It’s Almost Camellia Season

It’s camellia season again, almost. Some of the early sasanquas are flowering with Mikuni Ko again leading the pack followed by Sparkling Burgundy. Some japonicas are showing spot flowers as well. It is a pity that it has been, and still is, so dry, here in SE Queensland. There are other areas in Australia in deep drought and I read in the Camellias Victoria newsletter, that a lot of gardens are showing plants with heat scorching and burning.

A lot of plants in our garden that do not get water via irrigation or hose, have not put on their spring and summer growth, and now, with the few showers of rain we have had, that are shooting as well as budding.

Keep the water up and the flowers will come.

Open Days coming up in April.

Barry's Chance - a sasanqua


Camellias – What next!

Next weekend – well Thursday 28th August till Monday 2 September – we will be attending the National Congress for Camellias Australia in Melbourne, and as I understand, this is peak camellia flowering for them and we are looking forward to checking out the camellia shows being held. Interestingly, we have just walked our garden and commented that the camellias are past their best – our season is coming to an end.

Not that it’s over yet, we still have thousands of flowers out on a hundred or more shrubs. But, although our mornings and evenings are cool – well down to 4 and 6 degrees C – during the day we are having beautiful, warm to hot, dry days. It was about 23 degrees today and it has been some weeks since we have had rain. Great if you are on holidays in the best place on earth and with beaches to match, but not so good if you are a camellia. The dry air makes the flowers look sad after a few days and the plants are flat out trying to suck up enough moisture to keep them looking good.

I would love to be able to irrigate the entire gardens but we can’t.

Over the past few weeks, we have started to prune the sasanquas. These can be cut back hard at this time of the season – that’s the end of winter for us – the flowers are finished for the season and it is still a few weeks before they start to put on new growth. Cut back to shape and size. You can fertilise your plants now also, but be sure you can water them well – unless you are having or expecting rain. And by rain, I mean a good dose of rain – not a sprinkle. It is a good time to lay out new mulch. Rake over and around your bushes to mix the fertiliser into any remaining mulch – not too deep so as to disturb surface roots – but just to ensure the old mulch is not forming a barrier to any moisture getting down to the roots. Spread you new mulch over the top. Again, water it all in.

Leave the pruning of japonicas and hybrids until the flowering has finished over the coming weeks. Japonicas will start putting on new growth very quickly after finishing flowering – so long as we have had some nice rain.

Japs and hybrids will continue to flower for a while yet, and cultivars like Midnight Magic are still to hit full flower. Standouts in our garden are the NZ bred Nicky Crisp, Contemplation and Tamzin Coull, with the reticulatas in full flower and looking fantastic.

Tamzin Coull

This season, we have acquired a number of reticulatas to try in our garden. These have been purchased from a well established retail nursery who consistently sources plants from suppliers south of here. It is disappointing to find a couple of these plants flowering wrongly – well they are not really flowering wrongly – the plants are flowering just fine – they have just been incorrectly labeled. Last season, a Miss Tulare flowered a very nice formal double pink and is probably Simpatica, and this week, Sir Eric Pearce is flowering red and not the pink that Sir Eric is described as. We have other camellia fanatics who also purchased these named cultivars to have the same disappointment.

We can understand why the buying public get annoyed, confused and disillusioned when purchasing plants to find the flowers not what they expect. It was for this very reason that we started to do our own propagation for sasanquas, japonicas, hybrids and species – taking cuttings only from parent plants that are known to be correct and correctly named. We have now been very fortunate to have been given grafting material for a number of reticulatas which we know are correctly named. Thanks William…..see you in Melbourne.

Although these couple of plants have flowered not as expected, the flowers are still wonderous and beautiful and will still give us a great amount of pleasure in the years to come.

Reticulata Lady Pamela

Get out into the garden, relax and enjoy – it’s good for the soul, and the blood pressure.


Open – Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July

Just a reminder that we will be open again this weekend – 8.00 am to 3.00 pm.

We still are surprised when people say that camellias are hard to find – we have about 200 varieties and still a few thousand plants – drop in, walk the garden, buy some for your place. There are many in full flower – in fact some of the late flowerers have been really late this year with varieties like Royal Velvet and Midnight Magic just starting. Of course, the reticulatas are starting now as well and are full of flower. As are the magnolias with Felix and Brozzonni and Vulcan and Picture and Butterflies – well – you just have to come and see them.

