Flowering this week: Camellia lutchuensis

Camellia lutchuensis - a triumph of refinement and style rather than bold statement

In the crowded class of camellia species with small, white, single flowers, Camellia lutchuensis has a special property which sets it apart – it has the sweetest scent of any camellia. In fact, lutchuensis is the parent of  the scented cultivars (some of which are better scented than others but few are as good as their parent). While not quite into the heady fragrance of daphnes, lutchuensis has a lovely scent which can be detected as you walk past the bush.

There is nothing blowsy or showy about this little camellia but some of us like the simple charm of the creamy white cups which, at only a couple of centimetres across, are never going to shout look at me, look at me. The buds are also very pretty. It is best viewed in close-up as opposed to a landscape statement. Added to that, the foliage (which is smaller than more common japonica camellias) goes a bit yellow in high light levels, so this is a plant for semi shade or open woodland. It is definitely for those of more refined tastes – but what would you expect from a species native to Japan, that country which reveres simplicity in nature and gardening? It also occurs naturally in Taiwan which is another island that has given us some really interesting plants across a range of genus.