Most of us associate Camellias with large shrubs to small trees but this is a true dwarf and it fits in very small sites.  Dwarf (slow growing) shrub with glossy green foliage and in autumn to mid-winter a constant supply of semi double rosy red flowers. To 4′ x 4′ in 10 years. Nice looking shrub that is an exceptionally heavy bloomer. This sport of  ‘Shi Shi Gashira’ which is a dark pink and very popular fall blooming Camellia. ‘Dwarf Shi shi’s ‘ flowers are closer to red than its sport parent. Full sun to very light shade. Occasional deep soaks in summer aids flower bud set.  Takes dry conditions when very established. Water regularly to establish and mulch. Sasanqua Camellias are hardier and bloom more heavily in full hot sun. Good performance at the Oregon coast where most Sasanqua Camellias languish. Not often bothered by deer. The entire floral tube detaches and falls never clinging and turning brown. Limited quantities.

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Not all Sasanqua Camellias are created equally and though they all bloom in autumn to winter some have much studier flowers that are beautiful as well. ‘Kanjiro’ is an ancient Japanese cultivar and to this day it is still one of the finest. The large double dark pink flowers are exceptionally weather tolerant and will even survive freezes into the upper 20’s. Even if flowers are spoiled by frost a seemingly never ending supply of buds replaces the flowers quickly, in fact a this is a natural phenomenon for this shrub. You often get  your best displays right after a freeze when the thaw begins. Otherwise its a non stop procession of flowers from October to December. Large growing evergreen shrub with very handsome dark foliage that is good looking year round. To 10′ tall x 10′ wide in 12 years, it  may be pruned to a much smaller size or espaliered on a wall which will  protect the flowers from the vagaries of weather. Moderately fast growing with regular summer water in full hot sun. Established shrubs are very tolerant of summer drought. Long lived. There is a light earthy fragrance to the flowers. Long long season of bloom. Very nice with Grevillea x ‘Leanne’ for a prolific blooming winter display.

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Camellia x 'Coral Delight'

Camellia x ‘Coral Delight’

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 are a 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 cuspidata ‘Magi’s Mystery’

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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Camellia x williamsii 'Waterlily'

Camellia x williamsii ‘Waterlily’

Extraordinary hybrid that combines all the great attributes of a Camellia with larger, more dramatic flowers and more of them. It also possesses 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, slightly below 0ºF. . Flowers shed cleanly- they shatter without clinging and discoloring. Excellent candidate for a large espalier. Exquisite large shrub.

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Ceanothus ‘Victoria’

This is one of the most popular shrubs in western Oregon of the last two decades. And rightfully so. This wild lilac sports excellent cold hardiness, prolific flowers, and glossy handsome evergreen foliage year round. A strong growing shrub that can literally explode in growth in rich soil but is much more restrained in poorer mediums. Remember this when planting it. It performs the best in average, un-amended soils in full sun with regular summer water for the first season to establish and then none in subsequent years. Sky blue flowers are profuse covering this dense shrub in a haze of color for 3-4 weeks in May to June. Later blooming that most other Ceanothus. This good looking shrub is so durable its made its way as  highway verge mass plantings but it is just as stellar of a garden plant as well. Cold hardy to about 5ºF- it survived -5ºF in the southern Willamette Valley in 2013 by freezing to the snow line and then vigorously re-sprouting. Durable, dependable Ceanothus. Avoid the summer heat + water that it abhors- it leaves it open to root water molds that can do it in and fairly quickly. Excellent shrub for the beginning gardener. Loved by pollinators of all kinds and is virtually rolling in bees during its fabulous bloom. NOT DEER RESISTANT. Most likely a hybrid with C. thyrsiflorus which must be responsible for at least half of its make up. Found in Victoria, Canada- hence the name. Likely it is the old cultivar ‘Skylark’ that was re-named upon its survival there of a hideous winter. The old name was forgotten and the glee of survival and discovery led to the renaming.  To be clear ‘Victoria’ and ‘Skylark’ are exactly the same thing. Very fast growing to on average 8′ x 8′. Excellent with all west coast natives. Blooms simultaneously with yellow Halimiums. A fantastic floral and cultural combination.

