When I was attending Mills College in Oakland to obtain my Bachelor of Arts degree, I was amazed at the giant camelia bushes that grew next to the music building. The bushes were 2 stories tall! And in February they would be just covered with blooms! It was such a wonderful sight that I can't even begin to adequately describe.
So you can imagine my delight when we moved to Rosehaven Cottage and found a very mature red camelia bush growing in the narrow 5 foot garden on the north side of the house. Although the bush had been poorly pruned for a number of years, it was not beyond help and it was quite healthy and happy in its location, standing at a height of about 5 1/2 feet.
Since that strip down the side of the house was the only location on our property that could serve as a shade garden, I decided then and there that I was going to add more camelias and have them be the star feature in a gorgeous line--one under each window on that wall. I had (and still do have) visions of them being just as tall as the bushes I loved so much at Mills College.
Why is it that I am so enamored with camelias? Well, I am really drawn to their thick waxy green foliage. The leaves are such a beautiful shape. And the glossy texture is so wonderful to the touch. Even when the camelia isn't in bloom (which is large part of the year) the foliage is still so attractive to me. I also love the buds. They are such perfect symetrical little orbs looking like eggs ready to hatch. I love to see the the petals of the future blooms peeking out of the top of the bud. It means that February's show is about to begin.
The first growing season that we spent here at Rosehaven Cottage was 7 years ago. And the camelia bushes for the shade garden were one of the first major acquisitions I made. The camelia at left grows just outside our living room window. I anxiously waited year after year for it to get tall enough so we could see its blooms through the window. Last year we met that major milestone as one bloom peeks its colorful pink head high enough for us to see it. Last summer it experienced a major growth spurt so that now we are able to see most of the blooms from the window.
When we had the house repainted in the fall of 2006 I was so worried that the camelias wouldn't like being disturbed by the painters' activities. My worrying was all for naught. The camelia didn't care one bit. And just to prove me wrong, it had that big growth spurt I mentioned above. I love how the deep green foliage looks against the butter yellow of our house now. It looks like that's the way it always was.
The one mistake I made when I first started gardening here at Rosehaven Cottage, was to not properly catalogue and journal my plantings. I wish I had. The tags that I left on the camelia bushes are long gone, and now I haven't got a clue what variety each one is, which is really pathetic now that I'm writing a garden-related blog. It's even worse if anyone asks me what variety one is so they can get one just like it. I end up having to fess up and looking rather silly.
I just chalk it up to gardening inexperience. Aside from the small patio garden we had at our apartment prior to moving to Rosehaven Cottage, I had never had a garden of my own. Who knew that I should be writing this stuff down? Now, whenever a beginning gardener comes to be for advice and tips, I try to remember to tell them that they should really keep a garden journal of some sort as they plant their gardens. That way they don't end up with unidentified camelias and rosebushes like I've got.
So with that BIG disclaimer, here is a closeup of this lovely deep pink camelia that grows right outside our living room window. Isn't it gorgeous? Sure wish I knew its name. Sigh...
Regardless, it looks to be well on its way to being one of those huge tall beauties that I wanted even though most of the others I planted are remaining smallish. At least this one and the original camelia at the opposite end of the house are big and beautiful. They'll be like big camelia bookends someday, I hope.