This cold hardy camellia (to -20!) has compact, upright growth and lovely shell-pink, peony type flowers that begin in late November for us (the above photo was taken the day before Thanksgiving) and continue through late winter and early spring. It was developed by Bill Ackerman in 1987 from a cross between C. xwillimsii 'November Pink' x C. oleifera 'Lu Shan Snow'.
Long thought of as deep south shrubs, hardier camellias are now a reality thanks to breeding efforts by Bill Ackerman at the National Arboretum during the 80s. When devastating hard freezes hit the area in the late 70s, the Arboretum's huge camellia collection (around 900) was almost wiped out. They noticed that a c. oleifera species (later given the name i"Lu Shan Snow"), introduced in 1948 from northern China, stood up admirably to the cold temperatures. Seeking other varieties in the species, they found another one they called "Plain Jane" and set out to develop new varieties using these as parents. First new hybrids were developed from c. sasanqua and c. heimilis cultivars. Later, spring flowering parents from c. japonica and c. williamsi were crossed to produce more hybrids.
Similar experiments were conducted in the 1960s by Clifford Parks at his nursery in Chapel Hill, N.C. and resulted in the "April" series of camellias that are available today.
Thanks to these experiments which are still going on, a wide selection of cold hardy camellias are available so that gardeners in upper south regions and even New England gardeners can appreciate these beautiful plants.