You cannot visit the South at this time of the year and avoid falling in love with camellias. I am crazy about them. I spend an embarrassing amount of wintertime online at the American Camellia Society Web site, where you can tune into what can only be called a beauty pageant of these glorious things. I fell in love with camellias in New Orleans, where my then-husband’s family lives. Thos. Lemann took me to see Longue Vue, a handsome house and garden designed in the late '30s by Ellen Biddle Shipman and William and Geoffrey Platt for the Stern family. I was a goner at the sight of those canopied branches bowing under the weight of peau de soie petals, each arrayed with what seemed like mathematical precision.
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Dominique Browning's new book is Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, & Found Happiness. She was the editor-in-chief of House & Garden and has worked with and written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, and O. She writes a monthly column for the Environmental Defense Fund and blogs at SlowLoveLife.com.