Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Camellia sasanqua `Setsugeka'

Camellias get a bit taken for granted, don't they?
But the sasanquas, those that have the rather smaller flowers (always my preference), earlier blooming seasons (late autumn to winter) on hardier plants, are doing their dazzling thing right now in gardens all over Melbourne and in the Dandenong Ranges where I live.
As the perennials wind down, a few Camellia sasanqua varieties might give the garden some panache and now, while they're flowering, is the best time to choose the ones you like best in the nurseries for the garden.

Not rare but lovable is one I've just met again (and about to plant): Camellia `Setsugeka' which is a Japanese cultivar known and grown since 1898. With wavy white petals it's not neat but...I find it charming...and it reminds me of a favourite childhood memory of my mother (and I). Maybe it was obvious early on that I was pretty keen on gardening and flowers and I was 10 or less when this occurred. We'd driven up to the Dandenong's - we lived in Melbourne then; we were visiting a flower show and I was scanning the flowers - camellias (clearly a winter show) - as eagerly as Mum was. And then, out of a bank of, I swear, 200 or 300 blooms, Mum and I pointed to the same flower, simultaneously, and said, `that's the nicest one.'
We both loved the delicacy and subtlety of small flowers and we liked similar colours too; a keen gardening sister loves huge flowers, instead, whether they be roses, camellias or clematis.
It's odd, isn't it?

Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, writer, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria (

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