When winter comes, camellias have their day in the sun in Southern California! The vibrant blossoms will be celebrated at the annual Descanso Gardens Camellia & Tea Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 11 and 12, 2017. The festival includes dance performances by Invertigo Dance Theatre and walks through the Descanso camellia collection which was designated an International Camellia Garden of Excellence by the International Camellia Society. Activities are free with admission to Descanso Gardens unless noted.

Native to Asia, camellias have a long history at the La Cañada Flintridge botanic garden. In the late 1930s, Descanso founder E. Manchester Boddy collected the plants for his new estate. In 1942, he purchased the camellia inventories of two nurserymen of Japanese heritage, F.M. Uyematsu of Star Nursery and F.W. Yoshimura of Mission Nursery, when they were forced into internment camps during World War II. This acquisition of tens of thousands of camellia plants became the basis of Boddy’s cut flower business – and became the foundation of Descanso’s first signature collection.

The Camellia Festival’s name was changed a few years ago to include “tea,” which recognizes that the plant’s reach extends beyond the garden into the kitchen. A variety of camellia, Camellia sinensis, is the source of tea, one of the world’s most popular beverages.
The program schedule for both days includes:

• Chado Tea Tasting, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Sample a variety of teas and learn about tea (Camellia sinensis) from the experts of Chado Tea of Pasadena.
• Camellia Crafts, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Bring the youngsters for hands-on art activities.
• Camellia Walks, 9:30 a.m.: Take a guided walk of the Descanso Camellia Collection.
• Camellia Exploration Station, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Look at a variety of camellias and do some up close investigation of these special plants.
• Invertigo Dance Theatre, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.: Enter a magical world of motion with Invertigo Dance Theatre. Enjoy a lively performance of dance and live music, followed by an interactive workshop.
• Patina Camellia Festival Specials,10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Enjoy a variety of Patina’s teriyaki sandwiches with tasty side dishes, tea, and other snacks and beverages available for purchase.

Admission to Descanso Gardens is $9 for adults; $6 for seniors and students with a school I.D.; $4 for children 5 to 12, and free for age 4 and younger. Join Descanso Gardens and enjoy free admission and early entry year-round. Descanso Gardens is open daily (closed Christmas) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Founded as a public garden in 1953, Descanso Gardens is located at 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge. For information, call (818) 949-4200 or visit www.descansogardens.org. Descanso Gardens is a member-supported garden accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.