One of the few flowering delights in the garden in winter are camellias. They are hardy shrubs that are well suited to the soils and climate of our region. Camellias can fulfil many roles in the garden-from a feature shrub in a shady garden bed, to ground covers, privacy hedges and even potted feature shrubs at your home or garden entrance.
Camellia sasanquas are autumn/early winter flowering and more suited to sunny or ex- posed locations than other camellia species. I have grown a two meter high hedge of the sasanqua cultivar “Jennifer Susan” which is a hardy, prolific pink flowerer. Other sasanquas I like include “Early Pearly” with double white flowers and “Yuletide” with single dark red flowers with contrasting yellow stamens. I have two bushy “Yuletides” in my current gar- den in a north facing, sunny position against a brick wall and they have dense, dark green foliage and a great cover of multiple red flowers from autumn to mid winter. Another sasanqua cultivar that I have recently be- come aware of is “Marge Miller” which is one of the few groundcover camellias-with showy double pink flowers.
Camellia japonicas prefer part sun to shady spots and have larger, glossy dark green leaves and flower a little later than sasan- quas-from mid winter to spring. There are huge numbers of cultivars available, including:
•“Roger Hall”, a compact grower with double red flowers
- “Marie Bracey” with very large, double dark pink flowers
- “Desire” with formal, symmetrical double white flowers with a pink tinge
“Emperor of Russia” and “Courtesan” have interesting variegated flowers
A new japonica hybrid “It’s Gorgeous” has large double pink flowers and another hybrid “Buttons and Bows” has prolific double, light pink flowers with darker pink margins.
Camellia reticulata is a species I am less familiar with, but I note in a recent gardening magazine that they grow taller and more tree like than japonicas and are more sun tolerant. A reticulata cultivar that caught my eye was “Black Lace”- with huge, double red flowers. Finally, a camellia with unusual shaped leaves is Camellia quercifolia “Fish Tale” which has single pink flowers.