Six on Saturday – 20/3/2021

The frost and gales of last week are a distant memory and the camellias that were trashed have mostly made a good recovery, with others just getting under way. It’s Camellias all the way down this week; if you don’t like pink, look away now. Or you could go back to the running man’s link hub and check on other peoples obsessions, there’s a lot of us have them.

One.
I’ll start small with Camellia x williamsii ‘Perfecta’ (Jury). I think the story is that this was supplied as a new, unnamed variety to a nursery in the UK who shall remain nameless, who named it ‘Perfecta’. There were already two varieties of that name, making the name invalid, plus ‘Perfecta Alba’, ‘Perfecta Carminea’ and some others. The latinised form ‘Perfecta’ was also invalid. I don’t know if said nursery ever had it in their catalogue and if so, for how long. Nobody grows it now, which is a great shame as it’s a slow growing, free flowering beauty of a thing. This plant was started as a cutting in July 2018 and is now 25cm tall with a flower 11cm across. Grown in the warmth of the greenhouse it has developed stamens and a looser flower, I’ll find a picture of how it does outdoors.

Two.
Camellia reticulata ‘Mystique’. This was a variety I imported from New Zealand in my nursery days, it having been raised by a producer of young plants in Auckland. They no longer list it and it’s listed on the RHS Plantfinder as last available in 2013. It was never registered with the International Camellia Society.
I was perusing it today just a little ruefully as I planted it before the glasshouse nearby was put up or even thought of and it will eventually shade it for part of the day; it’s bigger than I would want to move. It overlooks the area I mentioned last week needed sorting out. The best view of it is from an upstairs window, or from next door.

Three.
Camellia ‘Annette Carol’. Another unavailable variety, last listed, according to the RHS, in 2014. At the beginning of the month this was covered in flowers, many of which were browned by the frost. So long as you don’t look too closely, it’s back to looking pretty good. I want this to get a little taller and wider, but will remove the lower branches, so it casts a less dense shade over a bigger area. The tall narrow variety to the left is ‘Spring Festival’ and to the left of that the scented ‘Koto-no-kaori’, stupidly not accessible from the path.


Four.
Camellia x williamsii ‘Charles Colbert’. Like ‘Annette Carol’, I want this to provide shade, but not too much and I also want it to block the eyeline to the neighbour’s house. I have cleared the lower branches and thinned the crown to let some light through. It will get thinned some more when it’s finished flowering. I need to trim it slightly so it better frames the smaller Camellia to the right and behind it. I need ‘Debbie’, to it’s left, to block the view there, and will let it get up to a metre taller. Yet another unavailable variety, last listed 2019, ‘Charles Colbert’, not ‘Debbie’. ‘Debbie’s’ the sort you could pick up cheap at Morrisons.

Five.
The splash of pink in the background of the previous picture is Camellia ‘Adorable’. I noticed a couple of days ago that its flowers were looking a bit limp, so I watered it and they’ve perked up. Camellias have to be half dead before the leaves start flagging, the flowers are much more delicate. I’d moved the plant in the winter, just a foot back from the path, and with the drying wind we’ve had all week, it was evidently just a little stressed. The soil all around it is moist but its roots haven’t grown back into it yet.


Six.
Camellia japonica ‘Bob’s Tinsie’. When I told Sue what I was going to put in this week’s six and pointed out what a parade of pink it was, with just a splash of red, she said she preferred the pinks, didn’t really like the reds. Over the last few years several camellias have been dug up and given away, like ‘Royal Velvet’ (deep red), ‘Odoratissima’ (bright red), ‘Eximea’ (bright red). I can’t believe I never knew she didn’t really like the reds, why didn’t she say?


I mean, what’s not to like about red? I was potting up Camellia seedlings yesterday, some of which will serve as rootstocks for ‘Mystique’. I grafted half a dozen ‘Frank Houser’ last weekend following a somewhat despairing phone call from someone whose plant of it had snapped clean off at ground level. They’re tied up in plastic bags in my bedroom, expectations of success very low. Then I spent two days at the Camellia collection at Mount Edgcumbe during the week, mainly taking pictures. Like I say, Camellias all the way down this week. The were some very beautiful RED ones flowering up there.

I’ve been out in the garden this morning, it’s a dull day, a little uninspiring, but I dare say I’ll find things to do. See you next week.

61 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 20/3/2021

    1. Ever since I first realised what ‘Perfecta’ was (it was wrongly identified in the collection) and how good it is, I’ve both wanted one for myself and wanted if possible to get it back into circulation. It just seems totally wrong that it isn’t available anywhere.

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  1. The way the Magnolia shows a trunk, and therefore gives a view of the garden beyond is a clever strategy, of course at the same time giving room to underplant.

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    1. Nature rarely leaves an available niche unfilled, be it a season when nothing else is growing or a physical location in three dimensions. The other thing about clearing the trunk an an evergreen is that it is part of managing a plant over a long stretch of time. I’m very hostile to the idea of gardening as exterior decorating, planted to look good now, ripped out and replaced entirely in a few years.

