The plight of a Camellia hater.

We all know that as a general rule, nature is just about perfect. I tend to go along with the notion that the more I get to know about mankind the more I tend to look at the growing grass for salvation and nurture. I like nature and dislike wars and camellias. Oops…sorry, but camellias I did remove from my list of nature some years ago when I discovered to my horror the people who associate intimately with camellias.

I always had a feeling of unease when walking past heaps of brown rotting flowers littering the concrete footpaths along stretches of my first Australian taste of suburbs. I finally mustered up enough will, courage and asked what those flowers were. Camellias was the answer.

Many know that I often touch upon my personal blight of having lived in a suburb. It dates back to my teen years of isolation many decades ago after arrival from Holland. I narrowly escaped by moving into a room in the inner city area of Paddington. What a relief, finally understanding there was life after all. This all happened some years before the most fortuitous event of them all, even outdoing my escape from Australian suburb, meeting up in Europe with my future wife from Finland. Camellias have come, gone and rotted but we are still together all those years.

I hope I don’t tread on the toes of lovers of Australian suburbs nor on camellia fans. I understand that having a back yard for the kiddies is important. I fully understand and acknowledge that this is as ingrained in our national psyche as prawns on the barbeque with frozen peas. However, does that have to include growing camellias as well?

My dad used to shake his head in amazement when the neighbours’ camellias used to shed their flowers in our garden. It was good mulch. He also detested those flowers. So maybe my aversion is genetic based rather than just personal prejudice. It is all so complicated and one spends a lifetime trying to figure out other peoples foibles instead of trying to sort out own problems and silly idiosyncrasies.

Let me confess at least (before my time is up) to admitting my camellia phobia is illogical and very limiting in experiencing more joys than just relying on growing grass for sustenance. Perhaps a good psychiatrist or reading Emmanuel Kant might throw light on this camellia phobia of mine. He did say:
He who is cruel to camellias becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of camellias.

Who really cares?

They look so plastic. Those shiny leaves? I know of no other plant that so readily takes to looking artificial. In my suburb of before mentioned sad teen years, a neighbour higher up, belonged to a camellia society. He also was forever mowing his lawn with one of the first Victa’s lawnmower that used to never start except when he got close to going berserk in his backyard. He used branches of his beloved camellias to thrash his Victa lawnmower into submission. I used to watch his lawn mowing efforts through our venetian blinds. It is perhaps now easier to understand for you readers how low I had sunk in my spiritual suburb dehydration.

If there is one thing that I still have a burning ambition for, is; please never leave plastic flowers on my headstone nor any camellia, even within my very limited sight.
Thank you.

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18 Responses to “The plight of a Camellia hater.”

  1. solidgoldcreativity Says:

    Brace yourself, Gerard, I just went out and picked my second bunch of camellias because I decided one vase full of them was not enough. I even have some perfect specimens looking in my bedroom window which I say goodnight to.

    A Polish man bought a car from me when I lived at Bondi. He and his wife told me about their horror when they arrived and how they only revived slightly when they discovered Oxford Street.

    You are a laugh. And though I suspect you won’t believe me, I felt exactly the same way about growing up in a Sydney suburb and I wasn’t even born overseas!


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Mea culpa 😉 I meant to exclude those that grow camellias to put in vases. The more in vases the less on concrete footpaths! I am sure they look stunning in vases.
      It is just that our body corporate is also chaired by a camellia lover. It all dates back to childhood. I need lots of time and help. 🙂
      Camellias are just great, they are great.


  2. Lottie Nevin Says:

    Gerard how could you not like camellias? What about gladioli? Surely they deserve your wrath more? or pointsettia? I’m going to stop now as I fear that there may be many flowers that I realise I hate more than I’ve ever admitted to.

    How wonderful that you escaped the ‘burbs and found a life-time of happiness and love with Helvi. On the subject of love and marriage, I’m going to have have to come clean and confess that I wore cream camellias in my hair when I got married first time round. I’m sorry Gerard, but I felt it was something that you should know. Please don’t think any the less of me for it 😉


  3. gerard oosterman Says:

    Ah well Lottie, we all have our problems, mine are camellias. I forgive you.
    Gladioli I am a bit more comfortable with, at least they don’t litter footpaths.
    I only married once and we never wore any camellias. Perhaps that’s why we are still together. We are both united in our suspicion of camellias.
    How are the Spanish plans progressing?


  4. auntyuta Says:

    I have sympathy for you, Gerard, with what you say about life in the suburbs. – – – – But for sure you are entitled to be a Camellia hater. It’s not the same as being an animal hater. I think even Kant would have been able to forgive you for being a Camellia hater!


  5. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, we all have our likes and dislikes, especially in choices of the visual. I love nature to look a bit wild or unkempt. Camellias are such a delight in their natural environs with other plants but on their own in manicured gardens…yuk.


