Wednesday, October 21, 2009

All the colors of fall

So we haven't written in a while and we're sorry. But that's because we've been so darn busy with all the new plants that arrive in autumn.
My absolute favorite fall plant has to be the fall blooming Camellia (C. sasanqua and its hybrids). Anyone who visits Homewood in October has probably seen me stalking the camellia bed, camera in hand, hunting for new blooms to shoot. Every year we manage to get our hands on at least a few varieties we've never had before from our fabulous local source, Cam Too in Greensboro. This year there were three.

'Winter's Sunset' has a soft peachy-pink bloom that isn't terribly exciting but the flowers aren't why you grow this one anyway. The small, toothy leaves are a striking combination of dark emerald green and lighter green variegation that provides a good deal of interest long after the flowering season has ended.Camellia 'Winter's Sunset'

I'm not sure what 'Mikuniko' means in japanese but it could easily translate to "abundant coral pink blooms". When this cultivar arrived in late September it was already blooming its head off and four weeks later it shows no signs of stopping any time soon. Camellia 'Mikuniko'My top pick for this year has to be 'Hienko'. Its newly opened flowers look almost like a rosebud and though the blooms are fairly small they have a charming semi-double form.Camellia 'Hienko'
'Hienko's best feature is its awesome purple overtones. It has got to be one of the richest purple Camellias I've ever seen in person. It's so tasty, I could it eat it.Camellia 'Hienko'

Although I love to meet the new Camellias on the block there are a few varieties that I enjoy seeing year after year.

There's 'Chisato-no-aki' with its formal double, cream-colored blooms and slightly weeping growth habit.Camellia 'Chisato-no-aki'
Or 'Autumn Sunrise' with its bold, pink-stained flowers.Camellia 'Autumn Sunrise'

I've recently rediscovered 'Winter's Snowman' which I dismissed at first because it's white (it's quite closed minded of me but I tend to find white camellias boring). But the relatively large bloom size and the super-cool anemone form have changed my thinking.Camellia 'Winter's Snowman'
I have always been impressed with 'Long Island Pink' not necessarily for its flower shape or color but for the amazing quantity of blooms it produces and its very dense, very vigorous growth habit. Camellia 'Long Island Pink''Pink Goddess' may have been one of the first cultivars I fell for here at the nursery. It's a not-too-obnoxious shade of peachy-pink and the blooms are somewhat cup-shaped which is just fun. It's also a heavy bloomer and very upright; good for narrow spaces.Camellia 'Pink Goddess'
One of the cultivars that the N.C. State arboretum has deemed worthy enough to grow is the adorable 'Leslie Ann'. The flowers are small but each one is a formal-double work of art. Camellia 'Leslie Ann'
Lastly I must mention one of the most unique varieties I've encountered, 'Moon Festival'. It looks a bit like a piece of paper you balled up and then unscrunched. Or maybe a wrinkled shirt that needs a good ironing. The flowers are huge for a sasanqua camellia (up to 5 inches across) and each petal has that neat crinkled look. Most of our customers either love it or they hate it. There's not many in between feelings for this one. It's pretty clear which side I'm on.
Camellia 'Moon Festival'

Ah Camellias! How I love thee.

Christina, Assistant Nursery Manager