So disappointing


I can’t recall the last time that ‘Winter’s Interlude’ camellia flowered in my garden. It’s supposed to flower in November, or as late as December, but doesn’t, at least not regularly. I have an old photo of it flowering, but it was at least four or five years ago. Why doesn’t it bloom? I’ve no clue, the other late autumn flowering Ackerman hybrid camellias bloom dependably, but not this one.

Every year ‘Winter’s Interlude’ develops fat buds, then nothing happens. Sometimes the buds swell and I figure they’ll pop open any day, but they don’t, until this year. With this oddly warm weather the buds have been showing promise for weeks, and by mid January there was a bit of pink peaking out. A few days ago one burst into bloom, then another a day later.

But (and when you’ve waited far too long for something marvelous to happen there’s often a but), the flowers have been damaged by frost and freeze so the edges are brown. This is perfectly logical, and I suppose it should be expected that the tender blooms would be damaged by repeated temperatures below freezing. Still, it’s disappointing.

Other flowers blooming through January have not been injured, but witch hazels, mahonias, hellebores, and snowdrops typically flower in some part of the winter so that the blooms are genetically more tolerant of cold temperatures. Camellias flower through the winter months in some warmer parts of the country, but these areas rarely experience temperature fluctuations from the sixties into the lower teens, and it’s obvious to me that the flowers are too tender for this cold.

So, I’m pleased that ‘Winter’s Interlude’ has finally bloomed, but disappointed that the flowers are damaged and ugly. What to do? Give up and dig the camellia out? The more logical response would be to provide it with a sunnier location in the garden so that there would be a greater chance that it would flower when it’s supposed to. By late autumn the more southerly path of the sun gives ‘Winter’s Interlude’ only a brief glimpse of direct sunlight, so moving it could help.

But will I do it? Probably not. Where would it go, and would that be too much sun, or too little? The easier decision is to do nothing at all, but to wonder why and complain when the plump buds go to waste.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. jaykay says:

    Shame on you Dave…these flowers are NEVER ugly! They may have been injured by frost…but that’s a far distance from UGLY! We older people don’t look like we did 10 years ago…we have wrinkles and splotches…maybe damaged by winter winds and frost…but I daresay WE are ugly. Just different.
    Perhaps the next time the buds appear but before they show color, remove the stalk and bring it into the house where you can enjoy it as it opens fully, probably without frost damage!

    Ugly NO…different yes!

    1. Dave says:

      I don’t know about you, but I grow uglier every day and more than a little brown around the edges.

      I’ve never been one to cut stems to force indoors. Perhaps I should, I’m certain my wife would enjoy the flowers. I noticed the other day that the black stemmed pussy willow is starting to flower, though deer have stomped the ground to a muddy mess so I’ll have to put on the hip waders to get there. The camellia has only so many stems, and I’d hate to cut them, but there are hundreds of stems on the pussy willow, so a few less won’t be noticed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s