Camellia Forest Tea Gardens has grown out of the vision of Christine and David Parks, who founded the garden in 2006 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to test and promote the wide variety of tea plants in their collection, and provide a long-term resource for local and independent tea gardeners. Through the nursery at Camellia Forest, David has been collecting, propagating and selling tea plants to gardeners and small farmers throughout the United States and around the world. For David, our tea gardens are a botanical preserve for a collection of diverse varieties, testing hardiness and productivity. For Christine, they are a peaceful retreat for cultivating and harvesting tea, making her own teas and blends, learning and teaching.
Christine has always loved gardening and cooking with fresh, homegrown produce. After moving to NC with David in 1994, she trained to become an epidemiologist. Now, in addition to growing tea, Christine works as a researcher in environmental science and public health. One of the things she likes best about tea (besides the aroma as it dries), is the creative and healthy outlet in growing and crafting tea. She is inspired by the lifetime of opportunities to learn about tea history, craft and culture, and her vision is to share her experiences and knowledge to support a community of local, independent growers.
David grew up surrounded by all thing Camellia. After college and a short laboratory career in botany and molecular biology, he found his way back home to run the family business, Camellia Forest Nursery, in Chapel Hill North Carolina. In the nursery, David grows hundreds of different Camellias and other species. In addition to growing most of the plants they sell, David is the one who makes it all happen at the nursery. In his spare time, he tends his collection of rare and unusual plants, and enjoys traveling as a modern-day "plant hunter". His vision is to preserve botanical diversity, promote the preservation of rare and endangered species and varieties, and encourage the use of Camellias in the landscape (including tea).
As a family business, we also want to acknowledge our two amazing kids, Alex (19) and Julia (13), who help out once in awhile when we need it most. We are so proud watching them growing-up. The garden was first planted when Julia was 2 years old, and on two occasions now has grown so tall to require pruning so that Christine can harvest without a ladder!