No, I won't post any rose pictures for this Valentine! Instead I will tell you about a love story for Camellias.
Camellias deserve of course quite a chapter, but here are just some pictures of two of my favourite ones.
I have bought all my Camellias in a blind purchase - that is they were some 20 cm little dwarfs, no flowers to give me a hint of what they would resemble to... I paid them next to nothing at a local store, took them home, pampered them for an year (mind you they are slow growers) and hoped for the best.
Indeed, mature plants can be quite an investment, since they mature slowly and given their reputation for being finicky and difficult I just wanted to give a try to this little creatures before I would start investing into more established plants.
So after an year this was the result! My little dwarfs covered themselves with flower buds and offered me a generous first flush of blooms.
Useless to say that I cracked and melted away and since then am totally in love with them.
Countess Lavinia Maggi
An Italian Camellia, in my opinion also one of the best. The plant is very compact, with tiny and very glossy dark green leaves. The blooms are quite thightly packed with tiny variegated petals, the palest mother of pearl pink stained with pink red.
What I really love about Lavinia is its compact growth, since quite a lot of them tend to have a bit of a lanky shape before they arrive to form a big shrub.
It opens well all buds, and very few are aborted before opening as it happens for instance with the C. Mahotiana. The last one has almost too big a blooms and it fails to open properly - or so does mine at least.
This is Debby, actually quite a comon sort, but it actually did get so popular because it is a very reliable, sturdy plant. It blooms for almost two month, with a profusion of pure sherbet pink flowers.
Inspite their apearance, Camellias endure low temperatures, well below 0 Cº if well protected and planted in a sheltered position. The bigest danger comes from sudden frosts that burn the buds since most Camellias start flowering in February and March. In fact they are an unbeatable sight in those cold month of the year.
Like their fellow Azaleeas and Rododendrons, Camellias thrive only in acid soil and hate baking sun and drought. So keep that in mind if you happen to surrender to their exquisite charms!
If this should happen you can spend quite a dangerous amount of time browsing the catalogue of the Pepinieres Stervinou in France. They offer all possible and very professional informations for each variety ( and they have hundreds), like maximun hight, growth habit, flowering period and the max temperature each plant will endure, since there are considerable differences between them.
They send abroad and have a trully unbeatable variety and quality.
Thou have been warned...
Happy Valentine to you!