Julia’s Japonica

Marjorie shared this picture of a lovely arrangement our friend Julia made using red (faded to pink) and white Camellia japonica blooms. Julia mentioned that the cold had turned the blossoms brown on shrubs she saw, so having these beauties before the ruinous weather got them, if a joy to see. Are C. japonica normally in bloom now or was it the spate of warm weather we have been having causing premature bloom?

Knowing little about C. japonica, online sources say it is hardy zone 7-9, which is probably one reason why we see frequent dieback, with Carroll straddling zones on some years.

The US National Aboretum’s site says: “Growing conditions can make the difference in survival rates for these great shrubs and must be chosen carefully. Camellias prefer light shade and a slightly acid, rich, well- drained soil, very similar to azaleas and rhododendrons.”  The soil in my neighborhood would definitely need a fair amount of amending toward the acid side of pH.

This additional information was intruiging: “The new cold hardy camellias are the result of breeding programs that have crossed different species together. Two exceptionally cold winters in a row, 1976 – 1977 and 1977 – 1978 took a devastating toll on the camellia collection here at the National Arboretum. Out of 956 shrubs, only a couple dozen survived. One survivor in particular, a specimen of Camellia oleifera (USDA Hardiness Zone 6) now named ‘LuShan Snow’, was utilized in the breeding program of Dr. William Ackerman to create many of these new hybrids, including the wonderful ‘Winter’ image of Camellia LuShan Snow series. All of these camellias have beautiful, lustrous, dark green evergreen leaves and an abundance of flowers in shades of white, pink, and red. With just a couple of well-chosen shrubs, it is possible to have blooms in your landscape from October through March.”

I have not seem Camellia oliefera or the Snow series offered. Have you?