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Hot Summer Pays Dividends

This article was first published on 19 Apr 2013.



Dunedin’s hot and dry summer has been wonderful, and it’s great to notice which garden plants are enjoying the conditions as much as us.  Camellias of all types in the botanic garden collection have thrived over the moist spring and hot summer and the plants look healthy and lush.  But, the group with the most marked response has been the sasanquas.  Early season moisture combined with consistent heat has led to a heavy crop of flower buds on this autumn bloomer.  Sasanquas are promising to put on one of their best displays in years.

Camellias which flower through the autumn are commonly called sasanquas.  When summer fades and golden autumn tints start to break up our evergreen landscape, the sasanquas start off the camellia flowering season.

Two of these sasanquas are in the border on the sunny side of the tea kiosk, using this small space to great effect.  Camellia hiemalis 'Bonsai Baby' is a groundcover sasanqua with small leaves.  It forms dainty, spreading mounds about 30-50cm high.  Little deep pink semi-double flowers are like bright stars among the foliage.   It also makes a good container plant or bonsai and any upright growth is easily removed.

Camellia sasanqua 'Mine-no-yuki' translates from Japanese into “Snow on the Ridge”.  The pure white, informal double flowers contrast beautifully against the glossy green foliage.  The flexible stems have been trained up against the wall.

For locations of sasanqua camellias pick up a Camellia Collection brochure from the information centre between 10am and 4pm.

Marianne Groothuis is the Camellia and Theme Plant collection curator at the Dunedin Botanic Garden.