Six on Saturday: Camellia Season

This is the first Camellia to bloom each year. A legacy from a previous owner, we love seeing it bloom as the dogwood turns scarlet each autumn.

Camellias greeted us just weeks after we moved into this home and garden, more than a decade ago.   We were so happy to see them bloom that first October.  We adore Camellias so much, that I have been collecting and planting them ever since.  The collection has grown a bit each year.   

It’s a joy to wander around admiring and photographing them, knowing that they return each year with very little effort on our part.  A bit of care in the first few years pays off with decades of beauty.  They keep their bright, glossy green leaves all winter, shining in the winter sun. They do require a bit of pruning and thinning. 

This is one of the first Camellias we planted. It is one of those most vulnerable to the deer, so it took it several years to really bloom well.

A neighbor asked me over to help her prune back some tall branches on a Camellia near her front porch.  I brought long handled nippers, and what was needed was a saw.  Branches had grown more than 20’ tall, and it was simply covered in buds.  The Camellia shrub had grown into a Camellia tree.  I gave her the names of some local arborists, and cut out some dead wood that I could reach without a ladder.  One must acknowledge one’s limitations.

I am truly sorry for my gardening friends whose gardens get too cold for Camellias.  Coastal Virginia has a good climate for these Asian beauties.  We don’t get too cold, though sometimes the spring bloomers get spoiled a bit by late frosts.  Maybe that is why I love the fall blooming C. sasanqua varieties the best. Ironically, last year’s seeds are ripening even as this year’s flowers bloom. I’m collecting seeds to share with friends and to try again to grow a few of my own shrubs.

Even in a late autumn, like this one, the Camellias bloom on time even as most of the leaves on deciduous trees remain green. The scarlet buckeyes have ripened and seeds are dropping. Acorns are falling, but the oaks, hickories and maples remain unchanged.

I started digging up Caladiums this week, a chore I always dread.  So often the leaves are still beautiful when it is time to bring the tubers indoors to dry them for winter storage.  I’ll be digging up Caladiums and bringing in pots of them for the next several weeks.  No need to rush these things, unless there is an imminent frost. Which doesn’t feel very likely for a while, yet.

I am also planting a lot of new ferns this month.  As I dug up Caladiums from a new shady border this week, I planted a row of ferns and spring bulbs in their place.  The ferns are hardy, evergreen wood ferns, Dryopteris labordei ‘Golden Mist,’ that have yellow-gold fronds as they emerge in the spring.  They will grow to about 2’ tall and wide and the deer won’t touch them.  I also added a Christmas fern to that bed, and another golden Dryopteris, D. wallichiana ‘Jurassic Gold.’  They should brighten up an otherwise dark spot in dry shade.

This Camellia grows behind my new bed of ferns. I planted Dryopteris erythrosora near it all those years ago, and they have matured together.

Which brings me back to Camellias, because I planted beautiful white blooming Camellias behind this new bed long enough ago that the shrubs have grown to a respectable size and have covered themselves with buds.  I enjoyed the first of their October flowers as I planted the ferns. 

There is great satisfaction when things work out in the garden.  The secret is having patience and giving things enough time to enjoy the results, when they eventually come along.

With appreciation to The Propagator, who hosts Six on Saturday each week

8 comments

    • There is an occasional colorful leaf, but the canopy remains mostly green. Later this year than I can ever remember it, too. The Liriodendron is dropping golden leaves and the dogwoods show some red. Beyond that…..? Are you getting rain from this series of storms? By the way, the palms are giving new leaves now. They look terrific!

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      • Yes, it is raining rather well right now, and should continue until morning. The family of one of the guys who works with us is staying in one of the unused cabins because his neighborhood, which burned last year, is now evacuated.

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      • I’ve been thinking of you and your team, Tony, and wondering how you were faring with this crazy weather. I hope no flooding around your home or business. This can’t be good for the trees and other landscaping. Hope all is well soon-

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      • The first rain is always big news here. It is typically light rain at first, with more significant storms later. This one was unusually significant, but not too bad. It was not all that crazy. The forest enjoys the rain after a long and dry summer. We are pleased that the fire season is over. Unfortunately, a few areas nearby were evacuated because of the concern for debris flows, but that was expected after the fires. One of they guys I work with rented one of the unused cabins for his family during the evacuation.

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      • Hi Tony, so happy to hear that things are good with you and hope the rains continue. The photos we’re seeing back here of the debris flows look pretty gnarly. We have rain beginning here again later today, and I’m grateful for every drop. Stay well-

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      • Absolutely. More people in an area always makes things more challenging. That is a constant concern here on the East Coast, too. We’re getting the rain today, watching the traffic snarl and stop, and waiting to see what the flooding and wind might do closer to the coast. And I’m grateful for every rain drop ❤ ❤ ❤

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