Gardens at Eden


Beautiful blooming ornamental gardens are the main attraction for many of the winter and spring months at Eden Gardens State Park. With a heritage rose garden, butterfly garden maintained by the local Master Gardeners, and secret garden winding its way through the grounds, one doesn’t have to look far to see beauty abound throughout the park.

Camellias and azaleas are the showstoppers in this ornamental display, with over 250 camellias throughout the park and our very own cultivar, camellia japonica “Virgie’s Eden,” registered with the American Camellia Society in 2014. The ornamental gardens were originally drawn up by Greene-Hill Planners for the park’s benefactress, Lois Maxon. While camellias have been known in East Asia for centuries, the first species to enter the United States were imported camellia japonica plants from England in the late 1790s. In America, camellia interest waned after the Civil War but took on new life after the turn of the century with the popularity of camellia shows in the 1930s and formation of the American Camellia Society in 1945.

Mid-season flowering varieties that bloom from the first of January until the end of February tend to be best suited to our region’s warmer conditions. Camellias perform best in partially shaded locations enhanced by good water drainage and air movement. Many varieties of camellias will withstand temperatures lower than freezing for a short period of time without plant damage, but open flowers would need protection by other trees, etc. Flower buds that have not yet opened can withstand temperatures well below freezing without damage and open once temperatures have risen again.

Another interesting fact about camellias concerns their propagation through air layering. Air layering is based upon the centuries-old process developed by the Chinese of layering (rooting) plants by placing sections of branches that are still attached to the plant in the ground and covering them with earth, having first removed or roughed the bark on the underside. Air layering is a simple process similar to layering that can be completed in one season. The rooting medium is in the air rather than in the ground.

Make a point to venture through our camellia gardens in the winter or early spring and take in their beauty.