WHICH CAMEL­LIA SUITS YOU

Better Homes and Gardens (Australia) - - Seasonal Splendour -

CAMEL­LIA JAPONICA

This grows into a clas­sic small tree – from 1m to 4m – that prefers shade or dap­pled light as its large, glossy, dark­green leaves can be scorched by the sun. The flow­ers can grow as big as 15cm and come in colours rang­ing from white, cream, pale to dark pink and reds with hints of orange or pur­ple – or var­ie­ga­tions of all. Petal ar­range­ments can be sin­gle, semi­dou­ble, dou­ble, or pe­ony, anemone or rose forms. Most be­gin flow­er­ing in May-june and keep bloom­ing through to Septem­ber, and many have a dusky or al­mond fra­grance. The flow­ers stay on the plant for sev­eral weeks. Use as a for­mal or in­for­mal hedge, a sin­gle spec­i­men or a fea­ture in a mixed gar­den bed. It re­sponds very well to prun­ing, tol­er­ates frosts and prefers a welldraine­d, slightly acidic soil (ph of 6.0 to 8.0).

CAMEL­LIA SASAN­QUA

This grows hap­pily and vig­or­ously from 1m to 5m in the sun to pro­duce a gen­tler, smaller fo­liage than C. japonica. The flow­ers are smaller too, rang­ing from 5cm to 9cm. They emerge in late sum­mer to mid-win­ter, but come in the same colours and pat­terns and lovely perfume. The main dif­fer­ence is the flow­ers fall off just a day or two af­ter emerg­ing from the buds, cre­at­ing that won­drously thick, soft car­pet camel­lias are fa­mous for. The fallen flow­ers are quickly re­placed. Grow as a for­mal or in­for­mal hedge, clip into a stan­dard or top­i­ary, craft into an es­palier, make it the stand-out in a mixed gar­den bed, or use it as a sin­gle spec­i­men. It re­sponds to prun­ing, tol­er­ates frosts and prefers a well-drained, slightly acidic soil (6.0 to 8.0).

CAMEL­LIA RETICULATA

This tells us win­ter is al­most over, with its lovely, big, ruf­fled petals look­ing like skirts lifted in readi­ness for danc­ing at the spring fair. It grows to about 3m but the flow­ers be­tween May and Septem­ber are huge and flam­boy­ant, get­ting up to 25cm wide, and look stun­ning against the deeply veined, leath­ery (rather than glossy), dark-green leaves. Such a spec­ta­cle comes with a de­gree of pre­cious­ness, too. It needs more sun­light than C. japonica, and prefers warmer cli­mates than both C. japonica and sasan­qua. It also needs pro­tec­tion from wind. It fills a hole with love­li­ness in tem­per­ate or semi-trop­i­cal gar­dens, but it doesn’t like prun­ing. It prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soil (6.0 to 8.0).

CAMEL­LIA SASAN­QUA

CAMEL­LIA JAPONICA

CAMEL­LIA RETICULATA

short but ever so sweet, C. sasan­qua leaves its legacy on the ground. You can pick up the freshly fallen flow­ers and float them in a bowl of wa­ter in­side.

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