Six on Saturday – 21/11/2020

It’s been a dreary old week where very little gardening has been done. I did manage to get up to Mt Edgcumbe and Antony House on Thursday, trying to identify a recalcitrant Camellia or two, with limited success. At least I was outdoors and away from the house, which feels the more liberating for being borderline legit. Normally I spend my time there in splendid isolation but this time I had quite a long chat with a couple of park visitors who were admiring the Camellias in flower. I’m never happier than when I’m talking plants with someone who’s interested, so that was a good day.

Talking of Camellias in flower, I’m starting with a repeat, Camellia sasanqua ‘Navajo’. I open the front window blind every morning and this is what I’m confronted with. When you point a camera at it you get reflections from the glass that you normally don’t notice, so I also ventured outside, pinned myself back against the wall and took another picture, then noticed a seed pod, with one seemingly live seed in it. I’ve sown it, of course. The white Camellia behind is ‘Paradise Little Liane’, another sasanqua variety.

Just behind the Camellias in the pictures above, you can just see a bit of Yucca. It also is there to greet me in the morning. It’s flowering late and slowly. From the downstairs window I see it against a backdrop of cars both running and derelict, houses, bins, a tatty boat and assorted other junk. From upstairs I managed a gravel background. It’s native to the coast of the southeastern USA, it must feel right at home here.

Yucca gloriosa ‘Variegata’

I have another Camellia just starting to flower out the back, and I’m especially glad that it is. It’s the six foot plant of Camellia ‘Minato-no-akebono’ that I moved not so long ago as reported on 26 September. We did get one or two dry spells in which I watered it copiously, but it practically hasn’t turned a hair. My back is still whingeing mind. The bloom is only damaged because it had a leaf rubbing against it. Scented, flowers for months, I love it.

Camellia ‘Minato-no-akebono’ (lutchuensis hybrid)

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Early Sensation’. I’ve only put this in a six once before and that was back in November 2018 for its autumn colour. It’s never made it for its flowers. This year it seems to have produced at least as many shoots that didn’t flower as did, and they’ve grown twice as tall. Very fleetingly it produced something of an autumn colour display but the wind soon put paid to that. There are a few leaves hanging on to the shoot tips. The name remains a mystery, it’s not especially early and it certainly isn’t a sensation.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Early Sensation’

Back in 2018 you could at least see the Hydrangea, then last year we put a big bunch of Salvia confertiflora in front of it, not really expecting them to get 6 feet tall. Most of them died last winter and a big Fuchsia arborescens was parachuted in to fill the gap, and hide the Hydrangea. The overwintered cuttings of the Salvia were planted into spaces elsewhere. They haven’t been as good as last year but I’m not complaining about anything that still looks good at the back end of November.

Salvia confertiflora.

Begonia U614 is another repeat, from July. It’s a borderline hardy species which I overwintered under cover last winter to its great liking, and intend to do the same this year. But here we are in late November and it’s still looking amazingly good, with no sign of it going underground for winter. If I lift it like this I think it will stay evergreen, which might not be a bad thing, it would really hit the ground running when planted out again in the spring. I think I’ll give it to the end of the month then lift it in whatever state it’s in; much the same, looking at the weather forecast.

Begonia U614

I took the plunge yesterday and ordered an extension kit for Sue’s cactus house. There’s a long delivery time of 20 weeks or more, so I won’t be posting about it for a while. It does mean I can make progress on the rest of that area though, given some half decent weather. I can build the base for it, so I’m ready to put it up in the spring. It’s a relief to have made a decision.
Whatever the weather, I have promised a couple of large camellias to some friends who have just moved into a new house and garden, digging them is pencilled in for today and helping to plant them for tomorrow maybe.
Seemingly, according to The Propagator, that makes me a pig not a chicken. Don’t ask me, go look at his six.

29 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 21/11/2020

  1. Our climate seems to be mellowing sufficiently to allow these Camellia sasanquas to be more easily grown. They were always a challenge to overwinter here but seem to be doing better in latter years. They give a wonderful winter interest.


  2. Lovely colourful Six-on-Saturday again, Jim. Your begonia doesn’t look too much like a begonia. I may have said before that the regimented, rather small leaved ones you see in parks were my first impression and put me off buying begonias. The ones in my troughs have been a delight since late summer.


