Camellias gently wrapped in cellophane...

The camellias in the Pazo of Santa Cruz de Ribadulla, gently wrapped in the cellophane-mist, which is so typical of their home, are not merely illustrious, but illustrative. Illustrious for their antiquity, and because of their close links with the household. Illustrative because, even when their bloom begins to fade, their paper-like texture which feels like old silk even after their season is over, must have accompanied the famed writer and politician Jovellanos, as they lay inert on the very same stone table on which the great man drafted some of his most thoughtful essays.

But Jovellanos missed the best of the camellia season as it was already mid April, and most of the flowers had already died; the delicate blooms lay scattered everywhere, face up, expired yet perfectly formed.

From that time on, the camellias in Ribadulla grew wild, in their natural state as a botanist might say. Fleeing from the garden, they made their way into the woods. Then Mother Nature took over, haphazardly dispersing camellia seeds according to the whim of birds or the wind. She let the plants flourish wherever they might land. And just as it happened in Japan, the original homeland of these flowers, a forest of Camellias began to grow there, and became an ever-changing forest.

Surrounded by murmuring fountains and rustling leaves, midst waterfalls and secret nooks, more than 200 varieties of camellias renew themselves each winter. Magnolias, no less venerable and leafy than the camellias, envelop them in their sweet scent. Then the woods,which are already a very special place, become something quite unique: a forest of camellias.

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