 

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Ceanothus ‘Blue Jeans’

One of the cold hardiest blue flowered cultivars and one of the earliest to bloom as well. An open spreading shrub with prickily deep green leaves. In March/April the whole shrub is obscured in violet blue clouds of flowers. Upon first viewing in bloom most people are shocked at how showy this evergreen shrub is.  To 7′ x 5′ in five years in any well drained soil with little to no summer water. Very adaptable to clay soils, especially on slopes- as with all Ceanothus avoid boggy sites. One of the toughest cultivars that also takes very well to pruning which should be done after blooming to increase density if needed. Blooms on wood from the previous year and the button shaped flower clusters are so profuse that they obscure the foliage.  Tolerates blasting reflected heat and is great in hot urban situations. Makes a wonderful informal hedge for wild areas but is just as at home clipped into urban scenes. Full sun. Moderately deer resistant- unusual for a Ceanothus. Cold hardy to 0ºF. The cultivar name might obliquely refer to the flower color but its an apt comparison to this tough , tough, shrub as well. No summer water. See clipped hedge below.

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Ceanothus cuneatus ssp. cuneatus ‘Adair Villiage’

This is a Willamette Valley  native form of Buckbrush found in the SW part of the Valley. This species is found historically from the Portland/Oregon City area in the Willamette Valley and  throughout the southern half of the state well into California.Small isolated populations occur in central Washington- revealing a much larger range at some point.  It has lost large areas of its northernmost natural range to development and fire suppression. It is a fire adapted species that requires disturbance to distribute. Thats a pity because this is a fantastic native shrub for hot dry sites. It is now employed by ODOT for freeway plantings and we are happy to see that. A large, angular evergreen shrub with small deep green paddle shaped leaves. In April the whole shrub is swarmed with pure white flowers.This is a beacon to all pollinators and the sweetly fragrant flowers will literally be buzzing in bloom.  Fast growing incredibly tough shrub for areas of intense drought and reflected heat. To 8′ x 8′ very quickly in any soil that does not become boggy. Excellent performance in tough urban situations. Irresistible to bees and butterflies. Associated plants in the wild are Rubus ursinus, Dodecatheon hendersonii, Iris tenax and Ranunculus occidentalis. Extremely cold hardy to below 0ºF. No summer water. Moderate deer resistance. Oregon native plant.

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Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Oregon Mist'

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ‘Oregon Mist’

Greg and I found this distinctive form of Coast Blue Blossom in the wild. This species ranges from Lane County, Oregon to Santa Barbara County, California. A fast growing seral species that follows fire and disturbance. Very near the location where we discovered this handsome small tree was to the largest Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ever discovered in 1925- it was nearly 30′ tall. This is a large and fast growing evergreen tree with copious amounts of scintillating flowers.  It has smaller deep green leaves and huge trusses of soft turquoise flowers in late April to early June. A tall growing tree/shrub that attains heights of 15′ very quickly if allowed. This drought tolerant native takes very well to pruning too- which should be done after blooming. Full sun and average well drained soil- including clay soils. Little to no summer water when established. Excellent for use as an instant screen or informal hedgerow. Pretty in the background of dry borders. Loved by bees and butterflies in bloom. Very easy to grow native evergreen shrub that should be used more. Life span 15-20 years. Oregon native plant.

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Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Rogue Sky'

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ‘Rogue Sky’

A selection of Coast Blue Blossom or Ceanothus thyrsiflorus that we made very far inland from its natural range in SW Oregon. Typically relegated to the coastal strip we found this variety more than 35 miles inland. This improves cold hardiness. A rapidly growing shrub/tree to 16′ tall and 8′ wide in 7 years. Robin’s egg blue flowers smother the whole plant in May. Extremely drought tolerant this fast grower may be either used as a cool, evergreen, native, blue flowered tree or it may be pruned aggressively after blooming to limit the size- increase density create a screen or hedge. Loved by honey bees and all pollinators in general.  No summer water once established. Excellent background tree that delights in bloom but fades to a green screen the rest of the year. Plant with other drought tolerant plants- Arctostaphylos, Cistus, etc. Grows 3′-4′ per year when established. The flowers are a soothing blue- which is hard to capture in photographs. The effect in bloom is a blue cloud. Takes partial shade and the worst soils. Oregon native plant.

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