Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Camellia, Queen of the Southern Garden

I have a thing about camellias.  I don't have one in my garden, and I've been doing without since 1990.  Twenty years!  It surprises me to realize that it's been that long.  But 20 years ago, I had just the right camellia growing in just the right place, and I've never been the same since.

Camellia 'Shi Shi Gashira'
Camellias can be fussy customers here.  They seem to prefer a more acidic soil than I've got here in the river bottom.  They like bright shade, but not the north wind.  Not too much water, not too little.  No pruning,  Feeding after blooming, just like azaleas.  They can be susceptible to various fungal diseases like flower blight, and insect pests, like scales.  Moreover, they sometimes drop their flower buds for no apparent reason -- it's their way of complaining that conditions are no longer just right.

If I had never successfully grown camellias, I think I would be over them by now.  But I can't forget those huge old shrubs, over 8 feet tall, growing as if they hadn't a care in the world.  Of course, that garden was 25 miles away from here, and I'm sure the soil is better, and the high shade was preferable to what I've got.  Et cetera, et cetera. 

Meanwhile, I pine away like a jilted lover and long for my camellias.

1 comment:

  1. I have one Camellia and although it produced numerous buds, not a one of them made it to bloom. The buds turned brown and dried so I'm assuming the plant didn't get enough water. I guess I'll leave it there and hope for better luck next winter. Maybe I should buy another variety just as a trial?