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