by Adam Pasco

Finally last week, my first camellia of the year opened fully to show off its golden anthers, set off to perfection against the delicate frill of pink petals.

Camellia flowerThey've been developing bit by bit for weeks, teasing me with glimpses of their pink petticoats. Finally last week, my first camellia of the year opened fully to show off its golden anthers, set off to perfection against the delicate frill of pink petals. I think it's called 'St Ewe', but I wouldn't put money on it. Yes, so delicate for winter, but the warm weather had coaxed it out of hibernation to cheer me up.

It's a reminder that spring is just around the corner, but don't assume things can't get worse before they get better! Last year in February we had snow in the Midlands where I live! Friends in London have been boasting camellias in full flower for weeks, and I'm sure they look wonderful in warmer parts of Cornwall and the southern counties too. It's an example of how temperature influences so many plants in our gardens, often putting our traditional gardening seasons slightly out of sync when we get an unexpected warm spell.

Of course, when it comes to camellias, all varieties are not the same. Some naturally flower earlier and others later, so by choosing varieties carefully you can ensure a long season of colour from February through to April. By doing this you can enjoy some of them without experiencing the damaging affects of frost.

That's been my problem. No sooner had my first camellia fully opened than we've experienced three successive nights of hard frost that have sadly browned both anthers and petals on these delicate blooms. Thankfully a lovely double-flowered variety is just developing, so I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for a milder week ahead to enjoy these new flowers in pristine form.

Adding a few winter flowering plants really pays dividends, providing another reason to get outside to breathe in some of the freshest air of the year. And my camellias aren't alone. An azalea is developing earlier than I've ever seen it before, daffodils will soon be opening...yes, sping is in the air!

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Camellia
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gardeners' World Web User 14/02/2008 at 20:27

There are feeders on the market specifically designed for these fat balls. I have had 2 for several years - 1 takes 2 of the large size fatballs and the other holds 4 of the small ones. I always remove the nets before placing in these holders and they have been a huge success and I have seen a greater spotted woodpecker on them as well as bluetits,great tits, sparrows and starlings

Gardeners' World Web User 15/02/2008 at 08:24

Talking about camellias and other plants being out of sync in our changing climate. We experienced a reversal this year. Bow Bells a lovely late December/January started to bloom at the same time as Debbie late January February or even March camelia and Donation which usually follows them all is blooming in tandem with Debbie. I agree such a lovely burst of colour in early spring's sometime grey days. I have a white camellia which blooms much later. I don't know its name but it has white pointed petals. It is in a large stone tub and now that I have moved it into the shade its lovely blooms stay pristine white and do not yellow off. My Kaffir lilies and still blooming too. The tall Mahonia (Charity) has finished earlier and is already forming its gree grape-like berries which when ripe in June or July make the blackbirds so daring that they will swoop down when you are snoozing in the garden to steal them and fight off the starlings who love them too.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/02/2008 at 08:49

hi there my camellias buds seem to be dropping off onto the ground and this happened last year too. any suggestions why? it doesn't look frost damaged or unhealthy.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/02/2008 at 10:36

I have had a camellia japonica for 4 years in a huge pot, it only flowered the 1st year, i feed it ericaceous food through the summer and top dress with ericaceous compost every year, i feel so sad every spring when the flowers dont show! Help.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/02/2008 at 12:32

My Hubby bought me a lovely Camellia Japonica for valentines. I'm scared to plant it as the last one I planted turned brown and died even though I dug a big whole and put ericaceous compost in. Should I keep this one in a tub. It's called silver anniversary. Help.

See more comments...