Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Camellias

After the trees turned brilliant gold and red this autumn 
and some early Christmas lights began to sparkle,
a number of local camellia shrubs burst into full flower as if it were spring.
One tall camellia had grown above a hedge that is along my route.
That shrub was covered in the most cheerful, soft pink blossoms,
but they seemed completely out of place 
against late November's red autumn leaves. 

I know there are some "Christmas camellias," 
hybridized to bloom in winter, 
but I don't think the ones I've been seeing are those varieties.
 I never noticed this phenomenon around the Shire before.
But then my pink camellias are finicky, only blooming in February.
Yet, seeing all the white and red camellias blossoming now,
I can't help but wish I had a camellia shrub with white or red blossoms 
to clip and bring inside for Christmas arrangements.

I don't buy a cut evergreen tree for Christmas--
one season of daily watering a Scotch pine and picking up its dropped needles 
was enough to cure me of that tradition.
But I do love fresh flowers in the house any time of year--especially Christmas.

I especially like the poinsettias that come in shades from ivory to red.
In years past, I have decorated for Christmas with many different color palettes.
In one house we lived in, the living room walls were raspberry,
so my tree ornaments were pink and green; my poinsettias were pink too.
Other years, in other places, I favored purples.
Other times, all blue. Some years, all colors. 
And sometimes, gold, silver, copper, and bronze.
And the variety of poinsettia colors have served my decorating schemes well,
but the plants themselves lack versatility.

That's why the early bloom of camellias
have made me imagine them for Christmas instead.
White ones would be beautiful with silver or gold.
Red ones with their dark green leaves would be great for a traditional look.

I don't know if these winter camellias are blooming early or right on time,
or if any will end up in my house this season,
but they are a lovely, early Christmas gift from nature,
whether viewed from indoors or out.

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