Autumn’s “Rose”

Our first Camellia to bloom this autumn.

Our first Camellia to bloom this autumn.

Blossoms opening on the Camellias are a sure sign of our descent into autumn.

The blossoms on “Sasanqua” Camellias begin opening in late September and bloom through December; sometimes into January.  Just as other shrubs in the garden finish and begin to shut down for the season, these lovely evergreen shrubs burst into bloom!  A beautiful, fragrant gift as leaves rain down and frost hits the annuals.


October 25 flowers and berries 001

We are on the northern edge of the hardiness zone for Camellia Sasanqua.  They are hardy in zones 7-10.

While we can enjoy them, those just a few hours to our west can not.  Even here, they are best planted where they will enjoy morning sun and have shelter from the prevailing winter winds.

Each variety begins blooming at a slightly different point in the season.  This is a fun shrub to collect, since the season can be lengthened by choosing several varieties form early to late.

October 25 flowers and berries 002

The flowers range from pure white to deep, garnet red, with a beautiful selection of pinks and candy stripes in between.

Nove,mber 21 garden 013

Like roses, the flowers may be single or double, and are usually fragrant.

There is an air of excitement when the first blossoms open each fall in our garden.  The first owners of our garden planted several varieties near the drive.

Christmas Eve, 2013, and this lovely blossom has begun to open.

Christmas Eve, 2013, and this lovely blossom has begun to open.


We watch for them, and take great delight in enjoying whatever flowers may be blooming as we come and go.

We’ve added a few more Camellias in different parts of the garden.  Though still small, and prone to attack by deer; we know that they will soon grow tall enough and strong enough to bloom each year unmolested by the herd.

Early December 2013 found this lovely blossom opening... one of the only on this new shrub which escaped grazing deer.

Early December 2013 found this lovely blossom opening… one of the only on this new shrub which escaped grazing deer.

Camellias are an “exotic” import from Asia.  And though they aren’t native, we still enjoy them in our forest garden.

Unknown in Europe and the United States until near the end of the 19th century; these healthy and long-lived evergreen shrubs, relatives of the shrubs grown to produce tea, quickly found homes in gardens where winters are warm enough to sustain them.

October 25 garden 001

I fell in love with these “autumn roses” at an early age.   My grandmother had huge, red Camellias  in bloom beside her front porch when we visited each Christmas.


November 5 garden at dusk 001

I couldn’t understand how she managed to have flowers blooming in December.  It was only years later that I learned about Camellia Sasanqua.

And now I seem to manage to find a place for a new one (or two) every season.


October 11 2013 camellias 004

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2013-2014

More on growing Camellias

About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

7 responses to “Autumn’s “Rose”

  1. Laurin Lindsey

    You camellias are beautiful. I have 3 Sasanqua camellias in my part shade garden. They don’t bloom till December here in Houston. My favorite is the yuletide. Sasanqua camellia do a little better than the Japonicas here, those bloom in January in Houston!

    • Yuletide is such a treat at the holidays! I planted on in a pot near the front door last December, and we enjoyed it for months. It sounds like your Sasanqua season and Japonica season nearly overlap in Houston! They certainly brighten up a winter garden. Thank you for visiting Forest Garden today, Lauren. Is it still hot in Houston? Did you get any benefits from the cold front last weekend? Best wishes, WG

  2. I love camellias, but of course, they don’t grow here. Smith greenhouse has some nice ones that bloom in the winter into early spring. My favorite is the red/white striped variety, like a peppermint candy.

  3. Ooooh, so beautiful, WG. This reminds me to go out and check if there are any buds on mine. I am training mine into an espalier and may have lopped off buds in a frenzy of pruning.

    • Oh, I hope you’ll find buds, Barbara. What color is yours? I found your email, and hope to sit down today to answer (and mail your seeds). I spent Sunday in Chesterfield and finally made it to the nursery at the county line! Yesterday was a flurry, but today I’m back home with uncommitted time. What a gorgeous day! Hope you’re well, WG

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