Early camellias are set to be the latest attraction at an historic Highlands property.
Harper's Mansion - a National Trust (NSW) property located in Berrima - is renowned for its collection of heritage roses.
The team of dedicated volunteers at the property are now developing a dedicated walk to highlight early camellias and their history in NSW.
Camellias have been a much-loved feature in Australian gardens since the first years of the colony.
The dark-green glossy-leaved shrubs provide year-round structure to our gardens, enhanced by their richly coloured blooms in early spring.
Four years ago, Harper's Mansion purchased 15 camellias - several of which are believed to have come from James Macarthur's property at Camden Park.
The camellias had been acquired by Berrima nurseryman, Claude Crowe, and propagated by members of the Australian Garden History Society (AGHS).
Several more have since been added to the collection, most donations from Camellia Ark which is committed to ensuring older varieties of camellia survive.
These plants are now established and, at about one metre high, they are producing their first show of flowers.
Volunteers at Harper's are keen to make them more accessible to visitors and this year with the help of funding from the AGHS, the Camellia Walk will be formalised and signage provided to name each of the plants and to tell the story of their history.
The guided walk is also supported by Camellia Ark and will feature some of the earliest introductions of camellias to the colony, many of them now quite rare.
Chris Thompson, who coordinates the volunteer efforts at Harper's Mansion, said the National Trust was known "mainly for conserving our built heritage, but the two-acre garden we have at Harper's Mansion means we can also look to conserving some old plant varieties that are disappearing from private gardens."
"As with roses, many gardeners now prefer new varieties of camellia, often with larger and more complex blooms," he said.
"But there is a place for older varieties and where better than a National Trust garden?"
Harper's Mansion is open every weekend between 10.30am and 4.00pm.
Visit soon and you can see the camellias and enjoy the blossoms of the many fruit and ornamental trees and early bulbs.