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Longtime Camellia Grower In Altadena Simply Won't Worry About the Snow

A tall, thick bush with green leaves and pink flowers.
Camellias in London, England.
(Dan Kitwood
Getty Images)
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Camellias are in full bloom right now, just in time for this remarkably cold storm that's bringing snow down to the Southern California foothills and valleys.

Nuccio's Nursery in Altadena is at the 1,500-foot level, where acres of camellias and azaleas have been grown since the 1940s.

Co-owner Tom Nuccio recalls the big storm of 1949, when his father and uncle, who founded the nursery, trudged through a foot of snow to get to it because their car couldn't make it up Chaney Trail.

There, they fretted about their inventory.

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"My dad and uncle, being two California boys who never knew much about snow, they decided to wash the snow off the plants," Nuccio said. "They were doing more damage by watering the plants because it made icicles and damaged the plants. So they said, 'To heck with it, we're not going to do any more. If they freeze, they freeze.'"

Nuccio says the snow acted as insulation and the plants that remained covered in it were fine after it melted off.

He notes camellias are native to Japan, where it snows, and he wasn't planning any interventions when LAist spoke with him Wednesday.

"You might get some tip damage on the tender growth, but I don't think it's going to be anything lethal," he said.

So he's not worried, except about the shade cloth, but cutting slits in them helps keep them from collapsing.

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