I'm what you would call a collector, with over 700 species and/or varieties of flowering plants in my humble garden. I'm always keeping my eye open for new and unusual plants, even if that means leaving them in pots. Sometimes however you come back to the tried and true and 2011 was the year I discovered the joys of camellias. I already had a well established C. Silver Waves in my garden but then I came across a fabulous new one called Black Magic (which I did a column on). Sporting blood red flowers of a waxy feel, it's definitely one of the stars of my garden. Then I discoverd Camellia reticulata hybrids, which feature unusually large flowers, often with wavy-edged petals, which is the case with my C. Frank Hauser and its luscious pink blooms. Both are in bloom now.
I have since branched out and added a small flowering charmer called Buttermint, one called Little Babe variegated, a semi-dwarf that features variegated pink & white flowers and Jury's Yellow, whose calling card is a buttery yellow interior.
What's great about camellias is that generally they are the toughest of the four main shade shrubs (azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas and camellias), with very little that goes after them. They can take the most shade of the four, though ideally they prefer morning sun, and can tough out different kinds of soils.
So, count me as a camellia convert. Now, where do I find room to situate them all?