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


Camellia Glen – open Saturday 11 May 2013

We are not open Sunday – Mothers’ Day – but we are on Saturday. 8.00 am to 3.00 pm. Lots of camellias to look at and lots for sale – over 200 different varieties. The sasanquas are still in flower with the early varieties like Mikuni-ko just about finished after almost 3 months, the mid season ones in full flower and the late varieties just coming into flower.

And then the japonicas are starting to get serious – the early flowerers like Alba Plena, Arejishi, Takanini still going, Tama No Ura showing lots and lots of flowers as are Grape Soda and Carters Sunburst, and its ‘pink’ sport, Carters Sunburst Pink and I spied a couple of blooms on Mrs D.W. Davis Descanso. But then, with 300 in the garden, you’ve got to be unlucky not to see a bunch of camellias in flower at this time of the year. We should be able to pick 30 or 40 blooms for our display.

We continue to do mail order for those who can’t get to us. Just email your wish list and we will see if we can help.

The 35 new reticulatas we planted out recently are all doing well with flower buds on many and some still putting on new growth – a hangover from the crazy seasons we have had in summer and autumn.

Anyway, as the days get cooler, we will see more and more flowers. Look forward to seeing some of you tomorrow. We will be open again for the weekends 18 & 19 May and Saturday only 25 May.

Keep in mind Gardening on the Edge in Maleny over the weekend 8 & 9 June and then the Queensland Garden Expo in Nambour 5, 6 & 7 July. www.qldgardenexpo.com.au

C. Japonica Grape Soda

We also have small numbers of Vireya rhododendron available for sale as well – and there is always one of those flowering.

Vireya rhododendron Haloed Gold


Camellias for sale – sasanqua, japonica, hybrids, reticulata and species – this weekend

Just a reminder that we have over 200 different varieties of camellia available for sale and we are open this weekend starting 8.00 am and closing at 3.00 pm.

Drop in and see the sasanquas flowering and the early japonicas starting to flower.

C. japonica - Grape Soda - the bee is ours


Growing camellias – a little camellia culture

On the weekend, we had a bunch of people come to the nursery to buy a few plants for their gardens – some wanted sasanquas for hedges or screens, some just wanted a couple for the garden, and some wanted to add to their camellia collection. We enjoy meeting new people and welcoming back returning customers and taking folk about our garden and showing them what you can achieve with a garden of camellias.

One of our customers came with a list and asked for a particular variety. We selected a nice plant – but when we put on the commercial plant label, the customer said that no she wouldn’t have that one because she didn’t like the flower on the label. And that is one on the difficulties selecting plants based on the picture on the label. Whereas label manufacturers use a photo of a sample of that variety, flowers often are variable in form depending on climate, weather and even the time of the season – that is whether it is early in the camellia flowering season, mid or late.

Take these two photos of Camellia Christmas Daffodil. Both these photos
were taken by me, at different times, of flowers on the one plant that we have of this variety.

Christmas Daffodil

Christmas Daffodil - 2

Now, there is no prize for seeing why the first flower is called Christmas Daffodil with the little hose in hose flutes – remembering that this will be flowering in winter in the the USA – Christmas. It is a beautiful flower. But the second photo is also Christmas Daffodil – and it is a simple single flower with no flutes at all – and still beautiful.

The plant decides how it will flower depending on conditions at the time. Both these flowers are Christmas Daffodil but are very different. So when selecting a plant, be conscious of the fact that the plant will flower the way it wants to depending on the conditions – be patient and you will get to enjoy all the flower forms on these special plants.

Have a look at your camellias – particularly the japonicas and hybrids – and see if you have different forms of flower on your plants – the chances are that you have.

Another interesting cultivar is the camellia with the longest name – Dona Herzilia de Freitas Magalhaes – loved for the strong mauve colour that is shown in most camellia publications. This cultivar will flower this magic colour in the right conditions – clay or shale soils and a good amount of cold. In a pot, it will flower a nice pink – deep pink – anemone form flower. But it needs the nutrient from the soil to get that purple colour going. The plant will need time to get its roots into the surrounding soil in order for it to start sucking up the appropriate nutrients, so again, be patient – it might take a couple of seasons. Our plant this year is starting to purple up – after about 5 years. See the different flowers.

Dona Herzilia de Freitas Magalhaes

Dona Herzilia de Freitas Magalhaes

And this one shows some of the blooms on the competition bench at the Illawarra Camellia Society Show last July – it shows a few all purple Donas as well as a number of variegated forms. These are showing a much stronger colour than we have achieved so far – but we are getting there…..

Get out into the garden and enjoy this wonderful weather. Gardening is just so much fun…

Nursery is open again this weekend – 8.00 am to 3.00 pm Saturday and Sunday.


Camellias – growing camellias from seed

Much has been said recently about the benefit of collecting seed from your favourite camellia and growing it. Care for it for a few years – and the catch here is that this could take a fair few years – and see how it flowers. Chances are that it will flower the same as the seed parent plant – but there is also a chance that the bees have done a fantastic job of cross pollination and you will end up with a distinctly different flower – and here you have a new cultivar.

This is how a number of the cultivars that we grow and love today have come into existence, and this is the way we will get new ones in the future.

Hybridisers will do deliberate cross pollination using a particular seed parent and using the pollen from a specifically different pollen parent with the objective of the resulting new flower having the best attributes of both parents. And – bazzinga – a new and highly desirable camellia.

