Plant Collector – sasanqua camellias

028Gardening is wonderfully cyclic on an annual basis. I know I have written about sasanqua camellias before but each year they flower prettily yet again. These are the Japanese camellias that light up the late autumn and early winter. There is a softness to the blooms which is in contrast to the stiffer japonicas that flower later in winter and early spring.

If you live in Auckland, it is the law to plant only Setsugekka, a big growing white sasanqua. I jest but that is the one you will see there at a ratio of about 20:1. In fact sasanquas come in all shades of pinks, bicolours and even reds as well as the fraightfully restrained whites. Going clockwise from left in the photo are: Elfin Rose, Gay Border, Bettie Patricia, Silver Dollar, Bert Jones and Crimson King. Some may no longer be available on the market but there is usually one that will look very similar.

Sasanquas can be slow to establish but left to their own devices, will make light, airy, large shrubs over time. They also clip very well so are ideal for hedging and topiary. When clipped regularly, the growth is much denser. The foliage is smaller and often darker green than many other types of camellias. Some describe them as fragrant. They have a distinctive mossy, slightly earthy sort of scent – it is one of the defining characteristics of a sasanqua.

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