Garden lore

“Now us the time to thin out the carrots…” (is) an observation which always makes me come out in a cold sweat, when I read it in a London paper. As though the earth were hardening, minute by minute, so that one must rush up to the country and do things before it is too late.”

Down the Garden Path by Beverley Nichols, (1932).

Camellia sasanqua Crimson King

Camellia sasanqua Crimson King

Autumn flowering sasanqua camellias
Most of the early camellias just coming into bloom now are sasanquas. Not snackwas, sankwas or other variants. Nor are they all white and called Setsugekka, as rather a lot of novice gardeners used to think.

Sasanquas come from Japan (most of the other types of camellias are Chinese) and are small woodland trees in their native habitat. They generally have smaller, darker leaves which is why they clip so well to hedges as well as being tolerant of full sun and wind. Being somewhat slower to get away as nursery plants, you may find plants for sale are a little smaller and more spindly than their stronger growing japonica cousins but they make up for it when planted out. While often described as scented, it is a mossy sort of scent rather than sweet perfume.

The big plus for sasanquas now is that they are generally free from petal blight which is decimating the flowering displays of many other camellias. Petal blight is what turns lovely camellia blooms splotchy and brown almost overnight. I hedge my bets.

We have never seen it on a sasanqua camellia here and we have been looking since seeing reports on the internet that it can attack them. As far as we are concerned they don’t get it in our conditions so we enjoy the full floral display through autumn into winter. If you don’t want a clipped hedge or a topiary shape, sasanquas can make graceful, light airy trees to about 3 metres over time.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.