GARDEN SHOP THREE AWARD-WINNING CAMELLIAS
Chosen by plant hunter Lark Hanham
Undoubtedly one of the most popular winter and spring shrubs, the bodacious blossoms of a camellia are a sight to behold. From October to May, these arresting, fully hardy specimens sparkle through our bleakest months. Camellias thrive in dappled shade and bring opulence, glamour and attractive scent to woodland or north-facing gardens. They require acidic well-drained soil, but if you don’t have these conditions, planting in containers is an option. Their lustrous evergreen form will provide year-round structure and interest, flowering or not. I have shortlisted three varieties of Camellia japonica with proven track records, all Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit (AGM) winners.
‘Margaret Davis’ offers something a little different. Here, voluptuous clustered blossoms appear above robust evergreen leaves in an intensely ruffled picotee formation. Not only are they informal and attractive, they offer an alluring spring scent with vivid colouration: a refreshing creamy white with raspberry red margins. Max height and spread 13ft (4m).
This beautiful variety displays neatly pinned semi-double flowers with a striking white centre and a slowly graduating pink blush to its outer petals. The perfectly arranged petals provide an elegant formality above serrated glossy evergreen leaves. It’s a good idea to plant ‘Nuccio’s Pearl’ next to a wall so that the earliest buds are sheltered. Flowers February to April. Height and spread 8ft x 6ft (2.4m x 1.8m).
Suited to the smaller garden or a pot, ‘Tom Knudsen’ makes a statement and is revered for its compact habit. The striking blossoms arrive as early as November and continue into February. Its timing makes this a great variety for adding splashes of colour when they are most needed. The peony-type flowers are a de15x6= ep, rich red and add a luxurious extravagance to any site. Height and spread 5ft x 8ft (1.5-2.4m).