Sunday, March 2, 2014

Camellias in Sacramento

The Sacramento Camellia Show is the largest and oldest of its kind in the country. This past weekend marked the 90th anniversary of the show. I checked it out on Sunday with a friend who loves camellias. Personally, I don’t know much about them but I enjoyed looking at the flowers—and I was surprised by how many different types and varieties there are!

I can’t tell you much about what you’ll see in the photos below, but I thought those of you living in colder climates might be cheered by the pretty flowers.

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The Sacramento Memorial Auditorium was filled with thousands of camellia flowers

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A few dozen chosen entries were displayed on round tables…

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…like this one

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Others were displayed on long rows of tables, either singly or in groups of three, five or even more

In my haste I forgot to write down the names of most of the camellias I photographed but the Camellia Society of Sacramento has a photo index on their website that might help you identify them if you’re interested.

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‘Ellen Daniel’

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‘Taylor’s Perfection’

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Not sure if the brown spots are signs of decay or a desirable trait

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‘Night Rider’

I’ve got to say a word about ‘Night Rider’. The flowers, though small and relatively simple, were utterly stunning. They’re a dark burgundy, darker than in my photo above, and when I laid eyes on them, I knew I had to have a plant. (This page has much better photos.) Unfortunately, the sole plant vendor at the show was already sold out. In addition, it seems ‘Night Rider’ is one of the rarer varieties and fairly difficult to obtain. As luck would have it, though, Peacock Horticultural Nursery in Sebastopol, which I profiled last fall (here and here) has a couple in stock, and one of them now has my name on it. I will grow it in a pot under the bay trees in the backyard where I can enjoy its flowers up close.

After the Camellia Show we headed over to Capitol Park to check out the many camellias surrounding the California State Capitol. I wrote a detailed post about the history of camellias in Sacramento a couple of years ago. Check out this post for more information.

The timing of our visit was perfect because most camellias were covered with hundreds, if not thousands, of flowers. The fallen flowers formed round carpets at the base of the trees—truly a magical sight.

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Fallen but still beautiful

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The massive roots in the photo on the left are from a very large southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

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This brown flower, still attached to the tree and looking perfectly pristine, was one of the most startling sights of the day

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Fallen camellia flowers floating in a pool. The needles are from a nearby Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum).

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Camellias thrive in our climate. Several houses in our neighborhood have fairly mature camellias that are in full bloom right now. Our native soil is clay (alkaline) and camellias prefer acidic soil, but it seems that they are fairly adaptable.

From the American Camellia Society’s web site:

Camellias will grow in most well-drained slightly acid soil. A soil pH (degree of acidity or alkalinity) of 6.0 - 6.5 is considered best for camellias. However, they will tolerate a lower pH. A soil test made before planting will tell you what is needed to bring the soil to the desired pH and fertility level. Practically all soils will benefit from the addition of organic matter when planting. Two to four inches or peat moss, leaf mold, ground aged bark, sawdust or cow manure worked into the soil improves both the drainage and fertility of the soil.

4 comments:

  1. Wow! Love Camellias. Thanks for the show! I remember one beautiful bush up in Placerville by the front door, the black widows loved it!

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  2. Of course the one you had to have was a rare one -- that's how it always works! I think I'd love to see these trees in bloom, but can't say that I have much experience with Camellias.

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  3. It's looking like Camellias are set to become fashionable again here.

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  4. Camellias are definitely pretty. I used to have a couple of bushes in the front of the house but they got carried away with growth and I got carried away growing succulents and we pulled them out. lol

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