An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

November 8, 2009

Season Opener

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 x hiemalis 'Bonanza' 1

Camellia sasanqua 'Midnight Lover'
Camellia sasanqua 'Midnight Lover' 2

Camellia sasanqua 'Pink Butterfly'
Camellia sasanqua 'Pink Butterfly' 2

Camellia x hiemalis 'Pink Goddess'
Camellia x hiemalis 'Pink Goddess' 4

Camellia hiemalis 'Shishigashira'
Camellia hiemalis 'Shishigashira' 4

Camellia sasanqua 'Showa-no-sake'
Camellia sasanqua 'Showa-no-sake' 1

Camellia sasanqua 'Sparkling Burgundy'
Camellia sasanqua 'Sparkling Burgundy' 2

Camellia x 'Winter's Hope'
Camellia x 'Winter's Hope' 1

Camellia Show 4

Camellia Show 5

Camellia Show 11

Camellia Show 9

Camellia Show 10


  1. Can't believe you went home empty handed! I am getting more and more fond of Camellias. Thought about going down on Saturday, forget what we ended up doing....and it was just two days ago. Glad you shared some pictures!

  2. You do realize it is almost impossible for me to imagine something as gorgeous and fragile looking as Camellias coming into bloom in November!

  3. Hi Les, how amazing to see those blooms in those little water glasses. It must have been fun to pick your own favorites too. I am surprised you were able to keep from bringing any home. You probably already have lots. We just have Chansonette, three of them tucked away behind some viburnums that have grown too large and hide them. Maybe the reason they look so good, winter protection in our zone 7a. Jury's Yellow always gets burned edges on it's white blooms from the cold.

  4. Les, They are absolutely beautiful! I understand how a gardener could get hooked on them! There is no way I could living here~~unless, I can talk the Mr into a greenhouse. I think I want an English glasshouse! I can't wait to see White By The Gate open this spring at C&L...Thank you for the show tour! gail

  5. It would of been hard for me to resist a plant sale Les. Good for you. ;) Gorgeous blooms.

  6. They are beautiful! I'll be posting on mine tomorrow-my plant of the month this month-how could they not be? I wish I had this kind of variety in my garden.

  7. Those Camellias are beautiful.. my favorites are the fragrant ones.

  8. Your photos of Camellias are divine. I just wanted to let you know I linked to the glorious Colorado photo section on your blog. Thanks for allowing me to do that.

  9. I was just writing about how much I love camellias. You captured the color of "Bonanza" quite well. I can't do it with my camera. I see several here that I'd love to have.

  10. These camellias pictures are very well-done and so inspiring...thanks for bringing some life into my November.

  11. Looks like a ballet Les. Just beautiful.

  12. Janet,
    I may have been persuaded to make a purchase, but the prices I thought were a little high, especially if you factor in what I would get with an employee disc. at work.

    I tried to write this in a gloat free manner.

    I had never been to a judged flowers show before, so this was kind of fun. The entries in styrofoam cups were not nearly as photogenic as the little crystal shot glasses.

    Let us all know if you get a greenhouse for Christmas. If you do that means you were a very good girl.

    Buying another camellia would be a great space commitment for me. I have been thinking about adding some to the city property underneath the crapes. I did that a few years ago, but they died from dog urine, so I will have to fence them.

    They would be a great choice for your P.O.M.

    Sweet Bay,
    I find that the sasanquas are very fragrant, not so much as an individual flower, but collectively.

    You are quite welcome.

    Happy Camellia season to you. I am envious that it is your state flower.

    Thank you for the compliment. I sure hope there are other things that can bring life to your November.

    So many pink tutus.


  13. Les, see if you can made an ID on a Camellia at Jan's site.. We have a similar one in the Learning Garden with no name tag.