Camellia for Foliage, Flowers, Fruit & Tea

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CURRENT SITUATION

The Camellia plant offers the following products:

1)  Foliage

Foliage is a constituent of most bouquets and is the traditional "greenery" that accompanies cut flowers. Only 1.3% of the UK foliage market is made up of Camellia. The foliage market is developing in that totally-foliage bunches are being offered by some specialist companies. In this sector the Camellia is at the top end of the range in terms of price and perceived quality and it has an excellent shelf life. Cornwall's unique climate is well suited to the production of cut foliage from Camellia gardens. Other factors that naturally require consideration are soil, variety, cultural requirements and long-term care.

Initial set up costs of a Camellia garden are relatively high and so a long payback period is inevitable. Developments already underway at Tregothnan include year-round availability, extended vase life, self glossed leaves and new shapes, textures and colours. Market research of the luxury users is a canvass for views, desires and ideas. However, Camellia is unlikely ever to be a mass-market product like, for example, eucalyptus, because it cannot compete on price.

2)  Flowers and Plants

Camellia displays are one of the main spring colour attractions for tourists to Cornwall. Extending the season would not only increase the number of tourists, but the earlier the season, the more of the tourists fall into the higher income brackets. Not only are they likely to buy more plants, they will also be buying accommodation, meals and other ancillary items which help the local economy.

The current market for plant sales is put at £4,500,000 for the whole of the UK. Camellia flower colours currently available are red, pink, white and pale yellows. If this could be extended to include orange and blue this market would grow. New colours are in fact imminent resulting from conventional breeding. Genetic manipulation, if and when acceptable, could offer many more variations. New cultivated varieties are bred with frantic enthusiasm all over the world and possibly 30,000 already exist.

Packaging in the form of pots, labels and point of sale material is vitally important. The chain of opportunities to add value is shorter for plants than for tea and is less repeatable than for foliage. Plant sales are mainly as a 2 or 3 year old from vegetative propagation. These are typically sold in 2.5 litre containers in a media containing peat.

3)  Oil

Oil, culinary and otherwise, is a major product of Camellia in the Orient. (It should not be confused with "tea tree oil" which comes from the New Zealand melaleuca plant). Oil is derived particularly from the species oliefera. The Hunan Academy of

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