Camellias, Azaleas, Michelias, Magnolias and more – it’s spring

It is spring, it is warming up, we have had some rain. We have camellias – lots of camellias – still flowering. This is late for us. Lots of reticulatas, and walking around the garden today, there are flowers on a hundred or more japonica varieties. Tamzin Coull, a late flowerer, is loaded with flower, Adorable, Grand Slam – Margaret Davis has more flowers than it has had all season – and so many more.

The azaleas are the best we have seen in years. The dry, cool weather leading up to early flowering has been ideal, and there is very little botrytis (mushy brown flower petals). And remember, when folk say it’s ‘petal blight’, this is often incorrect – it’s ‘botrytis’ – for us anyway.

Michelias – Port Wine magnolias and Coco are flowering, giving off that intoxicating fragrance that we absolutely love. Other michelias are in flower; All Spice, Mixed Up Miss, with others still coming. This is the first season that we have seen our new magnolias flowering – Butterfies, Felix, the girls, Susan, Jane, Ricki; Vuncan, Galaxy, Black Magic, Picture, Brozzoni, s.Rustica Rubra, Elizabeth, denudata, and I’ve missed some. We have been very pleased, and pleasantly surprised, that they are doing so well – we have about twenty now and while still flowering (they have been flowering for months), some have put on 20 to 30 cm of new growth.

Fragrance from the citrus trees, full of flower and fruit. Even the osmanthus fragrans (sweet olive) are flowering, giving off their sweet fragrance. Brush past the lavender, also in flower now, the foliage giving off the lavender scent. Past the pool – time to start swimming again – the star jasmine in covered in flower and full of perfume.

What a wonderful time to be a gardener!

Nursery Open to the Public – 14 and 15 August – by request

Camellia Glen Nursery will be open again this weekend – Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 August. We have had a number of requests from people who would like to visit – so here we are.

We still have many Camellias and Magnolias in the garden still in flower, and many of the Vireya Rhododendron are coming into spring flower. We still have about 150 varieties of Camellias available for sale in varying quantities, as well as Vireya Rhododendrons. We also have a small number of Azaleas, including Kurumes, available.

Last Sunday, a bus-load of our friends from the Brisbane based Queensland Camellia Society visited our nursery. After a morning tea in the pool yard, members were able to walk the gardens, and purchase plants to add to their Camellia collections from the extensive range of varieties we have on offer. It was a great day.

Come along and visit this weekend. If you would like to visit after this weekend, we will open by appointment. Please call or email us.

Open Days – Saturday 7 August – Nursery Open to the Public – Camellias and Vireyas

Our open days have been very successful with many visitors dropping in, walking the gardens, and lots of people buying camellias and vireyas to add to their collections.

To meet demand, we are extending our open days to include this Saturday, 7 August, 8.00 am to 3.00 pm (closed Sunday), and then Saturday and Sunday, 14 and 15 August. Following those dates, we are available by appointment only.

Many of our 400-odd garden camellias are still flowering, so drop in for a look. We are out of some varieties, but we still have an extensive range available for sale. See you there.

Sasanqua 'Albert Raymond'

Camellia Care – pruning, red spider mites and other stuff

In sunny Queensland, actually it rained today – but – sasanqua camellias are all but finished flowering and are getting ready to start shooting new growth. Now is the time to prune – before that new growth starts. You can prune selectively cutting out unwanted growth – I like my camellias as more open bushes – or you can use hedging shears to give a general haircut. Remember, the new growth will shoot from the top of the cut, so it is wise to cut back thick or heavy branches to below the height you want the new growth to grow to. Do the same to japonicas when they finish flowering – but before they start to shoot away with new growth.

I have read with interest that camellias have proved themselves as very ‘water wise’, and have stood up to recent dry seasons that we have experienced right around Australia very well. We have always known this, and it is great that this message is now out there and being accepted by the gardening media and the gardening public. An established camellia bush will withstand dry periods very well. Naturally, they like a good watering when it comes.

