Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Flowers of the Winter Solstice

In Robertson, we have a pretty mild winter. Certainly much more mild than I grew up with in Canberra. However, it is cold enough for our plants to mark the change of seasons.

One difference though is with Camellias.

In Canberra, Camellias were spring flowers - with the exception of the Sasanquas, which flowered in late autumn, and in winter and then through into Spring. But the larger flowered Camellias were definitely spring flowers (in Canberra).

Here in Robertson, most of my Camellias are now in flower - on Mid-winter's Day (the Winter Solstice). (I apologise that this posting is two days late - but the photos were taken on the right day.)

I love this old fashioned large Camellia. In the books it is referred to as red,. but it is a Camellia which is affected by the soil. On our rich red basalt soils, its red pigment is tinted with blue, and as the flower ages, it goes almost purple. Obviously you can see the blue venation in the flower. Blue on red gives purple. It is not a pure colour, I agree, but I really like this effect anyway. The variety name is "Dona Herzilia de Freitas Magalhaes" (and this is taken from a Camellia catelogue, which acknowledges several variant spelling exist, but it insists this is the correct spelling).

Camellia japonica "Dona Herzilia de Freitas Magalhaes"
Click on the flower to see it in detail.
This is Camellia "Brian" a cross between a large-flowered Reticulata Camellia and C. saluensis variety. Thus, according to traditional naming patterns, it is known as a "Williamsii hybrid" (after the first British nurseryman to popularise the saluensis varieties). The pink in these Williamsii hybrids is generally tinged with blue (or "fuchsine" as the books say). It is a colour I love, and many of my Camellias have this colour. I tend to pass over "baby pink" Camellias, but I keep coming back to flowers which carry this particular tone.

This is "Chansonette", which is a rosette shaped flower in the Sasanqua group, (or is it C. vernalis?). You tell me.
Unfortunately, I appear to have lost the name of this variety. I like its poached egg appearance, and the purity of the white.
For contrast, here is a flower which I recall fondly from my father's garden - a dark striped form of the common Stylosa Iris. This flower has been nibbled already (on its second night) for snails "will crawl over broken glass" to eat these flowers when fresh. Snails have no legs, obviously, with which to crawl. However, I do like that old fashioned expression. Damaged flower or not, I love the colour combination in these classic winter flowers.


mick said...

I don't know much about camellias - but I do know these are beautiful!
great photos too.

tilcheff said...

Beautiful photos and flowers, Denis! And an interesting post to read :)

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Tilcheff.
Glad you appreciated the post.
You will have noticed Sydney is very different in its flowering times from Tasmania.
Sydney people have little concept of "Winter" - just a few cool days, spread over a couple of weeks.
Canberran gardeners love the depth of winter, for Daphne and other plants which thrive in the cold.
Robertson is half way in between, but high enough to be cold enough to experience a real winter effect.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
No doubt you do know about Hibiscus flowers, though! And those big showy Grevilleas. And huge purple Bougainvilleas, etc.
Climatic differences.
Glad you liked the photos.

Anonymous said...

Ahh memories of my Mother's garden and Camellia flowers being picked with great care to avoid bruising. Although they do look beautiful in arrangements a tree in bloom is spectacular especially with a carpet of spent flowers on the ground around it.
A lovely selection of photos Denis - I have never seen one so purple!

Denis Wilson said...

Aaah, Barbara.
If I have generated memories of your Mother's garden then, as a blogger, I rest content!
Thanks for the heart felt comment.