Camellias plants have a long and fascinating history in China and Japan. The origin of camellias in Europe can be traced back to the tea trade of the 17th and 18th centuries, with Camellia sinensis, the main plant used to produce tea.
In the 19th Century, varieties of Camellia japonica began to be grown for their horticultural potential, mostly in the glasshouses of the wealthy aristocrats.
A plant of Camellia reticulata was introduced to the UK by Captain Rawes in 1820 and Camellia sasanqua arrived in 1811, the introduction of autumn flowering camellias to Europe.
During the 1930s, intense hybridisation of camellias occurred, particularly by John Charles Williams, of Caerhays Castle in Cornwall. His williamsii hybrids are crosses of C. japonica and C.saluenensis, saw the introduction of more varieties which could be grown outside and flower freely in shady gardens in the UK.
Trehane Nursery has been at the forefront of camellias in the UK since the 1950s, introducing and trialling (now) famous varieties such as Jury's Yellow, Debbie and many more.