Sasanqua season 2018 – 4

I made it back to Mt Edgcumbe on Tuesday after a three week absence to find that the sasanqua season there is all but over. On the other hand, there was a fair smattering of other things flowering and I ended up taking quite a lot of photos.

The sasanqua x reticulata hybrids are moving toward peak flowering. Usually ‘Show Girl’, especially the specimen in the species section, steals the show both on display and flower size. This year it is as good as ever but ‘Flower Girl’ is the best I’ve seen it and almost the equal of ‘Show Girl’.

‘Show Girl’ should be much more widely grown, it produces an astonishing display at a time of year when little else is around and seems able to withstand most of what the weather throws at it.

The Ackerman hybrids have done relatively well this year and have also stood out for the length of their flowering season. ‘Winter’s Toughie’ is good every year but makes a rather large and untidy bush. Light regular pruning would probably help. ‘Winter’s Rose’ and ‘Snow Flurry’ have both been excellent this year, helped by more light from the loss of tree cover. ‘Winter’s Rose’ is semi-weeping, wider than high, ‘Snow Flurry’ vigorous and upright. Both have given about six weeks of display. ‘Winter’s Charm’, growing nearby, has produced a few blooms, similar to ‘Winter’s Rose’ but on a more vigorous, upright bush, but is more shaded than the other two.

Another Ackerman hybrid, ‘Winter’s Joy’, seems reluctant to open out fully, which is unfortunate as it could be most attractive. I’ve not seen it behave like this in previous years.

C. hiemalis ‘Showa Supreme’ is represented by two plants in the collection in Section 1N, one of the shadiest areas. I don’t think this suits them and they never flower freely though this year is the best I’ve seen. This was a Nuccio raised seedling of ‘Showa-no-sakae’ with larger blooms. It’s wide spreading and dense, a good plant would be a fine thing; I must try to propagate it so it can be planted in a better location.

C. x williamsii ‘November Pink’ is usually true to its name, sometimes starting as early as late October. Not this year, just two or three blooms so far. Equally predictable are C. japonica ‘Gloire de Nantes’, C. japonica ‘Nobilissima’ and C. japonica ‘Daikagura’; all of them are flowering freely.

I was a bit more surprised to see C. japonica ‘Momijigari’, C. japonica ‘Bokuhan’ and C. japonica ‘Spring Promise’ with lots of blooms open. I don’t recall more than the occasional early bloom from previous years.

C. ‘Bokuhan’ is clearly one parent of both the plants labelled ‘Peter Betteley’. In an earlier blog I explained why I had concluded that, as similar as they undoubtedly are, they are not the same and seem to be sister seedlings. This year the flowers are as distinct from each other as I’ve ever seen them, though you still need to look carefully.

And then there were the rest. Mostly just one or two early blooms on varieties not especially noted for flowering early; unsurprising, given the summer we had.

Not a bad haul for 11th December. I think it’s going to be a good spring season but if the weather stays mild it may be an early one. Most plants seem to have set a heavy crop of buds and I’ve seen very little sign of them dropping. I have my fingers crossed.

 

The season is under way.

It was late in the day before I finished my planned jobs and set off to see what I could find in flower. C. sasanqua ‘Hugh Evans’ is flowering in areas 1G and 10. ‘Tanya’ is out in 1G but the flowers are small and few in number. It’s a variety with small leaves and a bushy habit that would make a great hedge but when it comes to flowering is a disappointment.

 

Also in 10 were two ‘Plantation Pink’s just getting started and what purport to be ‘Rainbow’ and ‘Narumigata’. The ‘Narumigata’ is almost certainly something else but I don’t know what. Down in the amphitheatre ‘Setsugekka’ had opened three blooms in Japanese section 3C and ‘Snow Flurry’, in 1L, was covered in white flowers.

