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.