Saturday, 4 May 2013

Cup of Camellia anyone?

We have one Camellia plant in the back garden.  It was given to us as a present and I was a little worried about planting it since it can be unhappy in a limy soil of the type we have. Nevertheless it has flourished but late frosts this year meant that it failed to produce its attractive display of pink flowers.
Tea, Camellia sinensis

Camellia sinensis  has lovely white flowers with a boss of yellow stamens; we know it as tea and the family is known as the Theaceae. As far as I am aware no wild tea plants have ever been found but there is a continuing search as any specimens would increase the gene pool available to breeders. It is not fully hardy but, with climate warming now well established, tea plantations have been established in the milder parts of England, with Cornwall's Tregothnan Estate being a well-known example. 
Semi-double variety of Camellia japonica at
Canons Ashby House. 4 May, 2013

Many of the Camellia plants available for sale have completely double flowers so, from my point of view, their garden value is limited. They will attract no insects and therefore deny the the garden of a vital dimension. Nevertheless there is no denying their beauty as this semi-double variety of Camellia japonica demonstrates. It enjoys the benefit of a south-west facing wall so its flowers survived the fate of my own specimen.

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