Tree-damage

In this picture of the left hand half of 1L, ‘Snow Flurry’ is to the right of and behind the hornbeam towards the right side of shot. Just to the left of the Hornbeam is the broken trunk of a massive beech that came down on the camellias a couple of months ago. The tree has been removed and what was left of the camellias tidied up as best it could be. Most are already shooting but how the new growth will fare in winter remains to be seen. A couple of plants have nothing left above ground and a dozen or more suffered serious damage.

Some weeks after the beech came down, another tree further up the bank fell down, presumably because it was no longer sheltered by the beech. Fortunately it did no further damage. A stream runs across the picture and is buried in Persicaria campanulatus which is becoming a very serious weed in this area. On the positive side, it is providing quite a lot of flower for 10th October. I don’t know whether it is a good source of nectar and pollen for bees.

My three main tasks for the day were to clear away piles of fallen branches in area 4A, collect seeds and do some labelling.

Area 4A has suffered badly from trees falling or shedding branches onto it. Quite a lot had not been cleared away so I went in with a bow saw, cut it up and moved it out of the way of the camellias. 4A is very steep and I would like to open up an access path along the bottom in addition to the main ride along the top. It’s a work in progress.

Collecting seed was a task I started on a fortnight ago with one early variety. Last week I added another seven and today a further eight. Usually the pods begin to split, indicating their readiness; in one case the pods were dropping, though not splitting. My intention is to clean them up and put them into the RHS Rhododendron, Camellia and Magnolia Group seed exchange. Camellia seed must not dry out, as soon as I have extracted them from their pods I will put them into plastic bags and send them away.

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Fruits of C. japonica ‘Merry Christmas’.

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The seeds from the fruits above.

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A large fruit, beginning to split open and looking like it will yield several seeds.

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The contents of the fruit above, just two seeds.

 

 

 

 

One of the first things I did last year when I started working on the collection was to assign each individual plant a number. I am now putting those numbers onto the back of the plant’s labels, using a Brother label printer. Thus, for example, where before the two plants of ‘Nuccio’s Gem’ could only be narrowed down to area 1G, it is now easy to see which one we are referring to. Necessary, in this instance, because while one is correctly named, the other is not and remains unidentified.
label
With something like 1600 plants in the collection it is going to take some time but my hope is to complete the task by autumn of next year.

 

Another small step

I have put pictures up for another section at Mount Edgcumbe, 1L. It is a bit longwinded to slot in pictures to an existing entry so I am waiting until I have the majority in a section before putting anything up. A lot of stuff is starting to flower now and I am snapping away, but still have a long way to go. It will be necessary to replace some of the earlier pictures with better ones as the first flowers can be atypical or damaged by bad weather.

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Section 1L, ‘Kramer’s Beauty’ and ‘Show Girl’ on the left.

On my last couple of visits I’ve taken around a thousand pictures each time and have barely sorted them out before the week has gone around and I’m back up there for more.

It is my intention to bring together all the varieties that are unidentified into a rogues gallery. Hopefully Camellia enthusiasts the world over will dip in and see if they can recognize anything. I will try to put together as full a description of each of them as I can, with multiple pictures.

This would be typical; both are labelled ‘Katie’ but obviously they cannot both be. Unless there are two varieties with the same name, which does happen; or one has produced a sport of a different colour which hasn’t been recognized or named yet, which could happen…… ‘Katie’ is described as a very large, salmon, rose pink semi-double so it is very likely the pink one is right and the white one wrong. But what then is the white one?

The first step is to check if there is an identical white in the collection with a different name. A job for Tuesday when I’m back up there. I have a lengthening list of jobs for Tuesday.

New Year, same objective

It’s nearly three weeks since I was up at Mt Edgcumbe: Christmas, New Year and a terrible cold are now history. The forecast was for rain all day, I set out with misgivings.

It stayed dry and there was much to see. The sasanquas have finished with the exception of ‘Gay Sue’. Some of Dr Ackerman’s hybrids were still going and there were a few blooms on a couple of hiemalis varieties.

camellias

I just posted this picture on Twitter; of nearly all the camellias I photographed on Tuesday. My aim this spring is to get photographs of everything in the collection that produces a bloom and to attempt to verify that they are correctly named. It is in the nature of the task that it is relatively easy to say that a name is wrong, much more difficult to correct it.

