Best of the bunch
The blousy blooms on this flowering shrub are a sight for sore eyes in spring, providing bold splashes of colour amid lustrous green leaves. The common camellia, C. japonica, grows eventually to 9m and is best in partial shade in acid soil, so is best planted with ericaceous compost. Good varieties include ‘Elegans’, which has dark rose-pink flowers and ‘Adolphe Audusson’, which bears dark red flowers. Other good picks include a smaller shrub, C x williamsii, which grows to around 5m, producing showy white to dark pink blooms. Don’t grow them where morning sun after frost will damage the blooms.