Camellia ‘Minato-no-akebono’ was raised in Japan by Masaomi Murata and released in 1981. The name translates as ‘Harbour at Dawn’. It is a hybrid between C. lutchuensis and C. japonica ‘Kantô-tsukimiguruma’ and from its lutchuensis parent it has inherited a lovely scent. This is not at all like the somewhat oily scent of C. sasanqua, it is a proper, sweet perfume and on a calm and not too cold day it will carry several feet from the plant.

The blooms are quite small, 6-7cm across, with 5-7 petals. They are light pink and have a prominent bunch of stamens with yellow anthers in the centre. The leaves on my plant are a mid green but would probably be darker if it was growing in part shade rather than in full light. It isn’t in fact still in full light as I moved it recently from one side of the garden to the other and it is now against a fence and partly shaded. I would expect it to be less free flowering and to have a more open habit in shade. The leaves are on the small side and if enough plants could be secured, it would make a very attractive hedge.

Growth is upright with long extension growths which I have trimmed back annually to keep it reasonably compact. The new leaves flush reddish, extending its already long season of interest, with the first flowers usually opening in December and carrying on through to at least March.

A few days ago the thermometer dropped to -2.8°C, which slightly damaged a few of the fully open flowers. New growth starts very early, in January, and is vulnerable to frosts. It may be that in a more continental climate it would stay dormant until later.