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      1. Oh dear, I am suitably admonished! Quite rightly though, I am too greedy. I seem to want to grow a plant for a few years, then when it is not doing well, find something different to do with the space it takes up. However to my credit, I do find people who want the plants! I grow the plants for the growing experience, as for decorating…I don’t get the hang of that either in the garden or the house. Of course there are the plants I love, and keep going for decades, but you must cut some old duffers a little slack, when they want to try to grow new plants in new ways before they end their days! By the way I admire your style of gardening and all the advice you generously offer when called on for help,

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      2. It wasn’t my intention to admonish you or anyone else. The only rules in gardening are the ones that people make up, the sorts of people who think they know best and that others should do what they do. I don’t want to join their ranks so shoot me down if I appear to be. The best thing about gardening is that no two people come at it quite the same but we all feel part of the same community.

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  2. Wonderful camellias. I’ve never been in a location where I could grow them, very envious of your collection! If you could have just one, in a pot, small enough to bring inside for the winter, what would it be?

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    1. That’s a good question. I have come across very few really small growers, perhaps because they use species in their parentage that are not hardy here. That would mean picking something that could be kept in bounds by pruning, so maybe ‘Koto-no-kaori’, ‘Minato-no=akebono’ or ‘Quintessence’, all early flowering scented varieties that could be pruned after flowering but before they started into growth. There’s a very small sasanqua variety called ‘Dwarf Shishi’ that I think would make a nice weeping potfull. You’d want something that did it’s flowering while you had it inside I think. I have small seedlings of C. parvilimba and that looks like it might be good, ask me in five years time.

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      1. I see their Camellia house dates from the 1820’s, very early indeed in the camellia story outside of Asia. I wonder if they sell any of the old varieties or more modern ones.

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      1. It hadn’t escaped my attention. I live close to Mount Congreve Gardens where there are approximately 500 camellia cultivars – I imagine you’d enjoy it.

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    1. Curiously, about half the camellias in peoples gardens down here are ‘Donation’ and a good proportion of the rest are ‘Debbie’. I suppose if people have room for just one, they go for something reliable but there are very many others that are just as good. The best in my experience for tolerating alkaline soil is ‘Laura Boscawen’ but who’s even heard of it?

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  3. I think I’m with Sue on the reds. There, I’ve said it! I just think the pinks are more delicate. As ever all your plants are simply stunning and you are so knowledgable on them all. Mine are just starting to flower now and I’m finding the flowers are too heavy for some of the stems. Should I be pruning them to improve the stem structure?

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    1. All my real favourites are delicate pinks usually with frilly petals, ‘Annette Carol’, ‘Sweet Jane’, ‘Sunny Side’ and lots of others. I’m still sorting pictures for my camellia pruning blog but basically if you remove the long extension growths that are produced as a second flush in summer, they won’t have flower buds, you’ll keep the stems short and more rigid. Some varieties are inclined to produce long whippy growths though and some varieties have heavy flowers that very often hang down.

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  4. Love them all. Fabulous shaped plants and it looks so good with its lifted crown. I agree red is good–especially as it looks better with a lot of daffodils! I like Pinks in summer but red in Spring! Even very strong pink Magnolias are hard to blend in with other spring colours.

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    1. Pinks with a bluish tone, like Camellia ‘Debbie’ or Diascia, seem to me to clash with a lot of other colours. I generally don’t mind at all, perfectly harmonious low key pastel colour schemes are too safe for my taste.

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  5. The pinks are fabulous, especially Perfecta, but I don’t dislike the reds. There are some very lovely reds around. My one and only white camellia has just begun to open up, a little brown around the edges of some of the flowers, but she does look nice with the daffodils and narcissi at her feet.

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    1. That’s the big downside to whites, they don’t hide damage at all. My dark red ‘Bob Hope’ has to be a real mess before you even notice except from very close quarters. A perfect white bloom though can be sublime.

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  6. Jim, they’re all very lovely, and I especially like those you’ve limbed up a bit (#4). No white Camellias? All the colors are lovely, but I’m partial to the flower form in #1, ‘Perfecta.’ Our RED double Camellia up along the street bloomed last week and is a stunner today, even after our storms last week. Now that it is tall enough that the deer can’t set it back much with their nibbling, it has taken off into its beautiful potential. Too bad we have to make it from May to October without Camellias to admire (at least, here.) Stay safe and have a little faith in those cuttings. -WG

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    1. I do have a couple of whites but one is a sasanqua that flowered before Christmas and another is yet to flower. I know the white I want, it’s called ‘Twilight’, but I’ve not seen it for sale, haven’t got around to taking cuttings of it and have nowhere to put it either, not that that has ever stopped me. It has an even better formal double bloom than ‘Perfecta’. Our season is much the same as yours by the sound of it. There are a few flowers into May, even June, on the very obscure ‘Nanbanko’ but that’s about it.

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      1. I’ll look forward to photos of your white Camellia in the coming weeks. I prefer white sasanquas, because they are so frost tender in the spring. One of our pinks is routinely burned by spring frosts. I don’t yet have a white japonica. I’ll watch for C. ‘Twilight,’ and hope it is available here in the US.

