Open Days; Camellias; Vireyas

It is the 2nd of April, Camellia season is just around the corner here in sunny Queensland, and yes, that’s in Australia. Vireya rhododendron have been flowering beautifully after the rain and will continue throughout the year as they do.

The early flowering sasanquas camellias started seriously a few weeks ago, and because of the somewhat unseasonal hot weather, the flowers have struggled in the 27 to 29 degree C. heat. We have had showers for the past week and they are enjoying the cooler change – it’s only 24 today. Little Pearl, Pure Silk, Jennifer Susan, Sparkling Burgundy, Bonanza and Mikuni Ko (two of the earliest for us), to name a few, are all beautiful, filling the air with their sweet scent.

Early flowering japonicas like Arejishi, Takanini, Alba Plena and Little Man, are in flower, bringing colour throughout the garden.

The sasanquas will continue for some weeks with the later ones like Bert Jones flowering until June, and many spot flowering throughout the season. Some may think that this us an early close to our season, but we have had flowers on the early sasanquas since January.

Japonicas will come in to flower over the next few weeks and will continue through to August. For us, anything flowering after this and into September is too late – it is getting hot again, and the flowers start to suffer.

Our season has been a little crazy over the past 5 or 6 months. Many japonicas continued to flower very late- in to December. This changed the usual ‘new growth’ pattern which happens September and December here. Instead we had flowers. Walking the garden now, some japonicas are still putting on new growth, and developing flower buds at the same time. We put this down to the exceptional rain events that we have experienced.

But is is all good, the plants will do what they need to do according to the season, and they will still be beautiful.

We will start our open days next week. See the dates in the next entry.

Camellia culture, grafts, cuttings, and more

A couple of weeks ago, we said that this was a good time to start pruning sasanquas. Well, we still haven’t got to that yet – but it is still a good time to be going it – before the new growth gets going.

We have been doing some grafting. We need information, assistance, tips, whatever, from anyone who has done, or is doing camellia grafts – specifically reticulatas – on a commercial basis. Some people we have spoken with have been very helpful – thanks – and some have not. We will keep trying, because we are constantly being asked for more retics, and supply is short. We are eagerly waiting to see the results. We have had failures, but we will have successes. If anyone is interested, please contact us. At this stage , the numbers we plan to do will be small, but it will, hopefully, make some of these varieties more readily available to the gardening public. We will continue to grow many from cuttings – the ones that we know are successful that way.

We are propagating C. sinensis (tea camellia) from seed, and have been for a number of years. This has been very successful until the last couple of years, when much of the seed has been not viable. Seeds form on the bush, but when ripe, some are watery inside. Anyone have any ideas why? The plants are growing well (we have made lots of tea), have flowered and seeded heavily. We are assuming a deficiency of some kind.

We still have lots of 140mm pots available for sale. We are available by appointment. Contact us. Any plants left will be either held over to next year (for the slower growers) or potted on.

Last December’s cuttings are well into being potted up to 140mm pots, and some – all japonicas – are starting to put on new growth. The sasanquas start putting on new growth later. These will all become next season’s plants.
We start taking new camellia cuttings again in December – that’s for 2012’s plants.

What a great time of the year to be a gardener!

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