BUT, the observation I want to make today is about seed raising a couple of species – camellia Crapnelliana and camellia Trichocarpa.

Crapnelliana is a small tree to about 8 metres with a large single white flower with a big boss of yellow stamens – and has the largest of all the camellia seeds.

Crapnelliana seeds

We use the seeds to grow new plants as cuttings are rarely successful. The seeds fall to the ground at this time of the year – Autumn – we collect the fresh seeds which split open and collect the individual seeds from inside the thick pithy outer covering. We crack the hard covering of the seed, place in a pots ( we will put 20 or more into a community pot), cover with a shallow covering of potting mix, damp down, place in a shaded spot, keep moist, and wait a few weeks for the shoots to appear. We then prick out the new seedlings, snip the tip off the root pedicle (to promote lateral root growth), pot up, and watch them grow.

If we leave the seeds on the ground, the outer pithy husk dries up and the seeds go back into the soil as mulch.

In July last year, we visited camellia collector and hybridiser, Bob Cherry, and he graciously showed us around his garden full of camellias (and magnolias, wisterias, poppies, polyanthus and lots more) – in the hinterland just west of Sydney. The weather was cold – colder than what we left on the Sunshine Coast. There are many hundreds of camellias in his garden, certainly one of the most extensive collections of camellias in Australia. But the one I single out here is the species Trichocarpa.

Trichocarpa at Bob’s place

The seed of Trichocarpa is a large pod, somewhat smaller than that of Crapnelliana but a good tennis ball size. We collected seed with the intention of growing them on on our return to Palmwoods. Where these seeds had fallen, the ground was moist, the pithy husks were wet and crumbly (almost like peat) and the seeds sat in this environment, leaves falling onto them and partially covering them. We collected a bunch complete with the pithy outer husks and debris, whacked them into a bag and we are pleased to say that we have a few seedlings growing. I am very hopeful that these will survive, because I love this flower and the tree.

In my subsequent musings, I had a thought – these seeds were sitting in natures own seed raising mix. I thought that these seeds were being kept moist and the pithy husk provided a perfect medium for the new roots to grow into. These seeds would shoot their root into the husk, the new leaf shoot would pop up into the sunlight, and the root would continue down into the soil – and hey presto, a new tree in the little forest of Trichocarpa.

SO why is it, that back in Palmwoods, our Crapnelliana seeds fall to the ground, split – all good so far – then dry up and go hard and become mulch? Simple – we have hot wet summers and cool/cold and dry winters. When the seeds fall to the ground, the weather is dry – the seeds dry out and that is the end of the seed. It becomes just a small amount of mulch.

I happened to be in the garden yesterday – surprise – and I saw, under one of our Crapnelliana trees, a number of old seeds. Closer inspection revealed that one of these seeds had fallen into a spot where it had kept moist and a seed had in fact put a root down into the husk and a leaf shoot had grown to about 8cm. It had then dried out and died, and before I realised, the shoot broke off in my fingers. The husk that the root had gone into was moist and fibrousy and could be easily broken up with my fingers. You could still see the roots where they had grown into the husk.

Moist Crapnelliana seed - 1 year old

Crapnelliana seeds pods and old flower

I was pleased. Mother nature is a wondrous thing.

The fact is that we are growing plants in weather that is probably different to that in their native environments and we need to make allowances for that. We need to replicate as well as we can the conditions the plants need and in most cases, with our camellias, we can grow them very successfully.

Our weather is very different to that in Sydney/Melbourne with our hot wet summers and cool/cold dry winters, where southern states (in Australia that is) are ofter wetter in winter. This will mean that our flowers can dry out more quickly, so we must remember to keep a little bit of moisture to them – but not too much.

Gardening is so much fun.


Open Days and up-coming events

Well, this last weekend was our first weekend ‘open to the public’ for this season, and apart from the miserable constant rain all day Saturday, we had a great weekend. Sunday was beautiful, and a pleasure to be wandering the garden, showing folk the camellias in flower, and selling lots of plants.

We are very pleased with the range available again this year across sasanquas, japonicas, hybrids and species – including the tea camellia – camellia sinensis. We have about 200 different varieties – mostly in 140mm pots with a small quantity in 200mm pots.

Here is our ‘Open to the Public’ program and up-coming events for the next couple of months:

April 20 and 21 – nursery open to the public and garden open to wanderers

April 27 and 28 – nursery open to the public etc

May 4 and 5 – nursery open to the public, garden open to wander

May 11 – Saturday – nursery open to the public (Sunday 12 closed – Mothers Day)

May 18 and 19 – nursery open to the public etc

May 25 – Saturday – nursery open to the public (Sunday 26 closed)

June 1 and 2 – nursery open to the public

June 8 and 9 – nursery open to the public.
Also see us at Maleny Garden Club Gardening on the Edge – Maleny High School hall and also a number of open gardens to visit as well – always a great weekend for gardeners of all persuasions – 8 and 9 June.

June 15 and 16 – nursery open to the public – also Sunshine Coast Show, Nambour

June 29 – nursery open to the public (closed Sunday 30)
June 30 – Queensland Camellia Society show and bloom competition – Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens

July 4, 5 and 6 – see us at the Queensland Garden Expo, Nambour Showgrounds – best garden show in Australia – site #291 – www.qldgardenexpo.com.au

July 13 and 14 – nursery open to the public

Hope to see you..

We are still doing mail order – if you are looking for that one (or 3 ) camellias, drop us an email and ask. We don’t always have them all, but we will try.

Happy gardening

Misty morning