The Camellia sasanqua, one of the favorite plants of the South and milder areas of the country, is prized for its fall bloom, graceful habit, and lovely shades of white, pink, rose and red. These evergreens have glossy dark green leaves smaller than those of Camellia japonica giving them a more refined appearance. The flowers also may be slightly smaller than C. japonica (which bloom in the spring), but they make up for it in great profusion over a long period. They have many uses including screens, hedges, foundation plantings, specimens, espaliers and containers. Camellia sasanquas should be part of every fall garden where they can be grown. Zones 7-9.
New cultivars have been developed thanks to the breeding program of Dr. William Ackerman of the U.S. National Arboretum to increase cold hardiness. If you live in Zone 6, look for the "Winter's" series of cold-hardy hybrids at your local nursery such as 'Winter's Beauty,' pink; 'Winter's Interlude,' lavender-pink; or 'Winter's Waterlily,' white, and others.
Some favorite cultivars are:
'Bonanza' is one of the deepest red Camellia sasanquas with semi-double peony shape blooms in a more compact 4-5' size.
'Hana Jiman' is one of my favorites. The name means 'boastful flower' and one can see why--not only are the semi-double blooms large, but they are dramatic with a starburst of yellow stamens--and they are fragrant to boot! They open wide and flat with a slightly crepey texture. The inner petals are white tinged with pink while the outer ones are a deeper pink at the edges.
Camellia sasanqua 'Jean May' is a lovely double soft shell pink with ruffled petals. It will become 10' x 6' at maturity.
'Maiden's Blush' blush pink single form. There is a fabulous double hedge of these backing the spectacular long perennial border at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, N.C.
'Midnight Lover' is a deep seductive red with a hint of blue in it--deeper than 'Yuletide.' Semi-double velvety ruffled petals with a center of golden stamens adds to the allure. This one at Smith-Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw, Georgia.
'Mine-No-Yuki' means 'Snow-on-the-Mountain' in Japanese and is very generous with its double white blooms. They are lovely in flower and when the blooms shatter to blanket the ground like snow. The picture is from an old shrub at the State Botanical Garden in Athens, GA which has grown tall in a very shady situation. Normally these shrubs are wide spreaders of about 3-5' with equal height. They are nice to espalier. Sometimes you will see them sold as 'White Doves.'
Camellia sasanqua 'Pink Snow' has charming blooms that look like pink sugar icing roses and open full and fluffy. A very vigorous grower and prolific bloomer that can reach 15' if not kept in check.
'Setsugekka' has large, semi-double ruffled white flowers with golden stamens. Can reach a size of 8- 10' tall and wide at maturity.
'Shishi Gashira' has rose pink flowers often paler pink in the middle of each petal. It is a smaller cultivar growing to a manageable 4' x 6' size.
'Sparkling Burgundy' is a C. sasanqua x C. hiemalis hybrid with deep rose peony form flowers with a hint of lavender. 8-15 w. x 6-10' h.
Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' has single red flowers with yellow centers. It grows is an upright manner making it ideal for accents or containers. Eventually will reach 8-10' with equal spread.
PLANT OF THE MONTH
Lycoris squamigera, or Surprise Lily