It’s all very confusing

My camellias are confused, at least the autumn blooming hybrids that flowered a bit in November, but are now beginning to bloom again in early April. This is not so unusual, though I’ll not attempt to explain the phenomena for fear that it will confirm that I’m a complete idiot.

Anyone who has followed these pages for any time period is aware that I’m totally incompetent at knowing one plant from the other in my garden. Of course I know a maple, say, from a peony, or serviceberry from Seven Sons tree. I’ve been in the garden business through four decades and I can rattle off the scientific names of plants as well as anyone. I can identify an assortment of plants by their bark, buds, blooms, or foliage, but I can’t remember which hosta or coneflower is which, and certainly I can’t recall which peonies I’ve planted.

It should be quite simple to draw a sketch of the garden and label the plants, but there are too many, and I’m poorly motivated to undertake such a project (lazy, in other words). I have a cardboard, open topped box crammed full of plant labels that have been accumulated over the years, but the box is so filled with spiders and debris that I’m afraid to go anywhere near it. Thus, I don’t know one toad lily from the other until they bloom, and really, all of this is unimportant unless you are writing about your garden, which is quite a generous description for what I do here.

In any case, back to the camellias, which are a bit too shaded by various trees so that they flower late in the autumn, November into December, when the process is often interrupted by extreme cold so that flowering stops with many buds remaining that have not opened. There have been a few winters when there has been sufficient warmth late in December or in January for flowering to resume, but this is rare and seems hardly worth mentioning. By early March the plump buds usually are lifeless, and so I presumed that would be the case this spring also.

Wrong again. The buds began to plump up in mid-March, and still I was certain they wouldn’t bloom, but a few days ago the pink began to peak through, and here they are.

The buds of the spring blooming Japanese camellias suffered some injury from the winter, which is not at all unusual since they are only marginally hardy this far west of DC, but a few are beginning to bloom. I wish I knew what their names are, but I don’t. I could research through camellia lists to compare blooms, but there are hundreds of choices. Of course, this would take time away from enjoying them, so I’ll remain blissfully ignorant, and confused, as always.

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