Presentation Area.

Presentation-area-2
The Presentation Area was the first part of the collection to be planted and is the last part to receive my attention. It was planted, or at least started, on 7th April 1976, so it will soon be 44 years old. I don’t have a definitive list of what was planted initially but the impression I get is that almost all of the plants there now are originals.

I didn’t have a plan of the area so have drawn a new one which I will put in the page for the section in due course. It is in the formal gardens, backing onto the recently created apiary. It is not a big area, being roughly 30m long by 5m wide, and contains 67 plants. That works out at an average of 1.5m spacing, which must have seemed quite adequate at the time but looks very crowded now.

It later transpired that they had homed in on almost the only outcrop of limestone in the county of Cornwall on which to locate the planting, perhaps accounting for the modest growth the plants have made. It is perhaps surprising that they have done as well as they have and have survived so long.

The planting was done as part of the International Camellia Society’s conference program in 1976 and in his write-up of this part of it in the ICS bulletin of November 1976, Robin Miller has this to say:

“We attended the ceremonial plantings, a pleasantly international affair with spades wielded by Milton Brown from the U.S.A., Monsieur Andre Baumann from France, Lady Mount Edgcumbe, William Kemp for the Middle Georgia Camellia Society, Les Jury from
New Zealand, the Chairman of Cornwall County Council and the Joint Park
Committee, the deputy Lord Mayor of Plymouth and, most appropriately of all, by
David Trehane himself, planting one of a group of Camellia ‘E. G. Waterhouse'”

In a further piece in the same publication, David Trehane adds:

“Lady Mount Edgcumbe planted ‘Inspiration’ (the planting being her idea!); the
Chairman of the Parks Committee planted’ Anticipation’ (for obvious reasons); the
Deputy Lord Mayor chose ‘Plymouth Beauty’; the Chairman of the Cornwall County
Council a ‘J. C. Williams’; Milton Brown (U .S.A.) a ‘Little Lavender’; Bill Kemp (for
the American and the Middle Georgia Camellia Societies) a row of ‘Brigadoon’; and
Les Jury (New Zealand) a ‘Grand Jury’.”

There’s a grainy black and white photograph showing a number of white haired gentlemen in smart attire, wielding shiny stainless steel spades to plant what look to be good sized camellias in full flower. 1976 suddenly seems a very long time ago. I remember it well enough for the hot summer and drought, a portent of things to come, though we didn’t realise that at the time.

Some of the plants have engraved labels, some have pencil written tie-on labels, some have no labels. My first task is to verify the accuracy of the labelled plants and to try to identify the rest. This will entail frequent visits through the flowering season, taking photographs and checking the identity against the name. As an overall picture emerges I shall put a set of pictures on the section page.

There are two reasons I have put off tackling this section; firstly, it is a long way away from the main collection and secondly, if I’m honest, the varieties in it are not very interesting. Most are early x williamsii varieties, nice enough but in hindsight, way too many similar varieties were named. ‘Donation’ (1941) and ‘Anticipation’ (1962) would have represented a foretaste of how much more potential the meeting of japonica and saluenensis had.
Presentation-area

 

Notes from the park -31/12/2019

Last day of the year and I thought I’d take advantage of a dry forecast to go and see what was happening. There was plenty to see.

Star of the show, as she is every year around this time, is ‘Show Girl’ in the species section. It is one of three in the collection and reliably the best.
Show-Girl-16
Show-Girl-17

It was a very gloomy day with a little drizzle and she just blazed out in defiance. To the left of her in the wide picture you can just make out the small, vivid pink blooms of ‘Kanjiro’. In spite of that looking as good as I’ve seen it, you can barely see it. It just underlines how good ‘Show Girl’ is. The blooms are nearly six inches across.
Show-Girl-18

In my last blog on November 18th, I was telling the tale of acquiring and planting Camellia ‘Yoimachi’. It’s only a short distance away from ‘Show Girl’. I’m pleased to say it seems to have settled in exceptionally well and is flowering as if nothing had happened. The vivid pink behind it is ‘Shishigashira’.
Yoimachi-5Yoimachi-4

