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.

7 thoughts on “The Camellia Volunteer

  1. Thank-you. It has to be said that it’s a sad reflection on the state of funding for public parks in Britain that this and much else is heavily dependant on volunteers. I’m happy to do it; it’s the collection I would have myself if I could afford the land to grow it on.


  2. Hallo Jim,

    what a great job you do! Are there any other gardeners to support you? I remember the steep slopes which are not easy to work on under wet conditions.
    You seem to know so many cultivars which amazes me. Best wishes Luise


    • There are three full time gardeners for the park, which is 865 acres. Sadly, but understandably, the camellias are not their top priority, other parts of the park being much more used. There are a few more volunteers, but I’m working on my own most of the time. It’s proving a great hobby in my retirement.
      I have come across the name Hody Wilson as there is a plant so labelled in the reticulata section. Unfortunately it is all sasanqua stock.


  3. Also want to ask you if you came across ‘Hody Wilson’? Florence Crowder from Louisiana has been searching a long time to add it to a park.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s