Friday, March 9, 2012
Yesterday I pulled into the parking lot of an abandoned office in my hometown. The property is for sale, so I felt it was okay for me to identify the giant camellia that's growing on the side of the building (actually a house converted to an office). It was Camellia japonica 'Lady Clare'. I confess that I have been driving into that parking lot for the past several months. There are some smaller plants under this monster bush, and I wanted to see what the flower looked like before I asked permission to dig. I think the "babies" are part of the original plant, rather than any kind of seedling (do named camellias produce seed?). On the other hand, to my knowledge, camellias are not stoloniferous. The one plant nearest the base did have a 'Lady Clare' bloom on it. The taller ones away from the trunk had neither flowers nor buds.
I could use some more camellias, even though it will be many years before the 20 inch high plants reach maturity. 'Lady Clare' is a very old camellia and a popular one in this part of the country. This particular plant is in blazing sun, so it has very dense foliage and is absolutely smothered with blooms.
But, the camellia pictured here is not 'Lady Clare' and has nothing to do with the above story. This is 'Taylor's Perfection', which is actually a japonica hybrid from New Zealand. Who else but Margaret Moseley put me onto it (I struggled with using a different photo of a huge cluster of blooms atop her 10 foot high shrub, but vetoed it due to bad light in the background; this is a bloom down lower on the plant).
Another amazing gardener, Rhoda Ingram, who turned 90 last year, gave me 'Taylor's Perfection' a couple of years ago. One can understand why it has "Perfection" in its name. The blooms are so lovely and the color is such a clear pink, it's hard to imagine anything prettier. The flowers are truly dazzling when they open up and are so finely formed that they appear almost artificial. The foliage is narrow and unfortunately has proved tempting to the deer. They've only bothered one side, so I'm hoping they are rejecting this as a food source.
It won't be long until the camellias are finished for the season. But just now, as I scrolled back through several dozen photographs, my heart was pounding as it does so often when I want every flower I see. This weekend, I hope I can get out to a local nursery that specializes in camellias and see what they have. On my list are: 'Magnoliaeflora' (blush pink), 'Nuccio's Gem' (white) and 'White By the Gate'. Oh, and I need 'Pink Perfection' and 'Berenice Boddy' and so many others, now that I think about it. This is going to be difficult.