Our friend garden designer plantswoman extraordinaire Magi Treece spotted this Camellia and observed it over time. I too had noticed it around town- always large and VERY old. Its most conspicuous trait is to produce simple single fluted ivory flowers from pink buds. Up close these 3″ wide flowers have a decadent sweet scent. Its appearance is most like the species Camellia cuspidata which is a very cold hardy species known for its fragrant white flowers. Blooms appear from December (Often as early as November) and open until the end of February. The elegant flowers are tough and it takes some serious weather to impede or even damage the flowers. Deep green leaves are long and thin and very glossy/handsome with a sharp tip. The entire plant is good looking at all times. Ancient varieties around town are upwards of 15′ tall and 3/4 as wide. I’d say it would be an 8′ x 8′ shrub in 10 years. Regular water speeds growth and assists in bud set for the following season, this is only important in summer. Excellent specimen or hedge. This is one tough and beautiful Camellia.  Dig a large hole to disturb the soil around the planting site and set the plant in the hole even with the soil horizon. Backfill, water and mulch. Magi queried Camellia Forest about this plant with no luck. I queried Nuccio’s and their best guess was that it was a form of C. cuspidata or a hybrid close with it. Either way its one of our most favorite Camellias and we have our sweet friend Magi to thank. This Camellia looks and acts very much like an evergreen Magnolia and it could be used as a smaller substitute. The flower fragrance on warm days is a bit like a Gardenia. Moderately fast growing.

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Tea, the commercial source of black tea is a fine ornamental shrub in our climate as well. Its more than welcome in autumn when the small cup shaped fragrant white flowers peek from the stems. A rounded, good looking clean shrub with leaves that are deep green with more conspicuous venation on the surface. To 8′ x 8′ in 10 years for light shade to full sun. Great on an eastern exposure. Commercial black tea is produced by the fresh tips of the plant. These then go through a process of fermentation before it is edible. See more research. Easy to grow and somewhat more open than more commonly grown Camellias. And the leaves appear more matte as well. Regular summer water for the most verdant growth. Otherwise it accepts the same conditions as any Camellia. Blooms August to November. Blooms on wood from the previous year, prune if needed after flowering.

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Brilliant flower color cast on huge semi-double flowers are but one advantage to this handsome evergreen shrub. An upright pillar shaped habit makes it a great plant for tight spots or as a hedge or screen. To 8′ tall by 3′ wide in 8 years. The enormous 5″ wide opulent flowers area a clear and ringing coral. Showy from quite a distance and the entire shrub is clad in blooms from late January to March. Glossy pointed foliage is handsome year round. Somewhat formal dense habit lends it to small gardens, structural shrub. Full sun to quite  bit of shade in rich to average soil with regular summer water for the first several seasons. Benefits greatly from a layer of mulch after planting. Tosses its spent flowers which do not cling and discolor. Excellent shrub for Japanese themed gardens. Long, period of bloom.

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Camellia x williamsii ‘Little Lavender’

Interesting, hardy, and very bloomy Camellia that enchants us with anemone style flowers with a distinct lavender cast. Upright growing shrub to 8′ tall by just 3′ wide in 7 years. Glossy foliage looks good year round. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. Regular water to establish then deep and sporadic during winter.  Excellent skinny Camellia for tight quarters. Takes quite a bit of summer drought when established. Excellent tolerance of sub-freezing wind and this upright plant would make a showy hedge or screen. Little pruning needed. Flowers shatter cleanly, never clinging and discoloring- one of the best traits of any Camellia. The lavender hue of the flowers is most pronounced in full sun. The ‘Little’ part of the name refers to the size of the adorable flowers which appear en masse February-March.

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Camellia sasanqua ‘Li’l Rose’

Obscure and stunning DWARF Sasanqua Camellia. Beginning in October and opening blooms through December and sometimes even later. Smaller stature than a standard Sasanqua. The double glistening pink flowers decorate the shrub in a dense way. To 4′ x 4′ in 8 years- but growing larger. Deep, deep green glossy leaves are pretty on this open and lax evergreen shrub. Full sun to light shade in rich to average well drained soil; light consistent summer water increases fall bloom set. Excellent and dainty espalier subject.  Very pretty blooms.