As mentioned above, the variety ‘Kanjiro’, of which there are two in this area, is flowering well, as is the single plant of ‘Hiryû’. The name ‘Hiryû’ was invalidly used for ‘Kanjiro’ in Australia, an error that shouldn’t have spilled over to the UK, but maybe has. I compared the two varieties today and could see no difference between them, in flower or foliage. The two plants of ‘Kanjiro’ are a bit more upright but that could be because they are in a less shaded spot. Assuming they are the same, I now need to work out which name is correct. ‘Hiryû’ is given as x vernalis, ‘Kanjiro’ as hiemalis, which would suggest there should be an obvious difference between them.
Kanjiro-2

However, x vernalis is a hybrid between sasanqua and japonica and has given rise to a rather diverse group of cultivars. Hiemalis is given species status by some botanists but is almost certainly another sasanqua x japonica hybrid group, and just for good measure, Camellia sasanqua, the species, has small white flowers and it is likely that most of the designated cultivars of it that are in cultivation are again hybrids.

One variety flowering down in Japanese section 3C is definitely attributable to x vernalis, in that I am convinced that in spite of it being labelled C. pitardii, it is in fact C. x vernalis ‘Ginryû’. See my blog from February 2018.
Ginryu

Then there were the rest. Here’s a montage, by no means exhaustive.

Row 1: ‘Lily Pons’, ‘St Ewe’, ‘Cornish Snow’, ‘Inspiration’, ‘Winton’.
Row 2: ‘Chatsworth Belle’, ‘Kewpie Doll’, ‘Paradise Glow’, ‘Mabel Blackwell, ‘Peter Betteley’.
Row 3: ‘Winter’s Snowman’, ‘John Pickthorne’, ‘Little Bit Red’, ‘Scented Red’, grijsii.
Row 4: ‘Peter Betteley’, ‘Nobilissima’, ‘Flower Girl’, ‘Bonanza’, ‘Winter’s Toughie’.
Row 5: ‘Elizabeth Dowd’, ‘Merry Christmas’, ‘Gay Sue’, ‘Little Lavender’, Tinker Toy’.

 

A new addition.

Yoimachi-1
A few days ago I found myself reading a 1982 article by Dr Clifford Parks about hybrids of Camellia sasanqua. I was looking up the background to C. ‘Snow Flurry’, an Ackerman cross with C. oleifera, one he was to repeat many times.

Perhaps the most interesting cross that Parks mentioned was one he made himself with Camellia fraterna, the other parent being C. sasanqua ‘Narumigata’. He had named it ‘Yoi Machi’ and described it as “a fine textured shrub with very delicate flowers”. It seems to have become ‘Yoimachi’ in the Camellia register.

Yoimachi-3
It reminded me that I knew where there was one growing, and effectively abandoned. I am very pleased to say that it is abandoned no more, having today been dug up and transported to Mt Edgcumbe where it has been planted in the species section, Area 10.
The pictures above are of it in its previous quarters in February 2017.

Yoimachi-2

A good proportion of the plants in Area 10 are forms of Camellia sasanqua or the closely related C. hiemalis. There are around 20 mostly large bushes flowering there right now and looking ethereally beautiful in the low light of autumn.

sasanquas-4

Top row: ‘Paradise Hilda’, ‘Plantation Pink’, ‘Sparkling Burgundy’.
Middle Row: sport of ‘Hugh Evans’, Paradise Glow’, ‘Rainbow’.
Bottom Row: ‘Hugh Evans’, ‘Navajo’, ‘Dazzler’.

Notes from the park 21/10/2019

I popped up the park this morning with a few plants in the car. One was a large Agave which has become too big to keep lugging into the greenhouse for winter. They’re going to plant it in the park; they hardly ever get frost, being right by the sea.

