also Galician", said the Galician writer Álvaro Cunqueiro. "It came from India, China and Japan, but it felt at home among us and she became the flower of Galicia", pointed out Cela, a Galician writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Due to its round shape and the perfect geometry that some varieties have, this flower became the hallmark of a brand which is synonymous with elegance, the one inspired by the designer Coco Chanel. What's its name? It's camellia. There are more than 30,000 camellia varieties, with different sizes, shapes, colours, petals or leaves.
It was probably introduced in the West from the 16th to the 17th century. The owners of the noble manors were the first to enjoy scent of the camellias that nowadays can be seen in public and private gardens in the province. This past, when beauty was closely linked to palaces and noble manors, can be enjoyed in Pontevedra in a route through places strongly linked to the camellia culture.
With more than 200 registered species nowadays, the first camellia plantation documented in Europe dates back to 1739. It took place in the Essex gardens, in England. Most old camellias that can be seen nowadays were introduced in the second half of the 19th century. In fact, the provincial government of Pontevedra owns a collection of more than one thousand camellias from different species and varieties, of which Camellia japonica, Camellia reticulata and Camellia sasanqua stand out.
The Camellia japonica has the honour to be the most widely cultivated species in the West, and its petals range from the purest whites to the deepest reds. Other widely cultivated species are Camellia reticulata, characterized by its large flowers and a slow growth, and Camellia sasanqua, which is fragrant.
Camellia has its own personality even in its final steps: some flowers fall from the branch that has given them shelter with all their petals, as whole flowers; others fall in hundreds of colourful petals; that once on the ground, form amazing petal carpets.
Before the camellia season comes to an end, As Rías Baixas and the province of Pontevedra offer you the possibility to enjoy the camellia in a series of exhibits devoted to this flower that are held from December to April. They are organized by the Spanish Camellia Society, in collaboration with other entities, among them the Provincial Government of Pontevedra, and are held in Tui, Domaio, Vilanova de Arousa, O Porriño, Tomiño, Soutomaior, Vilagarcía de Arousa, Cuntis, Campolongo, Ribadumia, Valga, Ponteareas or Sanxenxo.