I haven’t checked all of them yet but I have a problem with four already.

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Camellia ‘Angela Cocchi’

‘Angela Cocchi’ is described in the Register as formal double or rose form, white with red spots and stripes.

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Camellia ‘Eric Baker’

‘Eric Baker’ was manager at Duchy of Cornwall Nursery and on the occasion of his retirement the unregistered ‘Trewithen White’ was renamed ‘Eric Baker’ and a plant of it presented to him. It is fully double, with no stamens showing.

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Camellia pitardii

The species Camellia pitardii has a single flower whereas this is semi-double.

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Camellia ‘Cornish Snow’

This bush is labelled Camellia ‘Cornish Snow Winton’, which is an invalid name confusing two varieties. ‘Winton’ has a pink blush, especially on the buds. This is ‘Cornish Snow’. Both are C.cuspidata x C.saluenensis crosses.

 

Putting on the best show in the collection were the two sasanqua x reticulata crosses ‘Flower Girl’ and ‘Show Girl’. The parentage of both is the same, C.sasanqua ‘Narumigata’ x C.reticulata ‘Damanao’ and both were raised by Howard Asper. They are quite similar, with

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‘Flower Girl’ and ‘Show Girl’

‘Show Girl’ having slightly larger flowers 11-12cm across. ‘Flower Girl’ is a stronger colour, particularly toward the centre.

Also performing well were two of the early Caerhays williamsii crosses, ‘St Ewe’ and ‘Mary Christian’; plus ‘Bow Bells’, a similar variety raised by W.J. Marchant.

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Camellia x williamsii ‘St Ewe’

This tree of ‘St Ewe’ is around 5m tall and was one of a few in English Section 2B that was not hard pruned in spring 2016. It is a fine sight from further up the hill but the main path is way below it and is hard to see it well against the sky.

Some of the japonica varieties that had been starting to open three weeks ago were in full flow. ‘Gloire de Nantes’ is pink, ‘Nobilissima and ‘Campsii Alba’ white. The whites are looking remarkably good, we have had almost no frost and very little wind to damage the blooms.

Many others were starting to open and sporting a few blooms, some more than others. The enigma that is ‘Peter Betteley’ remains unresolved. I am amassing pictures of the two bushes, hoping for some killer detail to emerge that clearly distinguishes what I suspect to be sister seedlings.

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Camellia ‘Peter Betteley’ No 1

 

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Camellia ‘Peter Betteley’ No 2

‘Merry Christmas’ is one of a number of single reds now in flower and I had mentally tagged as “just another”; today I noticed it has an occasional white edge, in the manner of ‘Tama no ura’.

 

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Camellia japonica ‘Merry Christmas’

New additions, old problems

Yesterday morning was spent producing labels on a Gravograph machine. Some were for new additions to the collection, others for plants which have lost their labels for one reason or another.

Today I went back to attach some of the labels, but more particularly, to put wire around some of the newly planted bushes that the deer were beginning to browse. Hopefully it will be temporary and they will lose interest and chew something else.

I have updated the maps for areas 1P and 1G, where additions have been made. The additions to 1P are:

Mary Alice Cox
Mrs Charles Cobb
Button’n Bows
Bambino
Adeyaka
Winter’s Snowman
Trinket
Black Magic
Dream Girl
Something Beautiful
Stacy Susan
Elizabeth Weaver

1G has had the following additions:

Lily Pons
Tammia
Berenice Boddy
Black Magic
Amazing Graces
Nuccio’s Pink Lace
Galaxie
Christmas Daffodil
Miss Tulare
Waltz Time
Little Bo Peep

Twelve of these are new to the collection and eight provide a duplicate to a single existing plant. There are additions to the New Zealand/Australia Area 4F but I have yet to label these.

something-beautiful

Newly planted and wired to keep the deer at bay.

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.

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Much amended original of area 1P.

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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.