Also on board was a camellia that I raised some years ago from seed of Camellia reticulata ‘Mary Williams’, a plant in the reticulata section that usually produces a good number of seed pods. I sowed quite a number and was amazed to have many of them blooming at less than two years old. I discarded the singles, kept the doubles and then selected three that showed promise. Today I took one back to the park. I call it ‘Serendipity’, though the name has not been registered. The plant is about five feet tall and was in a 20 litre pot, so it should be big enough to survive life in the big wide world. It has large pink semi-double flowers that have something of x williamsii about them, though the leaves are pure reticulata. ‘Mary Williams’ flowers very early so there will not have been any other reticulatas in bloom at the time so the nearest camellias in flower at the same time are some way off.
Serendipity

On the subject of raising Camellias from seed, I noticed today that C. ‘Admiral Spry’ had a good crop of pods on it. This is a bicolored single that is in one of the English sections. It has irregularly pink and white striped flowers with a few all white and all pink blooms as well. Since the genetics that underpins this is not chimaeral, I am wondering whether the bicolored character would come through in its seedlings. I shall certainly be giving it a try. Most of the seed pods are green with some red striping, which struck me as encouraging.Admiral-Spry-2

I had a wide angle lens on the camera, geared up to take a few floral close ups and maybe the odd view. As it turned out, my first photo opportunity was a fox standing on the path a hundred yards or so away. It had its back to me so I tried to creep a bit closer but it almost certainly saw me before I saw it. It’s a rubbish picture but here it is anyway.
fox

 

Sasanqua season 2019 – 2

Is it the right time to go up to the park to see the sasanquas? Well, no, not quite yet. I found eight varieties in flower today but most only just beginning with a handful of blooms. Give it another three or four weeks.

sasanquas-1

Here are the first four, clockwise from top left ‘Hugh Evans’ (1G-046), ‘Tanya’ (1G-110), ‘New Dawn’ (5A-050) and ‘Rainbow’ (10-075). Cropping the pictures makes the flowers all look the same size but ‘Tanya’ and ‘New Dawn’ are small at 3-4cm across, ‘Hugh Evans’ and ‘Rainbow’ about twice that. Poor old ‘Rainbow’ now has a large tree trunk lying alongside it, a beech tree that fell down earlier this year and is unlikely to be removed. The increased light levels will be very much to the liking of ‘Rainbow’ and the other camellias around, most of them sasanqua forms.

Further down in section 10 I found myself revisiting an old conundrum. ‘Narumigata’ (10-034) turned out to be two different camellias planted together. ‘Narumigata’ isn’t in flower yet but the other one, 10-078, is. It is very like ‘Rainbow’ in flower but the leaf is quite different, narrower and more pointed. There’s a plant of ‘Rainbow’ growing beside it and side by side the differences are obvious enough.

sasanquas-2

Top row is ‘Rainbow’ (10-047), bottom row the unknown variety. There are several single white sasanqua varieties that it could be and it would be nice to be able to put a name to it with high confidence.

Section 10 is known as the species section but about half of what is in it is sasanqua varieties. Hugh Evans and Plantation Pink are among the first to open and are starting to look good now.

sasanquas-3

Clockwise from top left, ‘Hugh Evans’ (10-022) consistently has the most and the largest blooms for the variety out of the five plants of it in the park. I put that down to it growing in the most suitable conditions, moist soil and a good bit of sunshine; ‘Plantation Pink’ (10-044) is one of two in this section, both good; ‘Setsugekka’ (3C-027) is in the Japanese section in the lower Amphitheatre and a little further down still in section 1L is ‘Snow Flurry’ (1L-040). This last plant is one of a number of William Ackerman’s hybrids along the back of section L and until a couple of years ago it was in the deep shade of a mature Beech tree. It is no longer, the tree having fallen. The transformation of ‘Snow Flurry’ and its neighbour ‘Winter’s Rose’ (1L-055) could not be more striking. From appearing barely worth growing for lack of bloom they have turned into some of the most floriferous winter flowerers in the park. Here’s a picture of ‘Snow Flurry’ that shows how much bud it has. The Red Admiral was enjoying it too.