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      2. Should- I checked their online catalog and found a page for it, but no price or button to purchase. May be temporarily out of stock. But, wonder of wonders, in wandering around the front garden today, I found 2 white flowers on a young C. japonica that I transplanted from a pot to the garden a few years ago. If it bloomed the last year or two, I had forgotten it was white. Not as pretty as C. ‘Twilight,’ but nothing to sneeze at, either. I’ll post a photo tomorrow on my daily photo blog. A nice treat on a beautiful spring afternoon.

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      3. Thank you! I’m just in from the garden, but will get a measurement next time I’m near the shrub, if we still have a blossom open. My guestimate is around 2.5 inches, or around 6-7 cm

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      4. Hi Jim, I found the original plant tag for that pretty white Camellia. It is C. japonica ‘Man Size’. Is that one you have available in the UK? I only had a couple of blooms this year, but I’ll expect more as it matures and grows into its space. Hope you are having a good week-

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      5. ‘Man Size’ was one that I was thinking of, along with ‘Powder Puff’ and ‘Baby Sis’. I know ‘Man Size’ is grown here but our RHS Plantfinder online says it was last listed by a nursery in 2014. That’s probably the nursery I worked on. All too familiar story.

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    1. A deceptively simple question to which there isn’t a simple answer. All things being equal, they will flower more freely in sun, but all things never are equal. Does no direct sun mean overhead shade? What varieties are they? Are they being pruned? Are they making rather lush growth? What else are they competing with?

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      1. They are in an opening in a wooded glad – so nothing overhead, but surrounded by large trees. There is plenty of light, just no direct sunlight. As to varieties – mostly the supermarket kinds. They were either gifts or ‘open gardens’ home grown ones. Nothing has been pruned yet as they are only about 3ft high. Not making lush growth – slow and steady. I’ve noticed some buds on one of them, but they are a bit on the small side.

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      2. Sounds like they’re a bit small to be flowering freely. Growing them in pots in tunnels encourages flowering but when they get planted out they revert to normal, which is to get some growing done first.

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    1. Anemone form, is what it’s known as. The stamens become petaloid, but don’t turn into proper petals as in a normal semi or fully double flower. The really odd thing about camellias is that some varieties have fully formed stamens and single flowers in warm climates and in cool climates the stamens turn petaloid, or they change from one season to the next. Most people would be convinced it was a different variety altogether. ‘Bob’s Tinsie’ is always like that in my experience.

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  7. This is what Camellia should look like. They are so fluffy and dense. I sometimes think that some of ours should be cut to the ground and left to regrow. They are so tall and lanky that it takes a few years to prod them back and get them to fluff out within. I do happen to like them pruned up as small trees though, but unlike ours, with billowy canopies like yours. I am none too keen on too much pink, but white can be rather repetitive with Camellia, and those with big yellow centers are almost yellowish. Camellia just happen to excel at pink.

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    1. There’s a significant difference to how leafy Camellias generally are between the east and west of the UK, a distance of at most 300 miles. In the wetter west the growth is much fluffier. I shan’t be able to describe it any other way now. Camellias DO excel at pink, there are more shades of pink amongst Camellias than seems remotely possible.

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      1. Except for the coldest climates of the Sierra Nevada, I do not know of any climate in California where the various Camellias are not happy. Nuccio’s is in a chaparral climate like that of the Santa Clara Valley, but with about twice as much rain. (Of course it is not obvious with all the surrounding desert scenery of the San Gabriel Mountains!) My former neighborhood in the Santa Clara Valley gets about a foot of rain annually (but is greener than the San Gabriel Mountains). This region, which is just a few miles outside of the Santa Clara Valley, is one of the rainiest parts of California, and gets about three times as much rain. Strangely, the rainy season is the same. I mean that the Santa Clara Valley gets the same storms that pass over here. We just get more water out of the storms. Anyway, the camellias at work are so lanky because of the shade of the redwood forests. Otherwise, they would be fluffier than those farther inland. I don’t know why, but they stand up better with the weight of bloom. Big specimens in the Santa Clara can sag from the weight of bloom, like apricot trees full of apricots. They are spectacular nonetheless.

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      2. Once they’re well established they really are amazingly tolerant of a very wide range of conditions. We don’t have serious mountains so the weather is probably more uniform than yours but the rain comes in from the west and dumps more on the land it crosses first.

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    1. Tony just had me thinking about pink. It strikes me you can go from almost excessively saccharine pretty pink to perfect pink to harsh, strident marker pen pink and not be looking at a very different colour. Is that true of all colours?

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    1. Sue extends a warm welcome to her team. ‘Charles Colbert’ was one of a bunch of pink flowered seedlings of C. saluenensis raised by E.G. Waterhouse in 1946 in Australia. Years later, Gordon Waterhouse, who I think was his son, found a self sown seedling under one of the original plants, which flowered vivid red in 1964. It’s still around, under the name ‘Jamie’.

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    1. ‘Bob’s Tinsie’, and a few others, derive from an old Japanese variety called ‘Bokuhan’ where the petaloids in the centre of the flower are white. It’s an untidy plant with small flowers but eye catching nevertheless.

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