The subject was camellias -- ostensibly, that is -- but for me, the subject was really Red Barber.
"Who would have listened," Bob said the other day, "if, twenty years ago, we announced we were going to talk to this old guy in Florida about camellias and cats". I'd never really thought of Red and Bob's Friday morning chats that way before, but it's true: the segments that really touched us offered very little real information, yet summed up everything about the pleasures of being alive.
Red's been dead almost ten years now, but the camellia Bob grows in his honor is still thriving. You could have bowled me over when Bob first asked me a gardening question about that shrub; it was like the catbird coming home to roost. I remember the first time I got Red on the phone -- 1979 -- wondering if he'd be interested in doing an interview with Bob (never imagining the radio history they'd make together). And now, here I am, twenty years later, doing camellia Q&A.
God save me, next it'll be cats...
So about those camellias. To get an overall sense of the genus, check out this plant profile from Plant This! (what, I'm not allowed to hawk my own book?). The best picture book on the subject has got to be Stirling Macoboy's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Camellias (Timber Press).
And if you've got some burning questions about your plant -- or anything else going on in your garden -- put 'em here, right across the plate.
Here's a couple of sources for more information on Red Barber
Most Important Floridians of the 20th Century
American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame
Vin Scully on Red Barber
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