Monday, November 16, 2009

'Winter's Fire' is one of the fall blooming camellias at the USNA

We may have had better falls for Camellias than this year, but not much better and none come to mind. We had enough rain throughout the year that plants were happy and budded well. Now temperatures are cooperating. After a week of wet cool weather it seems we are to have two weeks of 60+ degree days and 40+ degree nights. Today was warm and sunny and there are thousands and thousands and thousands of flowers on the fall blooming camellias. While a few are peaking now, they will still be beautiful this weekend, and if the weather unfolds as predicted, the display ought to be seamlessly beautiful for the next two weeks. 

Most of the "Hardy fall flowering Camellias" (USDA Zone 7a/6) available in the trade were developed at the Arboretum by Dr. William Ackerman.  They were principally hybrids between Camellia oleifiera, C. sasanqua, C.hiemalis / C. vernalis. Their blooming patterns are variable depending on the weather. Typically, depending on the cultivar, flowering begins in October and continues, weather allowing, unabated through the winter holidays. Often we get a shot of cold (or two) during this period; sometimes this blasts the  fully open flowers, but when temperatures rebound buds resume opening and unless it got really cold, another spell of flowering commences. Right now there are as many flowers open as I have ever seen in this collection.

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