My daddy loved his camellias. He loved them so much that he built greenhouses to protect his babies from the cold. When I was growing up, I just kind of figured this was what all camellia growers did, and back then, it was not that unusal. Most of my dad’s camellia growing friends in Savannah had greenhouses. I could probably think of at least 25 camellia growers that had greenhouses to protect there camellias back when I was a kid.
Daddy was a real perfectionist about how he built his greenhouses and how he covered them with poly plastic. Everything about his houses were absolutely perfect. He had fuel oil heaters in each house that he would light on extremely cold nights. Daddy’s objective was to keep them cool, but he did not want the flowers to freeze. He built vents on each end, and he had windows on each side, so he could let out excessive heat on warm days.
I can still see him looking at his prized blooms and pinning them up with colored clothes pins. He probably looked at every flower in the greenhouse at least 100 times every day. It always put a smile on his face looking those beautiful camellias, and it makes me smile today remembering those greenhouses from long ago!
Gene Phillips is one of the owners of Gene’s Nursery in Savannah, Ga. He is a 2nd generation grower and attributes his love of Camellias to his father, who inspired him to breath in the beauty that they bring to him but more importantly to others. In his ‘free’ time, you’ll find him wandering through old gardens, trying to identify flowers or taking countless number of photos to share with others! He also enjoys meeting people and comparing ‘garden’ stories.