Snow-Flurry-9

Snow-Flurry-10

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Sasanqua season 2019

I had got it into my head that in previous years the first sasanquas had appeared towards the end of October so when I saw the first flowers today I thought it was an exceptionally early season. As it turns out, I have posted articles about the earliest blooms on 11th October in 2018 and 2017 and in both cases several varieties were flowering. Just one was today, ‘Hugh Evans’ in Area 10.
It nevertheless marks the beginning of a new flowering season so I’m getting my Camellia head back on again.
Hugh-Evans-9

There was a bud on ‘Dazzler’ that will be out in days but other than that no colour showing that I noticed. It could end up being a slightly later season than the last couple of years for many varieties.

Elsewhere I spotted a bud on the variety ‘Flirtation’ in Area 1P. As far as I know it’s not flowered before so I’m very much looking forward to seeing what it does. The Register describes it as having medium sized single light pink blooms so it sounds like it may turn out not to have been worth the very long wait. Unless it flowers much more readily on plants grown under cover it would be commercially useless; no-one buys plants with no buds or blooms when they’re surrounded by others that are blooming freely. Why would you want to wait years for a plant to bloom unless it was truly exceptional?

Another plant which is well budded this year is ‘Bonomiana’ in Area 5A. All the bushes in this area were cut back pretty hard this spring, except for this one. I asked for it to be left because it had not bloomed since it was hard pruned about ten years ago so I hadn’t had a chance to verify its identity. The extra light it has received as a result of all its neighbours being cut back has done the trick and it will be one of very few in this section with blooms in 2020.

Notes from the park

It’s a few weeks since I was last up at Mt Edgcumbe. Camellia season is over, but there are always a few stragglers, some that always manage a few late blooms and a few random things. I set about putting numbers onto the plants in section 5D, European varieties that are part of the Betteley collection. C. japonica ‘Maculata Superba’ had a single almost perfect bloom, that would fall under the random late flowerer category.
Maculata-Superba

When I came to re-attach the label on another plant in the section I spotted a birds nest right in front of me at eye level. It looked like an old one so I felt into it and pulled my hand out pretty quickly as there was something wriggling. I used the camera as a periscope and took this picture of three very young chicks before moving away to allow the parents back. It wasn’t long before a blackbird hen was back on the nest. They wouldn’t have stood a chance in most gardens as it was easily accessible for cats, but I’ve not seen a cat in the park and presumably other predators are relatively few in number.

There are a great many nests in the camellia bushes, especially where they’ve been pruned and clusters of branches have grown back from the same point.

C. japonica ‘Forest Green’ is a regular late flowerer; so much so that in some years a lot of its buds never open at all. This year it seems to have behaved fairly normally but still has a few late blooms dotted about it. Formal double reds account for most of the regular late flowerers in the collection, I have a hunch that in sunnier locations they might behave a bit more normally. I had a plant of ‘Forest Green’ in full sun on my allotment and it flowered profusely in normal camellia season and I have a plant of ‘Eximea’ in my garden which gets much more sun than its parent in the collection, it also blooms normal season. ‘Forest Green’ is noteworthy for its glossy foliage; it is as good as any plant in the collection in this regard.

A short way down from ‘Forest Green’ is a group of large bushes that have been pruned back this year. They have been done before and in most cases the pruning cuts this year were made 6 inches to a foot above where they were made on the last occasion, which I would estimate to have been 8-10 years ago. As you can see in theses pictures, the regrowth last time was not thinned, so many shoots grew back from each cut stem. The crowded growth quickly put on height and the bushes were soon back to the size they had been before pruning, only much denser.

Already new shoots are pushing out from the cut stems and it is my intention to only allow a proportion of them to grow. My preference would have been to cut below where they were cut last time, removing the whole cluster of shoots to leave a single big branch, then to thin the shoots that arose from that. Cutting lower constitutes more severe pruning, with attendant risks, and anything below 4-5 feet is liable to be browsed by deer.

In July 2017 a tree came down onto section 1L, completely destroying a couple of the plants there. In Setember 2018, 14 months later, I spotted shoots just starting to grow on a bush of ‘Little Man’. Those shoots, tiny as they were, survived the winter and are now a few inches tall.

The greatest threat now is someone with a strimmer who doesn’t know the plants are there. I don’t want to flag them conspicuously for fear of someone stepping on the shoots while trying to work out what the marker is for. With no marker there is no reason for anyone to go near them. So far the deer have left them alone.