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Camellia x williamsii ‘Brigadoon’

HUGE. The flowers on this Camellia are HUGE. Semi-double pink flowers are up to 5″ across. Don’t diss pink. No other flower does pink quite like Camellias. ‘Brigadoon’ is a spectacular hybrid that blooms for the last month of winter and the first two months of spring. Clean, glossy, deep green foliage is handsome at all times on a dense growing shrub to 8′ x 4′ in 6 years. Grows about 1′ per year. Full sun to part shade to quite a bit of overhead shade so long as it isn’t oppressive. Huge amounts of buds open to these voluptuous blossom. Excellent cold hardiness enduring temperatures just right below 0ºF with no damage. Excellent resistance to subfreezing gorge wind- it would be a great windbreak to stop that arctic blast. Flowers fall completely off of the shrub never clinging and turning brown. Easy, long lived, climate adapted shrub.

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Camellia sasanqua ‘Hugh Evans’

Rare, obscure, insanely heavy blooming fall and winter blooming Camellia sasanqua. Individual flowers are not formal or stiff, instead the the petals are separated, loose and vivid pink. They appear en masse from October to January and decorate the lithe arching stems in pretty cascades of flowers. Blooms are exceptionally cold tolerant for a sasanqua enduring temperatures into the low 20’s and still remaining fresh. No bother though as a parade of buds exists to replace spoiled blooms. Full sun to quite a bit of shade- without the expense of blooming. Fast growing, vigorous open shrub that takes well to pruning in spring to encourage density- build blooming wood. Rich, to average well drained soil with light consistent summer water.  A very wild and informal appearing Camellia and we love it. Glossy deep green foliage. To 5′ x 7′ and arching. Light flower fragrance.

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Camellia x williamsii ‘Waterlily’

Extraordinary hybrid that combines all the great attributes of a Camellia with larger, more dramatic flowers and more of them, and excellent cold hardiness as well as garden adaptation. Large growing glossy evergreen shrub with fetching deep green leaves. In late January to early March- and often longer than that depending on the weather 5″ flat fully formal double clear pink flowers are stunning. You really have to see them up close to get a handle on the size and perfection of each flower. Upright growing shrub to 9′ tall by 7′ wide in 10 years. Full sun to quite a bit of shade in well drained soil that retains moisture. Light consistent summer moisture aids establishment and also increases the amount of flowers the following season.  Established plants can endure quite a bit of drought. Exceptional cold hardiness. Flowers shed cleanly- they shatter without clinging and discoloring.

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Camellia x williamsii ‘Buttermint’

Unusual, profuse and a great color for a Camellia, ‘Buttermint’ produces fully double, but small flowers that deck all the stems for months in mid-winter to spring.The flower color is elusive with warm tones of light yellow on the interior fading to a bone color farther out on the petals.  Moderately fast growing evergreen shrub to 6′ tall and 4′ wide in full sun- but not reflected heat, part shade to quite a bit of shade. Regular, consistent summer irrigation for the first few years to establish. Older plants can get by without summer irrigation- but bud set and flowering is improved with such. The flower color is aptly described by its name. Pale yellow to buff to off white as they unfurl. Flowers do not turn brown and cling when spent instead they drop cleanly so in bloom there is a uniform fresh appearance. Long lived shrub that grows about 1′ a year when young. Give it room in time. Exquisite winter blooming companion for Hellebores, Grevilleas, Iris lazica, Iris unguicularis. Small glossy deep green foliage is fetching year round. Sets many, many flower buds in autumn.

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Camellia x ‘Black Magic’

If you’ve never been to the Camellia festival at the Portland Japanese Garden in Feb/March you really wouldn’t know that there are fantastic Camellias out there (not just the raw hamburger colored doubles that you see in front of every house). We got this amazing cultivar there and we are always on the lookout for the very true reddest Camellia. This is one of those. Glossy bright green serrated leaves make a wonderful upright growing shrub to 8′ x 4′ in 7 years. In February-April semi double huge true deep red/black flowers appear- they are profuse over the whole plant. Full sun to shade in rich, well drained soil. Regular summer water to establish then a bona fide low water plant. Woodlands, Ann Amato’s garden. Wonderful color early in the season.

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