Retic Frank Houser

Magnolia Felix

What a great place to live!


Open to the public – 13/14 July and 20/21 July 2013

What a great weekend at the Queensland Garden Expo in Nambour last weekend – fine and sunny and thousands attended. We will be open to the public on the coming two weekends, 13/14 July and 20/21 July 2013 between 8.00 am and 3.00 pm – just because we can and because lots of folk want to visit after seeing our range of camellias.

We had a great weekend, very busy selling plants and meeting people from many far-flung places as busloads of people arrived at the Expo grounds looking for particular plants which can be hard to find in their local areas. Buses came from as far north as Cairns (1700 km north) and as far south as Orange (1000 km and a bit south) with enthusiastic gardeners looking for information and plants.

Camellia species, Nitidissima, flowered well this season

Our yellow flowers from our species C. nitidissima created a lot of interest and if we had had 1000 of these plants I’m sure we could have sold them all – unfortunately, we had none! It is a species which is notoriously difficult to propagate either from cuttings, grafts or seeds – we are learning and getting better at it – and we will keep trying. This flowered the best ever in our garden this year with a strong yellow colour – we are very pleased.

The public, in general, always surprise us. The varieties of camellia that we think will be popular, and therefore take more of, are sometimes passed by, and yet others which don’t seem extraordinary are snatched up like they are the last ones in existence. Not that we’re complaining – it just makes life interesting, trying to anticipate what people may want. As we said to a number of people over the course of the weekend, if we knew what people were going to want, then of course we would bring all those varieties. And that is why we have these open days where people can come and visit, and purchase what they like.

We had a lot of interest this year in the fragrant hybrids – Fragrant Pink, Scentuous, Sweet Emily Kate, High Fragrance and a number of others – these are always popular. We also sold out of all of our variegated varieties such as Emperor of Russia Variegated, Mark Allen Variegated, Mrs Nellie Eastman, Chandleri, Carters Sunburst Pink Variegated, Grand Slam Variegated, Glenwood, Kickoff, William Bartlett and others.

William Bartlett was popular again this year

The formal doubles were popular as always with Betty Ridley, Happy Holidays, Nuccios Gem, Alba Plena, Blushing Beauty, Black Tie, Ed Combatalade and others like William Bartlett and Tamzin Coull running out on the first day and had us bringing more in for the rest of the weekend.

Added to this, we attended the inaugural ‘Gardeners & Gourmets’ dinner at the Novotel Twin Waters on Saturday night – this was great fun. A number of our celebrity speakers also attended; Costa Georgiadis, Angus Stewart, Phil Dudman, Annette McFarlane, Clair Lavander as well as many of our local speakers and of course, me.. It was a fun night and there were a few who were a little slow to start on Sunday morning!

This was a great weekend, and are looking forward to seeing many of you over the next few weekends to get the ones we did not have at the Expo.

Tamzin Coull is a favourite

Check this out…

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQLzwy8qgHc


Open to the public – Saturday 29 June

Open to the public – Saturday 29 June – 8.00 am to 3.00 pm.
We have camellias for sale – over 200 varieties – from very large flowers 15cm to miniatures to 2 cm. Camellias for big gardens and for small; for hedges and screens, specimen shrubs, for rockeries, bonsai, japanese themed gardens and pots.

Sasanquas for full sun; japonicas, hybrids and species for shade and part shade.

Hundreds of varieties to choose from and thousands of plants.

Come for a walk in the garden – check out camellia nitidissima – one of the yellow camellias – that has started to flower, or drop in to chat and buy a few camellias – or just one. No eftpos

Cheers


Open Days – Open to the Public

Today has got to be one of the most miserable days we have enjoyed for some time – cold (well for us anyway), wet and dreary. But the plants will love the rain and it is a day we don’t have to irrigate.

Notwithstanding the weather, we will be open to the public this weekend Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 June – 8.00 am to 3.00 pm.

Saturday 29 June we will be here as well, but Sunday 30 June, we will be at the Queensland Camellia Society display at the Brisbane Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens – and we will have plants for sale there. www.camelliasqld.org.au

And then, the weekend after – 5, 6, and 7 July – we will be at the Queensland Garden Expo in Nambour – Showgrounds – best garden show in Australia. Come and see us there. www.qldgardenexpo.com.au


Camellias – buy direct from grower – huge variety

What a fantastic weekend we had at the Maleny Garden Club Gardening on the Edge last weekend. Saturday was a beautiful day, Sunday not so much, but still a lot of people ventured out.

This Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 June, we will have the nursery open to the public. Come and visit, wander the gardens, check out the camellias, vireyas, the reticulata camellia buds are showing some colour and I saw some magnolias as I drove past this evening.

A few thousand camellias to choose from and over 200 varieties – japonicas for shaded/part shaded spots, sasanquas for full sun/part shade. Most in 140mm pots – nice little plants.

Camellia Culture – someone asked me the other day that if they fertilise their camellias now, will they flower more. The answer is no. Camellias are flowering now – for us – sasanquas for the past few months and the mid and late season varieties are still full of flowers, and the japonicas are flowering now and will continue for a couple of months yet. In our area, flowering is all over by late September and it is getting too warm for the flowers to cope with the heat.

The plants have been preparing for this flowering season for months – from January they start putting out flower buds waiting for the right time to flower. Once all these flowers have bloomed, that’s it for the season. They will start a new flush of growth in spring with another in summer, and then they will start budding up again in late summer ready for autumn flowering next year.

Fertilise in early spring so that you get good new growth – that gives you new branches for flower buds to form on for next year.

Get out into it, get your hands dirty and enjoy your garden.


Camellia Nursery open to the Public 1 and 2 June – camellias and vireyas for sale

8.00 am to 3.00 pm – Saturday and Sunday – we will be open again to the public. Thousands of camellias – spread over 200 different varieties – sasanquas for the sun; japonicas, hybrids, species for part shade spots. Come and visit, walk the garden – yes it is a bit wet and I haven’t been able to mow, but look at the flowers not the weeds. Then buy some beautiful camellias – and vireya rhododendrons…..

And now a little more camellia culture – pruning.
Camellias all take to being pruned and shaped. Sasanquas are used to make tall and short hedges or screens. In our garden, we have some camellias to 4 metres – but we also have some that we keep trimmed so that they stay about 1.5 to 2 metres, and others that we are keeping to less than 1 metre. So there are camellias for each different application. Talk to us about your camellia needs and we will offer you a solution.

Prune at the start of spring, after the plant has flowered but before it starts to put on new growth. It is hard to prune off new growth – psychologically at least. A trim once in spring and perhaps another later for shape – this will control your camellias. Don’t prune hard after January – mid-summer – you will cut off a lot of the flowers for next season.

Japonicas can be pruned too, just run the hedge shears over the top to keep plants to a manageable size – to the size you want.

Feed your plants in spring as well – a good camellia food will do the job. Underfeed rather than chuck on too much.

Have a good weekend – hope to see you here!


A little more Camellia Culture

With so many people buying camellias, and in response to many questions, I thought I would do a bit more on camellia culture – what to do when you get your plants home.

But firstly, we will be available – that is open to the public – on Saturday 25 May – 8.00 am to 3.00 pm; closed Sunday. Come in on Saturday, wander the garden if you like, buy some camellias and vireya rhododendrons.

All this is covered in detail in the web site culture notes but… Camellias need a well drained acid soil – pH about 6.5 is good – over 7 is probably too alkaline. You can make your soil more acid by adding sulphur. Go to your garden centre and ask – but check the pH first.

If the area is inclined to hold moisture, a raised bed is a good option – you do not want to plant in a wet spot as your camellias will get root rot and suffer – if not die.

If you are not planting out immediately, put your plants in a semi-shaded position and make sure they are watered every day or two – and not just a sprinkle, water the pot so that all the potting mix is wet. If it has dried out, put the whole pot in a bucket of water for a few minutes and wait for all the air bubbles to stop – then the pot and the roots are wet. Take out of the bucket and let the water drain out freely.

Remember that sasanquas can go in full sun, japonicas and hybrids should have part shade at least.

When planting, pick your position wisely. Dig your hole twice as deep and as wide as the pot. Loosen the surrounding soil if it is solid and compacted. This will help the new roots. Add composted material to the backfill; use rotted cow and horse manures but not chook poo or mushroom compost – these can be too alkaline. You can add a spade-full or two of gravel or coarse sandy/gravely stuff – this helps drainage. Add a SMALL amount of fertiliser if you want to – the plant should have residual fertiliser in the mix and it should not need too much. Mix it all into the backfill – don’t dump it in the bottom of the hole – that just makes a place for the water to collect and that is not what we are trying to achieve.

