Sunday, October 6, 2013


I have been truly touched by the many "likes" and positive comments on my Friday Facebook post of my latest art quilt "Bella Camellia". 
Many thanks to all of you.
Camellias are an inherent part of many, many Southern California gardens and bloom consistently and abundantly in our mild winter and spring seasons. Our 1935 house in Westwood boasts many venerable examples, now almost trees, which must have been planted 60-70 years ago. My quilt was based on my own photo of blooms on one of these old bushes last winter. The name of the variety is lost in time. 
I manipulated the photo on my Ipad and in Photoshop on the computer and printed in on cotton. I then added textile inks and paints for added color and dimension, thread painted the flowers and leaves and free motion embroidered the central bee. I then double batted the blossoms and the foreground leaves for a 3D effect and finally free motion quilted it in very fine silk thread,  

The popularity of camellias here may be due to a few factors. One is the establishment early in the 20th century of two world famous gardens that feature huge plantings of camellias - Descanso Gardens in La Canada-Flintridge and the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino. The second is the presence of one of the world's foremost camellia Nurseries - Nuccios's - in the hills above Altadena.

Nuccio's is, to me, a magical place. I remember going there as a child with my mother every winter. The Nuccios have been in the nursery business since 1935 and nestled on acreage in an Altadena canyon since 1946. founded by Giulio Nuccio and his sons Julius and Joseph and now run by their sons, Tom, Jim and Julius, they grow, hybridized and sell top quality camellias and azaleas to nurseries, collectors and gardeners all over the world. Some of the most famous varieties of camellias in the world were hybridized right there in Altadena. 
 My husband and I make the pilgrimage to Nuccio's at least once or twice a year. The beauty of the spot captivates us - high in a sycamore, eucalyptus and chaparral studded canyon above the LA basin, the air is soft and clear. Hawks circle above and occasionally screech - that's all that disturbs the quiet. The growing yards go on for acres and invite a meditative stroll. Near the rather ramshackle office ancient redwood benches are laden with the morning's cut blooms for appreciation and selection. Nothing has changed here since I was 10 years old. The modern world is at the door, however. There is now a website, but to order you have to either go there in person or write a letter.... there is no published email address. 
 We ask questions about growing culture, feeding and which variety might be best in a particular place in our garden and the Nuccio brothers/cousins are always so friendly, knowledgable and patient. They take us out in the yards and help us select the perfect plant. We always go home happy and refreshed and with much more in the back of the car than we had planned.
 Our hearts were heavy when we learned that the nursery was threatened in the Station Fire in the Fall of 2009 and so happy when it survived untouched. We fear the day when like so many others in Southern California this beautiful canyon becomes a victim of urban sprawl and subdivision. Until then, we continue to visit and enjoy.
"Bella Camellia" is dedicated to the Nuccio family and their wonderful nursery for all the lovely afternoons... It's truly one of Southern California's gems.

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