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camellias: japonica v sasanqua

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Posted by EDITOR 7 Jun 2010 - 12:10:00 PM

At an open garden full of camellias recently, I overheard a mother schooling her daughter so I assumed the relationship about the difference between japonicas and sasanquas with a bias toward her own preference for japonicas. Sasanqua flowers aren't as ornamental. They fall at the breath of a wind and make a mess.

They're not the only camellias and hybridising has made the difference between these two main types of camellias less distinct. But in a contest between the two, I'm a sasanqua man.

As a boy, I think I fixated on a romantic picture in an old Allan Seale book of a large pink sasanqua allowed to open out as a small arching tree. I grew up with affection for the carpet of cerise petals my father would battle against laying across his lawn. His japonicas were slow in comparison and either held on to dead flowers or dropped them whole in messy blobs.

Sasanquas are adaptable as a screen or hedge. The japonicas are used more as individual feature plants. To me they often look kind of uptight, solemn and lonely which actually makes them fit comfortably into a formal garden setting.

Though the patterns of the water lily japonicas are especially beautiful, my preference is for the simplicity of the single sasanqua with a bit of a wave its petals. And masses of them.

At a point in the season where the japonicas are taking over from the sasanquas, let's put it to the vote.

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