  6. berlioz1935 Says:

    When I read your blog I thought, “here goes a beautiful friendship”.
    I have to confess we have a Camellia. When she is in full blossom she is all over the place, just as you said.The flowers are big, fat and a beautiful dark red. But the flowers don’t drop onto the foot path and there is no manicured lawn anywhere to be seen on our block. And when I read in one of your replies, that you love nature wild and unkempt I let out a sigh of relief because our Camellia is standing in a corner of a wild meadow. Adding to the unkempt vista – no doubt.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I knew our friendship would stand the test of time and Camellias. Have you noticed that gardens are also very much a product of the latest fashion and what is in ‘vogue and popular’. Years ago I remember Pampas grass was everyone’s wish to include in gardens till it spread into weeds. The oleander has just about disappeared and even the azalea has lost some of its long held glory.
      Our garden is wild and beautiful, a joy to look at. Looking outside from our living/dining/kitchen area we see a wall of green, mainly due to some very tall bay trees that cover the fence and reach high into the sky. In front of the bay trees are a variety of Hebes, lots of Rosemary bushes with Geraniums and Cyclamens in between which do very well here.
      We never stop looking at it. Helvi is really the garden expert and gets almost everything growing. She could almost put a matchstick in the ground and it would grow into a pine tree or spruce. 🙂


  7. Andrew Says:

    I thought this was going to be about royalty and republicanism. I think a good garden should be full of butterflies, bees, dragonflies and birds and all their friends and relations. Any plant that encourages my preferred guests is fine by me. Do Camillas attract them?

    I think my next campaign will be to urge the world to love lichens. Would they be an acceptable alternative, Gerard? Not so good in a vase though.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Are there really Royals that are called Camellia? I vaguely remember someone called Cecilia or Virginia ( Virgin for short but not for long 🙂 ).Oh, now I know ,Camilla, wife of Charles. Ah well, we all have our problems. I love lichens especially after your expose (accent svp) on your blog.


  8. Patti Kuche Says:

    Poor, sad camellia bearing the brunt of your suburban antipathy, it was doomed!


  9. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Great post again that really made me laugh. You are laugh out loud funny. I’m not overly fond of excessively sweet smelling flowers such as the camelia and the magnolia. And the blossoms as you say are ugly once they drop and turn brown. I don’t live in the ‘Burbs” but I am fortunate to own an acre where my husband and I lived for 47 years. We had this property and then became surrounded by wealthy homes. My house is an old redone farmhouse. I keep a natural yard that attracts lots of birds and butterflies. Just did a recent post of quite a few species of butterflies all photographed in my yard. I grow hardy mostly native plants and not delicate and what’s in vogue plants.




    • gerard oosterman Says:

      A few years ago we still lived on a farm with over 100 acres of which 40 acres were native bushland. Yearly I used to go in there with my tractor and harvest all the dead wood for firewood. We planted hundreds of trees, mainly poplar and pine. It was a magnificent property with a very old original settlers cottage dating to the mid 1850’s. The farmhouse itself was very large with two fireplaces and slow combustion cooker.
      It was a lot of work maintaining it all with fences, dams and above all the weeds that threatened to overtake all. We loved it and I feel that your old redone farmhouse must have similar appeal.
      Ah, birds and butterflies. I’ll have a look at your blog right now.


      • petspeopleandlife Says:

        Gerardyou must write a post about the farm and the old house. Sounds right up my alle. No,my old home does not have that kind of appeal nor the history. I think it was buillt in about 1948 or so. It is nothing to get excited about but it is roomy and I am comfortable here. 🙂


  10. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Don’t hate me Gerard. We have a ton of camellia bushes in our garden! And yes, they have a tendency to drop their flowers when they are through with them. And yes, I HATE to clean them up—but I do. Every day during their death period. But they don’t need pruning , spraying, take very little fertilizer, and except for an equal ton of rose bushes, which DO require all that stuff, it’s mostly what I have in my yard. But I’m really a nice person, in spite of it.
    This is a another funny post, Gerard and I’m not a fan of the burbs either, so we have something more in common.


  11. gerard oosterman Says:

    Oh dear ‘tons of Camellias’, Yes, the conundrum of so many lovely people and yet, and yet, Camellias! You can now see the troubling state I am in. It will need years of counselling.
    I’ll give Mr W. Allen a tingle to find out how he is coping in NY. I believe he disliked the outdoors with picnicking, crawling ants and would do anything to avoid the country-side. I am not sure of his relationship with Camellias.
    There is still hope. Let’s work together sharing our burbs antipathy. 🙂


  12. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    I feel the same about laurels – great dull evergreen leaves that surrounded most of my boarding schools, they didn’t even (in my memory) have the virtue of flowers. Camellias though… in the right place i.e. in a shrubbery where their flowers can drop without becoming an eyesore provide good-looking foliage in winter, flowers in the darker days (especially the single whites) and I love the very slowness of the fattening buds – so much promise for a gardener. Sorry, but only have two at the moment so I will hope to be forgiven.


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