Living here in the upper reaches of zone 8, one of the great consolations to the impending winter is the beginning of Camellia season. The first to bloom are C. sasanqua, C. hiemalis and the hybrids, with November being their peak month. Depending on the weather, these fall bloomers will continue flowering well into December and sometimes even into January if it stays mild enough. The majority of these Camellias are hardy to zone 7b or 8, but there are quite a few newer hybrids that can carry Camellia season into zone 6. Most of these cold hardy varieties were developed by Dr. William Ackerman from research done at the U. S. National Arboretum in Maryland. If you want to try one of these more cold tolerant selections, look for Camellias with the words Winter, Ice, or Snow in the name, but check the zones on the tag to be sure.
This past Saturday I went to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens to visit the Hofhiemer Camellia Garden and to look at the fall bloomers. This was also the day the Virginia Camellia Society held their fall show and sale. The show was judged, and like similar events, there are very particular rules and categories as to what and how the blooms are exhibited. After I toured the gardens I went inside to see the show, but was able to restrain myself from making any purchases.
Here are just a small portion of the blooms in the garden and some shots from the show. If you want more you can go here.
Camellia x hiemalis 'Bonanza'
Camellia sasanqua 'Midnight Lover'
Camellia sasanqua 'Pink Butterfly'
Camellia x hiemalis 'Pink Goddess'
Camellia hiemalis 'Shishigashira'
Camellia sasanqua 'Showa-no-sake'
Camellia sasanqua 'Sparkling Burgundy'
Camellia x 'Winter's Hope'