This is the time of year when camellias, the workhorses of my Zone 9 winter garden, get their moment in the sun (so to speak).
I haven’t always liked camellias, but over the years one of my favorite gardening friends has convinced me of their reliable winter beauty.
As I look around my garden, I have to laugh as it seems she’s been very persuasive. I have dozens of varieties in my garden and am so thankful that I do! When its cold and rainy outside I can’t deny I’m happy for these bright spots of color in my garden!
One of my very favorites is my camellia sinensis. It grows near my front door and is covered with teeny-tiny white flowers for months at a time. Apparently its young leaves can be processed for a source of tea, hence its common name ‘tea plant’.
Another must-have is camellia ‘Scentsation‘, one of the few varieties that actually has a scent (other than the traditional earthy beet-like smell).
I like to pick a flower and float it in a shallow bowl of water, enjoying its perfume and color for several days.
Camellia ‘Apple Blossom‘ is another beauty, and flanks the other side of my front door.
Don’t forget that all camellias need a few hours of sun in order to bloom. I have so many people who call me wondering why theirs never gives them flowers, and the answer is almost always because its planted in the deep shade.
The soft, pearly pink of the ’Magnoliaeflora‘ camellia is so elegant, especially combined with the deep, dark green leaves.
There’s 2 main types of camellias: Japonicas (big and hulky – the kind our grandmothers grew) and Sasanquas (lighter, more vine-y habit and can take more sun). This is a Japonica, as is the ‘Debutante‘ above. The rest of mine are Sasanquas.
I think my favorite of all is Camellia ‘Setsugekka‘. It’s a vining, airy variety that kicks out the flowers for months on end, starting in late fall.
I’ll even get flowers in the summer – go figure! And its frilly, bright white flowers really brighten up darker spots in the garden.
I’m curious – what are some of your favorites?