There are only two surviving blooms of the rare camellia; one is in Waitangi, New Zealand, and the other one is in Chiswick House in London.
It is thought that Middlemist’s Red has been present in Chiswick conservatory since the early 19th century. The plant is believed to have come from China, brought to Britain by John Middlemist of Shepherd’s Bush.
The camellia is thought to have arrived in the UK just after 1823 – only a decade after the conservatory first opened in 1813. The conservatory has stood, but slowly run down, over the centuries. At one point the home actually served as a lunatic asylum. The conservatory was hit by an unexploded bomb during World War II; it survived but all the glass was broken.
The current restoration of the conservatory was cost more than £12 million and was co-managed between Chiswick House and Gardens Trust and the English Heritage.
In Pure Spirit
Are you pleased to see such a rare planet safe and sound in a newly restored, historic conservatory? Or is £12m too much for projects such as this?