While peony flowers dominated in floral decoration through much of eastern China, the distinctive climate of northern Yunnan produced an abundance of Camellia reticulata blossom which were celebrated among Bai and Yi minorities. Yunnan city districts such as Kunming, Chuxiong, Baoshan, Tengchong and Dali developed their own distinctive camellia cultures and garden aesthetic over hundreds of years. In the case of Dali, along the shores of Lake Erhai, eight famous cultivars mark the cultural significance of camellia to the city. Celebrated in poetry, literature, painting and other art forms, the famous eight camellias of Old Dali might have been cultivated more widely in Yunnan but as a group they developed a special cultural distinction.
The eight include (as photographed above):
- The eight include (as photographed above):
(1) ‘Zhusha Zipao’ (Cinnabar Purple Gown)
(2) ‘Yunnan Hedinghong’ (Scarlet Crane’s Crest)
(3) ‘Zipao’ (Purple Gown)
(4) ‘Damanao’ (Large Cornelian)
(5) ‘Hentiangao’ (Envious of Heaven’s Height)
(6) ‘Tongzimian’ (Baby Face)
(7) ‘Dalicha’ (Dali Camellia)
(8) ‘Songzilin’ (Pine Cone Scales)
Celebration of these reticulatas continues today in Dali Zhang’s Garden, and also Yu’er Park Dali, designated an International Camellia Garden of Excellence in 2016.
Source: Notes taken by Stephen Utick, ICS Congress Dali 216 with advice from Professor Wang Zhonglang, Kunming Institute of Botany. See also: The Zhang’s Garden, China, acquired 2012 (possibly produced 2010), Dali Zhang Family’s Garden, DVD, ISRC CN-G10-10-0052-0/V.J9; Utick, S 2013, ‘Zhang’s Garden: The New Wonder of Old Dali China’, Camellia News, The Journal of Camellias Australia Inc., No. 193 – Spring/Summer, pp. 12-15. Photography by Stephen Utick and Jim Powell.