Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

The Fair Ladies of the Camellias; Valerie and Gerry Zwart Celebrate a Colourful Garden Favourite

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

The Fair Ladies of the Camellias; Valerie and Gerry Zwart Celebrate a Colourful Garden Favourite

Article excerpt

AMONG the many plants we enjoy writing about is the camellia family. It has so many wonderful varieties from which to choose and, given the right conditions (which are not difficult to find here), will provide lots of enjoyment for the grower.

Camellias are one of those groups of plants that can provide garden colour right through autumn, winter and spring annually.

And their rich-green evergreen foliage, even without the lovely flowers, is an eye-catcher when many other plants are perhaps not looking their best in winter.

The earliest-flowering forms are the C. sasanquas: delightful singles and some semi-doubles with a range of colours from white through pinks and rich red-pink flowers displaying prominent stamens. They bloom from early autumn through to the start of winter.

These are followed by the C. japonica with a broad range of flower forms ranging from single rows of petals to semi-doubles, formal doubles, rose, peony and anemone forms.

Then, of course, there's the magnificent C. reticulatas with their enormous semi-double to anemone or peony double forms in shades of pink to red flowers up to 20cm in diameter.

The latter require slightly cooler conditions, so thrive on the Blackall Range and other milder hilly areas. This is an excellent time to select camellias, as they are coming into flowering time.

Do consider these lovely evergreens for hedging or privacy screens, mixed garden beds, large tub culture near the patio or veranda, or a sloping area with some sun protection where you could grow the dwarf forms as groundcovers. There are varieties to suit your requirements.

The best advice we can give regarding planting camellias in containers is: only use good- quality potting mix - Azalea and Camellia Mix is the best.

In-ground, add well-rotted compost or animal manure to the area, ensuring it is mixed into the soil, and leave for a week or two.

Thoroughly soak the plant in its container, dig the hole only as deep as the pot, mix some controlled-release fertiliser into the soil in the base, then insert the plant, keeping the top slightly above its surrounding to provide extra-good drainage. …

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