Tickle the roots out a bit so they can start growing out into the new soil, and not just stay in the pot shape. If the plant’s root system is solid and tending to be pot bound, then rake out the roots with a 3 pronged cultivator or similar and get those roots a bit loose. Try not to break off too many. If you have to do this, give the roots a soak in a seaweed solution to help recovery.

Plant your new camellia in the hole, make sure that the top of the root ball is a little proud of the surrounding soil ie it is a bit higher than the surrounding soil after you used all the well mixed backfill and firmed it in.

Water the plant in well. You can add seaweed solution to the watering-in water.

Mulch well to a depth of 5 to 10 cm – this helps suppress weeds, keeps moisture in and keeps the soil insulated from extremes in temperatures. Stake young plants to help get them started – don’t tie them in too tightly and loosen and finally remove the tie so it does not strangle the plant.

Water in at least once a week (unless you have had at least 10mm of rain). Watch for flowers if the plant has buds. The plant is dormant now and will not put on growth ’till spring – japonicas first then sasanquas – for us about August September. Then watch for aphids on the new growth – wipe or hose them off or use a systemic insecticide as per directions.

Sit back and enjoy.

One of our Flower Girl seedlings - 'Alice'


What a difference a week makes!

What a difference a week makes. We are open to the public again this weekend – Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 May – 8.00 am to 3.00 pm.

Last weekend, we were open; the sasanquas were still flowering well and we had a nice bunch of japonicas – but today as I was mowing – wow – the japonicas have decided to party! Still lots of sasanquas in full flower – the early ones starting to finish but still lots of colour for a few weeks yet – and the early japonicas like Arejishi, Alba Plena which we have mentioned in earlier blogs and Takanini with its dark burgundy flowers have been joined by a hundred or more more.

Drama Girl, a favourite for many and Easter Morn, which rarely flowers for Easter, are among the many to have their first flowers for the season.

Drama Girl

Easter Morn

We have lots of plants to sell; sasanquas, japonicas, hybrids, miniatures, fragrant ones, a small number of small reticulatas – but about 200 different varieties and a few thousand plants. We also have a nice range of vireya rhododendron, not huge numbers but a few varieties that are a bit different and a few of the oldies but goodies.

Come for a drive, wander the garden – just ignore the weeds – I do – so much to do and so little time – and have a look at these beautiful flowers as they come into their flowering season.

Camellia culture – we assume sometimes that most folk know about camellias, which ones to choose for where etc. But of course, we all need to be reminded every now and then. So…

Sasanquas – the sun camellias – flower earliest starting in February (Australia) – late summer and then into autumn. All sasanquas take full sun and in our view, perform best in a full sun position. They will grow and flower in a part shade position, but their strong suit is their sun hardiness. They have smaller leaves than the japonicas, flower profusely with the flowers shattering leaving a carpet of petals around the bush. When flowering is finished – early winter – around June for us here on the Sunshine Coast – sasanquas can be trimmed, pruned, and shaped. They take to being pruned very well and make the best hedges and screens.

Treated like sasanquas, but really vernalis which is a bit of a sas/jap cross – Star Above Star, Egao, and one of my favourites, Shibori Egao, the variegated one, also handle full sun, have a flower that hangs on the bush (better that the sasanquas and a bit more like the japonicas) and flowers later than the sas and earlier than japs. Great garden plants and can also be used for screening – and great flowers.

Japonicas – bigger leaves, dark glossy green, flowers start – well now – from April and continue through to August – that’s all through winter – and have the most beautiful range of flower colours, forms, size and blooms can last for days in a float bowl or on the bush. By August/September, our weather has warmed up and the sun quite strong so later flowering japonicas just do not suit us. Of course, this is a different story in cooler areas where the season can be quite a bit longer. Japonicas need part shade – our sun in SE Queensland is still strong enough to burn blooms – particularly the early morning sun on the dew on the flowers – and particularly on formal double flowers. Arejishi seems to be one of the exceptions, and there are others, that are not so bothered by the sun. A rule of thumb is that most reds handle more sun with the whites needing more shade.

There are more notes in the web site under ‘Camellia Care and Culture Notes’.

Get your hands dirty this weekend – plant a plant – better, plant a camellia…. and enjoy.

Alba Plena with froggie

Vireya Rhododendron - Ivory Coast