A camellia flower jewelry collection
From Madeline: The camellia flower is a staple of any traditional Southern garden. They are most recognizable for their bold, bright pink to crisp white or deep red flowers that bloom through the coldest and darkest time of the year in the South.
They are the first promise of springtime when the days are short and darker than ever. The best part is that these prolific blooming flowers are generous with their beauty. The shrubs are usually so covered with flowers that there are more than enough to cut and share with neighbors and friends.
What a wonderful sentiment to be so overflowing with beauty when we need it the most (and need to share it.)
As a former landscape architect, this Southern classic was at the top of my list to make for years. I knew it was time when Camellia Brand Beans reached out to see if we’d create camellia flower jewelry for them.
The Camellia Brand has been a family-owned business in New Orleans since 1923. At one point, “95% of packaged dry beans sold in New Orleans were Camellia Brand.”
Bags of their beans have been on the kitchen countertops since I was tall enough to see what was up there. If you come from the South, your mothers and grandmothers likely turned these dry beans into the best meal you remember. Camellia beans are quite literally in our Southern bones.
Hidden in our camellia flower jewelry is a tiny red bean, as an homage to the company that’s fed us so well all these years. There is no denying the camellia flower is a fixture in our Southern culture regardless of if you love the flower, the beans, or both.
What makes camellia flowers so special
As I was working on this camellia flower jewelry and preparing to share it, I came across an unexpected aspect of the camellia flower I hadn’t realized before.
You can’t buy a bouquet of camellias.
Most of our favorite flowers are almost always ready for purchase at the flower shop or grocery store but not camellias. At the tail end of long winters, we receive them as gifts from friends, family, neighbors, or (usually generously) directly from nature.
There's no money involved. It's just the thoughtful transaction of beauty from one to another.
Special thanks to Randy and Bevin Barringer for providing all the camellia flowers we needed for this camellia flower jewelry project.
Why our camellia flower jewelry needed to launch on a Monday
When it came time to decide when to launch our camellia flower jewelry, it couldn't be just any day of the week. We ultimately decided it had to be on a Monday.
You may wonder what camellia flowers and Mondays have in common, but it has everything to do with the red bean nestled into each camellia flower jewelry piece. If you live in New Orleans or grew up with the tradition, you know Mondays mean it's red beans for dinner.
Camellia Brand explains that beans and rice recipes were brought to Louisiana in the 1700s by French-speaking Haitians fleeing the revolution in Saint Domingue — the area we now know as Haiti.
"Local housewives and housekeepers quickly adapted the thrifty, convenient practice of tossing meaty ham bones leftover from Sunday suppers into simmering pots of red kidney beans that could be left to cook, undisturbed, over a low flame for hours – leaving them free to engage in the arduous Monday drudgery that was 'laundry day.'"
Red Beans and Rice Recipes to try at home
If you're meal planning for the week, put one of these recipes on the menu for Monday night! You'll find both the classic dish and red beans with a twist below!
- "Camellia's Famous New Orleans-Style Red Beans and Rice"
- Or if you're looking for a quicker dinner option, check out Camellia's "Instant Pot New Orleans-Style Red Beans and Rice."
- Joy the Baker's "Red Beans and Rice Burgers"
Red beans & Camellia flowers — all the buzz around these two Southern staples
Krewe of Red Beans
When it comes to red beans here in Louisiana, we don't just eat them; we wear them! Browse our camellia flower jewelry collection if you aren’t convinced.
What started as a parade between a small group of friends is now a Lundi Gras (the Monday before Mardi Gras) celebration. The Red Beans krewe was "inspired by a mixture of New Orleans traditional cultural practices - mainly the annual suit-making of Black Masking Indians and the parade style of second lines."
The Krewe of Red Beans parade is one of three bean parades celebrated on Lundi Gras. And krewe members decorate their elaborate costumes with, you guessed it, beans. Join in on the bean decoration fun when you get camellia flower jewelry from MIMOSA Handcrafted.
Scroll through #kreweofredbeans for a taste of the parade and its seriously impressive costuming.
Follow @redbeansparade on Instagram!
Camellia is also a sponsor of the Krewe of Red Beans Parade each year.
Photo courtesy of Camellia Brand
The Baton Rouge Camellia Society
If you have a passion for camellia flowers, you may want to check out the Baton Rouge Camellia Society!
Its members also have a show and plant sale each year and even a society nursery at the LSU AgCenter Burden Center. Learn more about the Baton Rouge Camellia Society, and if you're interested in becoming a member, reach out to the BRCS on Facebook.
Red Beans and Camellia Flower-Inspired art
Our love for these two Southern staples goes beyond making camellia flower jewelry, recipes, and camellias themselves. These are a few of our favorite red bean and camellia-inspired pieces.
- Catahoula Ceramics' ceramic bean "throws" for the Krewe of Red Beans Parade
- Emma Fick's "Red Beans and Rice" Print
- NOLA Pens' "Red Beans Rice" Coasters
- Emma Fick's "Louisiana Botanicals: Camellia" Print
All images are courtesy of the artists.
Published 1/24/23; Last Updated 1/24/23