Camellias, An Exhibit at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC Phelps Collection, Irvin Department of Rare and Special Books
The camellia is the subject of an online exhibit at the University of South Carolina, Phelps Memorial Collection of Garden Books. Mrs. Sheffield Phelps and her daughter, Claudia Lea, (1930s-1950s) the donors of the Library’s collection of garden books, were past presidents of the Garden Club of South Carolina and their garden, Rose Hill, in Aiken was well-known for its trees, shrubs and camellias.
The origin of the name, camellia, can be traced to Georg Joseph Camel, a German Jesuit missionary and pioneer botanist in the Far East (1661-1706). Another German, Andreas Cleper brought back dried camellia specimens from Japan in the 1680s. He named the plant, Thea chinensis. The German botanical artist, Ehret used the Japanese name for the camellia plant, tsabekki. The second colored plate shown here of the camellia ( images are from the Phelps Collection) was painted by George Edwards and is called, the “Chinese Rose” in Lord Petre Stoves at Thorndon Hall in Essex garden. Edwards said, “I drew from nature, this beautiful flaming tree.”
This article was extracted from the text of Patrick Scott, Associate University Librarian for Special Collections.