Autumn flowering camellias are mostly planted to the northern, driveway side of the garden, so it is a simple matter to check each afternoon (for even with the time change it is dark when leaving for work in the morning) that the previous night’s freeze has not injured flowers. Spring flowering japonicas are planted at the garden’s more shaded southern edge, with sun that shines through the bare canopy of the forest through the winter, on the theory (unrealized) that this will be sufficient to encourage spring flowering.
No doubt, the night and the freeze will soon arrive to break this marvelous string of days when camellias have been at peak bloom, but until then each camellia will be visited daily to observe new arrivals. The blooms of the white flowering camellia, ‘Winter’s Snowman’ or ‘Snow Flurry’ (I forget which is which since they are planted beside one another, though one has glossy foliage and the other does not), have faded, though not from cold, and other buds swell that will flower in the next week so long as temperatures do not drop below the twenties at night.
The other white is one of several camellias that have not flowered to date, through buds of all show signs of color, and I am certain there will be at least some scattered flowers before winter temperatures are here to stay. A year ago, late autumn temperatures were not conducive to encouraging a simultaneous show of blooms, but with mild temperatures camellias flowered off and on through January. There is much reason for the gardener to be pleased by mild winters, but I prefer this all at once display to the scattered flowering that is more typical. Certainly, there is more to life than a grand display of camellia blooms in late November, but as the uncertainty of winter approaches, the gardener must be thankful for any small favor.
Today, I wish it wasn’t so, but I have neglected to track identities of various camellias, except for a few. ‘Winter’s Star’ is the most dependable bloomer, though one that borders the neighboring property flowers earlier and more prolifically than another that fronts the sunnier driveway. Both tall shrubs have abundant buds, but the neighbor’s view is enhanced by dozens of flowers while the camellia along the driveway often delays until mid December, or later, to display scattered flowers.
With mixed results, conclusions as to the ideal sunlight exposure for camellias have eluded me, though I generally conclude that more sun, though not full sun, is best for developing flower buds. As mentioned earlier, autumn and spring flowering camellias in the shade of the forest on the garden’s southern border flower fitfully, though slightly better since a tall maple was toppled in an ice storm several years ago. Tempting as it is, I will not remove additional maples that shade the garden just to improve flowering of camellias.