Saturday, 2 April 2016

"C" is for Camellia.

The first "C" must be Camellia, very much in my interest zone being an Asiatic although now grown world wide and also remember the genus which gives us tea. I have to say it is also susceptible to the dreaded Cushion Scale which I am afraid I am now completely obsessed with. Another little problem is how do you pronounce the word?  The standard pronunciation is along the lines of kam-ee-lia, fair enough, but the likes of the wonderful Geoffrey Smith always pronounced it Kam-el-ia which as the word has a double "L" I must admit seems more logical. I don't have many but here are a few of mine.

Camellia japonica 'Mark Alan'

Camellia japonica 'Mark Alan'.
Camellias are typical Asiatic woodlanders which like moist rich tree litter in preferably dappled light shade to grow them well. In my experience, you  need to incorporate that dreaded peat in the mixture. I have to say that despite everything there are no signs of peat being phased out, unless you listen to the likes of Monty Don, nor should there be.

Camellia japonica unknown cultivar.

Camellia japonica unknown cultivar.
This white Camellia has been overshadowed and starved of water by a couple of conifers which I removed a few years ago, after staging a come-back it was covered in flower last year. This year not one in sight! Camellias are well known for not developing flower buds if they are short of water at the back end of the summer and last year although most of the summer was wet the late summer and early autumn were the best part of the year and it was dry which is all I can put the lack of flower down to.

Camellia japonica 'Adolphe Audusson'

Camellia japonica 'Adolphe Audusson'
 Being a fairly slow growing plant Camellias tend to be relatively quite expensive to buy although they are not the most  expensive of the slower growers. Propagation is from taking cuttings at most stages of growth including layering, although I have always wanted to grow them from my own seed and last year had some lovely plump seed pods develop and after waiting over six months for them to ripen found them empty of seed!
 
Camellia japonica unknown cultivar.
Camellia 'C F Coates' (Scotland)
Why include a picture of a Camellia with no flowers? Unfortunately this one only had one or two extremely degraded flowers left when I came across it but if you look carefully the end of the leaf is split and this is one of the rare "Fishtail Camellias".   

14 comments:

  1. I've always found cuttings really tricky, but did manage to get 12 last year. Mind you, at current rate of progress it'll be decades before I get even garden centre sized plants. I can see why they're expensive.

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    1. You are being modest rd having 12 successes, some forms seem to grow much quicker than others, worth the wait though.

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  2. You might not have many but you've a lovely collection of Camellias Rick. I am particularly impressed with C. japonica Mark Alan. It's a stunner. I've never heard of a fishtail Camellia before now, thanks for enlightening me.

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    1. Thanks Angie, the fishtails full name is Camellia × williamsii 'C.F.Coates' which is a cross between C. saluenensis and P.japonica getting its fishtail from the japonica side of its parentage which must have produced C. japonica 'Kingyo-tsubaki' from Japan but I am not a botanist so don't know for sure.

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  3. They are beautiful. Too bad I can't grow them.

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    1. Thanks Jason, what is the problem you have with them?

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    2. Zone 5, I don't think there are any that are hardy this far north.

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    3. It's amazing what you learn when talking to people on other continents, I have always thought of Camellias as being perfectly hardy and when I look it up there are only a handful of cultivars which will tolerate even zone 6.

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  4. Unfortunately people tend to believe media stars rather than sensible people such as.yourself Rick. Keep on telling us about the merits of peat and that using it is not a sin!

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  5. Rick, I have felt much less guilty using peat based compost since being in touch with your good self.
    Last year I was so pleased at how our young Camellias bloomed, this year is seriously disappointing. I knew they liked a lot of water, perhaps I didn't look after them so well in late Summer.

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  6. They do seem to be a bit unpredictable, based on our weather patterns Alistair, although perhaps young ones may be more vulnerable.

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  7. Nice to see your collection of camellias Rick, I love camellias and at this time of year I am particularly sad that I had to leave the huge, mature camellia I had in my previous garden. It was probably 50-60 years old so would not have been possible to take with me. I have started a new collection and have 4 babies on the go. They will all have to live permanently in containers as the soil here is sadly absolutely horrible with mostly clay. I so miss the lovely soil I had where I lived before. But I have hopefully chosen the right type of camellias so they should be happy in containers for years to come, and I will sink the containers in the ground to preserve moisture and mulch the bed with pine bark. In 10-15 years’ time that bed will hopefully resemble what I left in my previous garden – I hope!

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    1. Thanks Helene, I hope your camellias come on quickly for you at least they do flower when quite small. Perhaps you will be tempted to plant them out in the open ground when they have become well established in their containers.

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