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Volume 17, Issue 12
December 2019


Garden Organically
Camellias offer winter color
by Margie Lachman

You would think the garden would be ready for sleep now that it is early December, but my fall Camellia sasanquas are just beginning to bloom and the hummingbirds are happily sipping from the flowers. From November into January they are the prima donnas in the garden.

Shishi Gashira camellia

In our back garden is the first to bloom, camellia ‘Apple Blossom’, an upright grower whose large single white blossoms with a bright pink picot edge on each petal and a central burst of bright yellow stamens are beacons . They are fragrant and I can smell them from across the yard when I open the deck door on a sunny day.

In front of the house by the big picture window in the living room are two camellias with smaller but prolific bright rose red double flowers. It is called ‘Shishi Gashira’ which means ‘Lion’s head.’ Hummers dance from blossom to blossom for at least three months; it is the longest bloomer.

Next to the driveway is ‘Cleopatra’ with semi-double bright pink blooms. This has more lax limbs, just right for an espalier. Many sasanquas are fragrant and though the flowers are smaller than the japonicas of late winter/ early spring, they bloom profusely.

Typically none of my sasanquas succumb to disease as the larger flowered japonicas can, which makes them easy stars of the winter garden with a plethora of blooms. Their leaves are smaller but of the same handsome glossy evergreen as other camellias. The sasanquas tolerate more sun than japonicas, making it easier to place them in the garden if their roots are shaded with mulch. They prefer slightly acidic soil rich in humus, but want good drainage.

This is a great time of year to visit nurseries to see the shrubs in bloom and choose one that appeals to you. They can be planted now as long as the ground is not frozen.

Questions? Email me at margierose2@gmail.com or call 503-645-2994


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Published monthly by Cedar Mill News LLC
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291
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