Heads Up!

November 8, 2015 Camellias 004


Camellia shrubs eventually grow into small trees.

These beautifully neat, evergreen creatures hold their own in the border all year.  And then, when the days grow short, and every other tree is dropping its summer foliage, Camellias break out into hundreds of crisp, bright flowers.  Every opening bud makes us smile.


November 8, 2015 Camellias 005


And they invite us to look up to enjoy their particular beauty.  Even against a heavy grey sky; even against the living sculpture of bare limbs; Camellia flowers offer an optimistic greeting.

Old Camellias poke out over garden walls in historic Virginia neighborhoods.  They stand alongside Azaleas in our parks and botanical gardens.  They grow in churchyards and hug front porches, stalwart in their faithfulness from year to year.  Their woody limbs grow symmetrically, with strength and vigor.  Their romantic flowers can be found in many sizes and forms, but mostly in shades of pink, white, and red.


November 8, 2015 Camellias 001


A potted Camellia shrub is one of the best investments a gardener in our region can make.  For under $15.00, one can buy a lifetime of amazing beauty.  These Camellias were planted by the first owner of our garden, about 40 years ago.  And they bring us such pleasure all these years later.  Four different varieties grow side by side, and they bloom, one after another, from October until spring.

Like most woody shrubs, they are pretty self-sufficient once established.  These grow in the shade of tall deciduous trees, among a few Dogwoods, Azaleas, and a Gardenia shrub. Nothing fancy, but what a beautiful combination of congenial friends sharing this narrow strip between two driveways.  Our neighbor recently added a few Rhododendrons to the mix on his side.  So we enjoy nearly continuous blooms from October until June along our shared border.


November 8, 2015 Camellias 006


Heads up!  If you have a shady bit of land with average moisture, and you garden in Zone 7, 8, or 9; you, too, can grow Camellias.  Buy Camellia sasanqua in bloom from September through December.  Camellia japonica will come on the market, in bloom, next spring.  They require very little of the gardener, but give so much, year after year.


November 5, 2015 autumn flowers 028


Woodland Gnome 2015


About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

6 responses to “Heads Up!

  1. I think the trick is in the pruning. I always remember them as big dark blobs with about a two week window covered in flowers, which then turn to gloppy brown things on the tree before they fall to the ground in a mushy heap.

    • You have just described our Camellia japonica. The late frosts nearly always catch those buds, and they don’t perform nearly as well for us as the Camellia susanqua. They are pretty when in bloom, but the shrubs are large and dense. (Duh, maybe I should prune next summer?) We have never pruned these Camellia susanqua… but they have a very open form, similar to the Dogwoods. But yes, Rickii, the trick is in the pruning for so many of our shrubs, to keep them in bounds if nothing else.

  2. Thanks for the tip off on the autumn flowering camellias (Camellia sasanqua). They aren’t seen so much in the UK but they are now firmly on my list!!

  3. My favorite is the pink-tinged white. I love the drama of this last photo with the white flower with the stamens that match the orange autumn colors in the background. Fabulous!

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