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Camellia Leaves are Important Feature

This article was first published on 26 Jun 2020.

Camellia 'Mermaid'

Camellia 'Mermaid'

Photo by the Otago Daily Times

In 2012 judges from the International Camellia Society recognised Dunedin Botanic Garden with an International Camellia Garden of Excellence Award.  Dunedin Botanic Garden was the 29th in the world to receive this accolade.

The comprehensive camellia collection has a strong emphasis on health, landscape design and education.  It is laid out in botanical order with consideration of sun or shade levels to keep the foliage as healthy as possible as a common problem can be yellowing foliage due to scorching by the sun.

Camellias have beautiful evergreen foliage from bold, glossy and dark green leaves through to delicate, finer, lighter green leaves.  Margins can be smooth, wavy or serrated.

Several camellias in the lower botanic garden camellia collection have unusual and interesting leaves and habits. Camellia 'Mermaid' (pictured) is on the west side of the main drive. Commonly called the goldfish camellia, the leaves are narrow, glossy and dark green with the end of the leaf or ‘tail’ divided into two or three twisted pieces making the entire leaf resemble a goldfish.

You can choose to have a solid camellia for shelter or prune openly to reveal the shape of the trunk and habit in a more graceful manner.

Camellia 'UnryĆ»-tsubaki' has an intensely corkscrew habit.  The prefix UnryĆ» (dragon in the clouds) explains the play of leaves and twigs, said to resemble a dragon ascending into the sky.  This camellia benefits from open pruning to show off the twisting habit.