Sunday, December 6, 2009
Catching a glimpse of the perfect bright pink blooms of camellia 'Debutante' among the frost-burnt foliage of most of the surrounding plants in the landscape is a soul-satisfying experience for me. We have a circular driveway behind our house and alongside this drive is what I call the "camellia walk" or it might better be referred to as the "woodland garden". It is a long narrow stretch situated under a row of the awful hackberry trees that were already there when we moved in. The soil here dries out during prolonged dry periods so I have a string of soaker hoses in place. Most of the plants that I've planted here are doing well. Camellias, roses, and a few azaleas dominate along with witch hazel, oakleaf hydrangea and climbing raspberry.
'Debutante' is one of my favorite camellias. I transplanted it here after it resided in the lower garden where the absence of leaves during the winter scorched the camellia leaves badly. It is about the same height as I am (5'9") but the transplant went well with no problems.
'Debutante' was originally registered as "Sarah C.Hastie" in 1930 and introduced in 1938 by the Gerbing Azalea Nursery in Florida. The flowers are peony-form, clear pink and appear early to mid-season. It grows tall, compact and narrow and would probably make a good hedge. This camellia is a parent of many popular camellias on the market today.
In case you are wondering about the black residue on the leaves - this is caused by aphids that attack the hackberry trees. The black sooty residue falls on the surrounding plants, cars, garage and everything in the vicinity. The substance doesn't seem to affect the health of the plants. The hackberry trees are great for shade but that is the only good thing I could ever say about them. I wouldn't plant one if you paid me.