I have also seen a comment recently about a ‘new’ camellia pest – the camellia tea mite. The camellia tea mite – also called the camellia red spider mite – has been around for some time. It likes warm dry weather, which could be why we have seen it more in the past few seasons. They cause a grey/bronze mark to the top side of the leaf, more often on japonicas, usually starting on lower branches, and if you wipe your finger along the mid-rib when the little critters are active, your finger comes away with little red streaks – from the mites you’ve squashed. These pests are not visible to the naked eye, but the pin point size mites can be seen using a 10x magnifying lens. You can treat this pest, as has been suggested, with pest oil, but this will not get rid of the mites. Using an insecticide will not work either, as these things are mites – more closely related to spiders (hence the name ‘red spider mite’) than to insects. It’s like taking antibiotics for a head cold – it’s the wrong treatment for the ailment. If the red spider mite infestation is severe and you want to treat it chemically, use a specific miticide. Check this with your garden centre or nursery. Take care when using chemicals, read and follow the instructions, only apply as directed and always use rubber gloves and a face mask so that you do not become exposed to the chemicals. Red spider mites become active as we move into the warmer months, although I visited a garden last weekend that had mites on one of the japonicas already.

Having said all that, most gardeners can cope with a few pests and the best solution is a healthy, balanced garden. Damaged leaves will not recover, they have had the chlorophyl sucked out of them, but these will eventually fall as the plant puts on new growth, or you can cut out the damaged bits. Dispose of these bits carefully. As we start seeing new growth, also watch out for aphids on new shoots (wipe them off, hose them off, or use a systemic insecticide), and loopers and caterpillars that chew at the base of new shoots.

For us in Queensland, now and over the next few weeks is a good time to start to fertilise and re-mulch. For cooler areas where the japonicas are still in mid season flower, leave this fun activity for a few weeks more. Just check the new growth buds and give the plants a feed before the shoots take off.

Get dirty in the garden this weekend!

Open Days – Open to the Public this weekend

The nursery and garden is open to the public for the next two weekends – Saturday and Sunday – 8.00am to 3.00pm.
We have had lots of visitors over the past few weekends, with some folk buying a few plants and some going home with 30 or more. A wander around the garden invariably results in a wish list of plants that we will do our best to satisfy. We are out of stock of some varieties, but there is always next season. We don’t grow them all by a long way – only 200 varieties – but this is a great opportunity to find that variety that you have been looking for.
We look forward to seeing you!

Our new web site

Thousands of people from 13 countries including NZ, USA, Ireland, England, Spain, Germany, France, Japan as well as Australia, have visited our new site since we launched 5 weeks ago. Statistics show that many of you are returning to the site and viewing lots of pages. We hope you are enjoying the photos and that the information on the ‘How to Grow’ pages are useful. Please keep in mind that this site is written to particularly cater for camellia and vireya growers in sub-tropical Queensland and environs, although most information will apply elsewhere.
We have been asked for more information regarding pruning, and we will add this soon.

Gardens and Nursery Open to the Public

The nursery and gardens are open to the public for the next 3 weekends – Saturday and Sunday – 8.00 am to 3.00 pm. That’s 17 and 18 July, 24 and 25 July, 31 July and 1 August. After that, visits are by appointment only. Please ring or email to make arrangements. Ask us about our Camellia Collections lists – from recommendations for beginners to lists of deep reds, best whites, formal double pinks, miniatures and some different ones.

Queensland Home Garden Expo – 2010 – best yet

Last weekend, Nambour Showgrounds saw the best ever Queensland Home Garden Expo with over 20,000 visitors for the 3 day event. If you missed it this year, make it a must for 2011. It is the best Garden Show in Queensland.

Camellia Glen Nursery site at Expo before the crowds arrived

Queensland Home Garden Expo – starts tomorrow – Nambour

We have just finished setting up for the 2010 Queensland Home Garden Expo in Nambour (Show Grounds) which kicks off at 8.00 am tomorrow Friday 9th July running Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This is a great show with over 300 exhibitors. Come in and see us.

A view of our site halfway through set-up

Another shot of our site - QHGE 2010

Garden and Nursery open to the public – 3rd and 4th July

Our garden and nursery will be open to the public again this weekend – Saturday and Sunday 3rd and 4th July – 8.00 am to 3.00 pm. The largest range of Camellias you are likely to find anywhere as well as an extensive range of Vireya Rhododendrons. Come and enjoy the Camellias in full flower. Hundreds of plants available for sale.