Mt Edgcumbe, the next stage.

Under the tab for Mt Edgcumbe, you will find pages for some of the areas into which the National Collection of Camellias is divided. I have now posted illustrations for most of Area 1G.

The reason I started in the middle is simple enough; approaching the collection from the usual car park 1G is the first part of the collection you encounter. Almost all of the plants are big enough to be flowering freely but not so big that any have been hard pruned. Arriving with my camera, it’s the first area I plunge into and the area for which I have the nearest to a full set of images.

Inevitably this sort of scrutiny throws up some issues and some of these are quite interesting. The first bush you come to is Nuccio’s Cameo, a popular formal double, light pink in colour. Next but one to it is a bush labelled Nuccio’s Gem, which should be a white formal double but is in fact also pink. However it is not the pink of Nuccio’s Cameo, which was my first thought for a correct identity. Further over again is another bush of Nuccio’s Gem which does flower white, so is presumably correct. I must compare the foliage of the two Gems, if identical the pink could be a pink sport, though none is recorded in the Camellia Register.

 

Grand Slam, at 1G-041, is another product of Nuccio’s Nurseries. It should be a brilliant deep red and that is what half of it is. The other half is variegated. The Register does list a Grand Slam Variegated, but this bush has presumably become infected with the appropriate virus but it has not affected the whole bush, at least not yet. Perhaps it should carry two labels. Interestingly, in the spring of 2016, there was almost no white blotching on this, or indeed many of the other virus variegated varieties in the collection.

There is another variegated camellia in this area which now has a hand written label on it saying “Unknown”. It used to have a label identifying it as Ville de Nantes, but it is not that, nor a variegated form of it. I have taken many pictures of it as it has the most striking virus variegation and is hard to walk past without recording the latest variation. I am inclined to think it is Donckelaeri/Masayoshi, but I’m not sure how I will establish that beyond reasonable doubt.

It is often a straightforward matter to establish that a plant is wrongly named. The books all say a variety is a red double and what you have is a white single. Taking the label off means a visitor could search fruitlessly for a label which is not there, but what should you do? It is rarely a simple matter to identify the variety so it may be labelled correctly but the difficulty of doing so is not appreciated by most people. Most people would be oblivious to a plant being labelled incorrectly, but it still seems wrong to me to put a name on a plant unless there is a firm belief that it is correct.

 

Mt Edgcumbe, redrawing the maps

One of the more important tasks I have undertaken over the past few months is to update the maps of the collection. These are hand written and have been much amended and annotated over the years. Each section has been checked, noting where plants are missing, have been replaced or additions made. I have then scanned each map to create a digital file which I have then edited. I have then given each individual plant a unique number, nothing complicated, just its area followed by a three digit number. As appropriate, the master record, in the form of a spreadsheet, has been updated.

Area-1P-before

Much amended original of area 1P.

Area-1P-after

Revised map of area 1P

I have photographs of a large proportion of the plants in the collection but because there has been no numbering system, it will be tricky to relate photos to individual plants if there is more than one of a kind. My intention is to have a set of photos of each plant, taken over several seasons. My aim then will be to confirm the given name or identify incorrect names and if possible correct them.

 

I will put all the maps onto this site along with a layout map showing where each section is. I will also put a full list of the taxa in the collection with their locations.

The Camellia Volunteer

No, not the variety raised by Mark Jury, I refer to myself in my on-going role as a volunteer helping with the National collection at Mt Edgcumbe.

Four months on and I have not missed a week. I’d like to think that I’ve done some good too. I started out checking the various sections of the collection; finding and if necessary repositioning labels, noting the missing ones.

Working with plans that had not been updated very recently I noted any that were missing or had been replaced with different varieties. In some areas new planting had not been put onto the plans.

In some areas the plants had grown very large and we took a saw to a couple of dozen, taking them down to around four feet in height. I have since checked these and am both pleased and relieved that they all seem to be shooting from the bare stems.

I have scanned all of the plans and made such amendments as were needed using photo editing software. I have also numbered each plant in the collection and I am collating these with images of each plant’s blooms.

Using the updated list of the plants in the collection I have identified which varieties are represented by a single plant and of these, which are not in commerce and therefore very hard to replace if lost. Raising duplicates is a priority and I have so far taken cuttings of 55 varieties to this end. I have also propagated material from plants I have access to that are not in the collection.

There are a number of new acquisitions that are still in pots and these I have listed and fed. I have some varieties in pots in my own collection that I will donate as well.

At the last count, there are 865 varieties planted out in the park and a further 40 in pots. The other material mentioned adds 33 more, making 938 in total. Our aim at the moment is to get the collection up to 1000 taxa, with two or more plants of each. As far as I am concerned, that starts with not losing any of the ones already there.