Thursday, March 10, 2011

Regrets of White Camellias

Regrets of White Camellias is Cybill Shepard's 2011 movie soon to be released.

I can't imagine the story, but here's a bit from the Language of Flowers: Camellia's Regrets.

“’Madam,’ said I to her, ‘you are like that flower called the camellia, which a Jesuit has lately brought hither from China. It is delightful to the eye, but contributes nothing to the smell. You madam, are beautiful, but you lack that fragrance of beauty, which we call love.’

“Having pronounced these withering words, I looked steadily at her. She smiled.

“’You are not far from the truth,’ said she: ‘I am the Camellia,’ – and then she walked proudly into the ball-room.
--Camellia's Regrets from The Language of Flowers.

Other Movies, however old in which Camellias are featured include

Margueritte's camellias in Camille.

Charlotte's camellias in Now, Voyager (Bette Davis, 1942).
The title of the romantic melodrama film was taken from well-known American poet Walt Whitman's 1892 Leaves of Grass (from the section titled The Untold Want):

The Untold Want
By Life and Land Ne'er Granted
Now, Voyager
Sail Thou Forth to Seek and Find

Weather has not been kind to our Camellias this year.

In the book To Kill a Mockingbird  by Harper Lee the boy Jem takes Scout's twirling baton and knocks the tops off Mrs. Dubose’s camellia bushes. As punishment, Jem must go to the Dubose house every day for a month and read to her. He and Scout endure Mrs. Dubose’s verbal abuse and peculiar fits which occur at the end of every reading session. Each session is a little longer. Mrs. Dubose dies a little more than a month after Jem’s punishment ends. Mrs. Dubose's maid delivers a box to Jem.

Jem opened the box. Inside, surrounded by wads of damp cotton, was a white, waxy, perfect camellia. It was a Snow-on-the-Mountain.

Jem's eyes nearly popped out of his head. "Old hell-devil, old hell-devil!" he screamed, flinging it down. "Why can't she leave me alone?"

In a flash Atticus was up and standing over him. Jem buried his face in Atticus's shirt front. "Sh-h," he said. "I think that was her way of telling you-everything's all right now, Jem, everything's all right. You know, she was a great lady."

... I told you that if you hadn't lost your head I'd have made you go read to her. I wanted you to see something about her-I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew."

Jem picked up the candy box and threw it in the fire. He picked up the camellia, and when I went off to bed I saw him fingering the wide petals. -- To Kill a Mockingbird --Harper Lee

Camellia season will end when the weather gets hot, usually mid-April
when the dark red Blood of China is in full bloom.
I hope by that time we'll know the Regrets of White Camellias in Cybill's movie.


  1. How do you manage to stay up with all of this.
    I didn't even know Cybill Sheppard was making a movie.

    I need to re-read To Kill A Mockingbird. I did love that book, but have no memory of the camellia story.

    The weather may not have been favorable but they still look lovely....and have no fragrance? I didn't know that.

  2. Very interesting stuff here...the Camellia has a quiet beauty if you ask me.

  3. The white one have quiet beauty. Some of the more vivid ones here scream from a bush as tall as the carport, almost indecently neon pink.

    They haven't much fragrance, Glenda. When it is damp, the Camellia sasanqua has a tea fragrance when you walk by. The big japonicas look as if they should smell so wonderfully sweet and have no fragrance at all. The first impulse is to sniff them, even when you know better.

  4. Sweet of you to connect Harper Lee's work with Camellias..... Over here some name their daughters "Kamilia" after the flower.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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