During the autumn months, most plant species are finishing their summer displays and preparing for winter. However, one plant that delivers on a magnificent display is the Camellia. Found in the Rose and Column Gardens in the Parklands, these plants have been popular with Western gardeners for many years.
In cultivation in Northern Asia for about 300 years, horticulturists began selecting individual species for improvement. A Jesuit Missionary, Joseph Kammel, brought the Camellia to Europe in the early eighteenth century where it gained popularity and breeding of selected varieties continued.
Usually cultivated as a large shrub or small tree, Camellias also make effective screens, hedges and shrubs. There are three main types of Camellia, the most popular being the Camellia sasanqua. This Camellia is more vigorous and tolerant of less suitable conditions than Camellia japonica and Camellia reticulata. Camellias flower from autumn to early spring and come in a range of colours including white, pink, red and yellow. The flowers appear on or near the ends of branches in dusters. Another important species is Camellia sinensis, which tea can be harvested from.
Camellias are long living and moderately vigorous once established. They have shallow root systems and like to have a cover of mulch to prevent the plant from drying out and keeping soil temperature constant. Soils which have lots of organic matter such as compost and manures will ensure that Camellias thrive.
Reliable moisture is essential but most Camellias will tolerate full sun although not from the west.
Where can Camellias be seen in the Parklands?
When next in the Parklands, be sure to visit the Rose and Column gardens to see the Camellias beautiful autumn display.