Early Camellias in Louisiana

1825-1860: Long-Lost Treasures Rediscovered

Authors: F. Wayne Stromeyer and Trenton L. James

Photographer: John L. DiLeo

Early Camillias in Louisiana Book

2022, 153 pages



Today, most of Louisiana's camellia gardens feature plants of recent vintage that are sourced from 20th and 21st century nurseries. Only a few scattered "ancients" such as 'Alba Plena' have been generally recognized in these modern gardens. Marketed by European and northeastern American nurseries, camellias once enjoyed enormous popularity, though information about varieties brought to Louisiana between 1825 and 1860 has been scarce. While collecting early plants for the gardens of their historic homes, the authors of Early Camellias in Louisiana uncovered archival documents that inspired them to study surviving plants in old gardens of of Louisiana.

Their research unexpectedly yielded thirty historic camellias growing in the field and nearly double that amount documented in letters, advertisements, and catalogs of the time. Some of the plants identified are lost treasures about which there has been minimal study. In this book, extensive photography provides the reader with detailed pictures. For some blossoms, multiple images show their stages of development, illustrating a fascinating evolution of shapes and colors. Lists and charts are helpful for those seeking plants or guidance about their garden collections. Information is provided about antique cultivars that are presently available commercially and about the authors' efforts to propagate rare specimens.

Enjoyed far beyond the Gulf South, old varieties of camellias continue to captivate gardeners with their spellbinding beauty. The splendor and vitality of these flowers, as well as their extraordinary history, make a compelling case for their preservation and inclusion in contemporary gardens. Early Camellias in Louisiana serves as a guide for the rediscovery and identification of these prized blooms.


"The Authors have compiled and documented an extraordinary volume on Louisiana's Queens of Winter. Our Camellia community will delight in rediscovering old timers, some thought lost forever, through the book's exceptional photography and creative design. It was a pleasure to travel with the authors as they traversed the state in search of hidden treasures. The amount of research required to produce this beautiful work is remarkable. Early Camellias in Louisiana truly is a labor of love. "

James Greene Campbell III
Past President of the American Camellia Society

"Doctors Stromeyer and James join a distinguished group dedicated to the advancement of botanical and horticultural history. They have confirmed that in Louisiana there are indeed survivors of these earliest garden sentinels, and that the chronicling of their existence is well worth the pursuit."

Suzanne Turner
Author and Professor Emerita of Landscape Architecture Louisiana State University.
The contributor at their initial design meeting.
The contributors at their initial design meeting:
John L. DiLeo, F. Wayne Stromeyer, Chanler Holden Mittendorf and Trenton L. James.