    1. Begonia semperflorens, I’m not keen either. I didn’t manage to get quite such good colours of the big flowered ones this year, I like to buy them in flower but they were thin on the ground when garden centres reopened.


  3. Please you are going ahead with the extension to the greenhouse without further ado. Magnificent camellias and so pretty in their white and peach/pink flowers.


    1. Once I found I could extend the glasshouse properly, without having to bodge it, it was an easy decision. Sue gets more glasshouse space, I don’t lose more ground than necessary, happiness all round. Another fairly big job though.


  4. Hi Jim – you’ve mentioned moving a camellia which makes me think you’re the man to ask about this. I have one I’d like to move but it’s smothered in next year’s buds and made me wonder if now is a good time or not? Any advice gratefully received. Also – further to our Podocarpus exchange last week, I was perusing the Burncoose Nurseries catalogue this week and it mentioned the Podocarpus trials at Caerhays and Tregrehan.


    1. I did a post on moving camellias on my other blog, I have actually lifted two from the ground today, both 5-6 feet tall. They’ll get planted tomorrow. Tom Hudson has an incredible collection of rare conifers at Tregrehan, my favourite Cornish garden, I must ask him about the Podocarps when I next see him. Graham Hutchins and Derek Spicer of Kilworth Conifers did a plant collecting trip to New Zealand in the mid 1980’s and Derek had them all lined out in his nursery to trial. If he rated them he named them and added them to his catalogue.


  5. What a pretty begonia. I don’t have a place to overwinter, so just stick to what can stay outdoors, or annuals that I expect to replace.


    1. The Begonia could stay out if given a covering of leaves to protect it from frost but would come up very late in the spring. I find it better to get them started under cover. It doesn’t get very cold here, just the occasional lightish frost.


  6. Glad to hear even proper gardeners like you are finding it a bit challenging out there at the moment. I recently planted a Camellia ‘Nobilissima’ in my mum’s garden and am looking forward to seeing it in flower.


  7. Delightful Camellias, Jim. I am nurturing my only one which is in a large pot and hoping for flowers again when the time comes – Autumn, I suppose. Have been following the top garden and greenhouse saga with interest.


    1. The white Camellia behind ‘Navajo’ is ‘Paradise Little Liane’ which was raised at Kulnura, which by Australian standards is just down the road from you; just a little matter of Wollemi National Park between you. And then there was the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens which we managed a whistle stop tour of on the way back to Sydney; and you’re following my tale of a housing estate garden in Cornwall on the other side of the world, and vice versa of course. Such a big world, such a small world. I was admiring the Wollemi pine at Antony House when I was up there on thursday, it has female cones breaking up on it and I was searching the ground for seeds. It’s as if my mind wears glasses, it can focus on the small things close by or the massive things far away, but never both at the same time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know Little Liane. The Paradise camellias grow fabulously well on the coast. I wonder if you meant the Mt Tomah gardens in the Blue Mountains? Very beautiful, with stunning views (and a nice restaurant), sadly rather badly affected by the Mega fire last summer. We have been meaning to call in and see how it is recovering.
        Good to hear about a successful Wollemi Pine. Now, that would be a great challenge for you, Jim, to grow one of those from seed!


      2. I have tried but nothing came up. Sad to hear about Mt Tomah; yes, that is the one. They had some great young wollemias, presumably seedlings, growing like mad. They’ve done quite well over here, I know of quite a few.

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  8. Yucca gloriosa, variegated or not, is one of the prettier yuccas for foliage. Several species of Yucca are native to California, but they are desert species with rather bland foliage. However, (Hespero)Yucca whipplei has the grandest bloom! Eve though it has been a problem in some regions where I work, I still want it in my own garden.


      1. When I get mine, I want to get it from the San Luis Obispo region, where I went to school. I think that it is the prettiest of the four or so varieties, and is the one that I happen to be familiar with. It is easy to dig. I never met the variety that lives in Baja California. I have seen what I believe to be the other two varieties in Southern California, but did not find them to be so appealing. The variety that lives in the Santa Monica Mountains above Beverly Hills (in the Los Angeles region) forms crowded colonies that do not shed their old foliage efficiently.

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      2. Most of what is available in nurseries is cultivars. I doubt that there are any cultivars of Yucca whipplei, and I suspect that the common sort (that I am most familiar with from the San Luis Obispo region) is all that is available in nurseries. However, seed of the others is available for those who ‘really’ want it.

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