The “Middlemist’s Red,” also known as the spring rose, is commonly recognised as the world’s rarest flower, with just two of these valuable plants remaining, one in New Zealand and the other in the United Kingdom.
Middlemist’s Red Camelia, named after John Middlemist, who discovered it in China in 1804, was always a rare flower that could only be found in the grand English homes of well-off families who could afford to buy them. Middlemist himself presented his specimen to Kew Gardens, but it vanished, along with the others throughout London and the UK, with the exception of one location.
By 1823, the Chiswick House & Gardens, an English noble home, had become the sole spot in the United Kingdom where a Middlemist’s Red could be admired.
How the Middlemist’s Red was wiped out in its native China, or how one specimen made its way to New Zealand and survived there for nearly two centuries, are riddles that we will probably never solve. However, we do know that this ultra-rare camelia variety is incredibly rare and valuable.
Despite the fact that the word “red” is technically in the name, Middlemist’s Red is a rich pink colour. The New Zealand species can be located at Waitangi Treaty House, where it was allegedly planted in 1833.
Officially, the only two places where you can view a Middlemist’s Red plant are New Zealand’s Treaty House and the UK’s Chiswick House & Gardens, although that’s not legally right because the UK side has been handing away clippings to individuals wealthy enough to buy them.
They may have been very picky about who receives a piece of this living treasure, but in the end, it all comes down to price, so it’s not unexpected that Sky Gardens by Rafal, a high-rise in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was the newest recipient of a cutting from the UK-based Middlemist’s Red plant.
Geraldine King, the gardener of Chiswick House & Gardens, said that when the Duke of Devonshire possessed Chiswick House & Gardens a couple of centuries ago, he sold Middlemist’s Red cuttings for around £3,200 ($4,400).
“We’re picky about who receives them,” King explained. “The plant we are presenting to Saudi Arabia is one of the first cuttings we obtained from the Middlemist’s Red.”