Before we finish camellia season for the year, I would like to introduce one of my absolute favourites. The foliage is small and dark and the branches are long and pendulous so it has a weeping habit. The tiny red buds open to masses of tiny white flowers with a deep pink flush. It is delicate in appearance and so pretty. The original plant came from Camellia Haven in Papakura (now closed) and has only ever reached a metre in height.
We are so taken by this cultivar that we have trained up about a dozen plants to a taller height, ready to plant out in our new garden. Imagine a miniature, evergreen weeping cherry and you may get a mental picture of the effect we are after with these plants.
It appears that the Chinese have reclassified this plant as a variant of another species so its correct name is Camellia lutchuensis var. minutiflora. As it is their plant and they have professional taxonomists, I am happy to accept their decision. C. lutchuensis has similar tiny foliage though much paler in colour and inclined to yellow in the sun, similar flowers though creamy white without the red and it is the most scented camellia of all. I cannot get any scent from C. minutiflora but it is superior as a garden plant.
This is a species. It can be raised from seed. If you can’t find it for sale but know of a plant somewhere, check around its base for seedlings.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.