'A gardener's paradise' - Visiting the Camellia House at Planting Fields in Oyster Bay

The subtropical plants have gorgeous evergreen leaves, but the complex flowers that open during the coldest months of the year are what generations of gardeners fall head over heels for.

Alex Calamia

Feb 18, 2023, 1:27 PM

Updated 429 days ago

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It's the middle of winter, but a paradise of color awaits visitors who enter the Camellia House at Planting Fields in Oyster Bay.
The subtropical plants have gorgeous evergreen leaves, but the complex flowers that open during the coldest months of the year are what generations of gardeners fall head over heels for.
The Camellia House at Planting Fields was built in 1917 as a place for W.R Coe's tender camellia collection to grow. It was shipped over from England and Long Island winters were too harsh for the plants to survive. Some of the camellias in the greenhouse have been there since the beginning, but the collection continues to grow and expand to this day.
In recent years, milder weather and newly bred camellia varieties make it possible to grow these special plants in our garden on Long Island. Camellia plants have similar requirements to acidic and shade loving plants, like azalea and rhododendron – but camellias are more cold sensitive.  
The winter of 2022-2023 has been milder so far than any other winter in history, but it's not over yet. Planting Field Foundation's Historic Landscape Horticulturist, Donna Moramarco cautions gardeners not to be too eager to plant for spring. Late winter and early spring cold snaps are common on Long Island and it's advisable to let the landscape sleep until milder weather consistently arrives. 
In the meantime, visitors can enjoy the Camellia House and the other gardens at Planting Fields all week long. The Camellia House is closed on Tuesdays.
The best time of the year to view the camellias in the glasshouse is December through March; however, you can find outdoor camellias growing around the expansive estate among other plants. These camellias bloom survive Long Island winters and bloom in the spring. It's a surprising pop of color in shady spots around the garden.


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