After 200 years one of the world’s rarest Middlemists red camellias gets new lease on life

It lived through the Battle of Trafalgar, survived the reign of Victoria and escaped unharmed from a Blitz bomb.So it’s going to take more than a harsh British winter to stop one of the world’s rarest camellias from bursting into flower. This week – in a welcome sign that spring is just around the corner – the ‘Middlemist’s Red’ has put on its most spectacular display in many years. Brought from China to England more than 200 years ago, it is enjoying a new lease of life thanks to the restoration of its 19th century conservatory at Chiswick House, west London, where it is pictured being tended by head gardener Fiona Crumley.