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Camellia 'Leslie Ann'

The Lady Garden remains a work in progress. One thing that has been lacking is a defined entry. The skimpy stone/wood path doesn't provide much impact, though it does direct the feet toward the central urn. After mulling the matter in my mind, I decided to look for a shrub for each side of the entrance. Here in the Southeast USA, now is the best time to plant shrubs. Fall planting gives them a full season to establish roots before spring growth begins, and plants are better grounded before the heat of next summer arrives. Fall planted shrubs also require less watering than spring planted ones.

I wanted something evergreen, columnar, growing to about eight feet. Holly? Perhaps, if I could find a nice variety with smooth leaves. Upright juniper? Not sure about that.

I headed for a local nursery earlier this week. It was an off time of the day, and I was one amongst only a handful of customers. I wandered up to where the evergreens were displayed in long rows. I stopped when I saw the sprinkler system, spraying large swaths of water across all of the plants I had determined to examine. I looked around to find a nursery worker, hoping to get the water turned off. I didn't see anyone. I skirted the evergreens, dodging the water, and thinking if I timed it right I might be able to see what they had.

For my efforts I received a jet of water across my face. 

I sighed and headed back toward the front, searching for someone to shut off the sprinkler. I halted at the shady garden area, eyeing a display of camellias.

Camellia! Why not upright camellia?

Before long I was headed home with two Camellia sasanqua 'Leslie Ann'.

Nothing says Old South like a camellia. There are two kinds. Most noted is Camellia japonica, with varieties blooming in late winter to early spring. I already have several of these. Just as beautiful but for some reason not as celebrated, Camellia sasanquas bloom fall to early winter. It's easy to remember the difference: japonica - J is for January; sasanqua - S is for September. Sasanquas tend to be more cold hardy than japonicas and most will finish blooming before hit by hard frosts. 'Leslie Ann' does well in hardiness zones 7-8.

'Leslie Ann' is the first sasanqua for me. I am thrilled to have a shrub with beautiful blooms this time of year. It is a prolific bloomer from October through November. The two to three inch, semi double blooms are white with raspberry tips. The two I purchased each have a couple of open blooms and are covered in buds. They should soon be in full bloom.

"Leslie Ann" is an upright, column grower, to about eight feet tall with a width of four to five feet. It has glossy, dark green leaves, oval with slightly toothed edges. My baby camellias look scrawny, but I am promised the shrubs will become dense. After blooms have faded I will lightly prune to encourage fullness.

All camellias grow well in semi-shade to sun, in well drained, acid soil. I dug wide holes for mine and added compost to the native soil before backfilling around the root balls. I watered well and then added pine straw mulch around the bases. Camellias should be fed up to three times a year with a slow release, acidifying fertilizer, in early spring, summer, and  fall. 'Leslie Ann' is said to grow about eight inches a year. However, I have learned that plant tags don't always read the plant's mind, so I will have to watch. Hopefully, I have left enough space between my camellias for a nice entrance to the Lady Garden.

Here are some shots of my new camellias. Everything is very wet, because the weather cooperated for me and began to rain just after I planted them.

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Reader Comments (19)

Lovely Camellias Deb and your last shot is stunning!! Enchanting. ;>)

November 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

You are so right, nothing says Old South like camellias! I love that sugar pink edged bloom, very pretty.

November 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

Hi Deb, I remember the sweet camellias growing up in East Texas and now in Connecticut I've got a couple of sasanquas in pots that survive on the sun porch. Didn't know you could get columnar varieties - beautiful!

November 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCyndy

Beautiful! You now have a grand entrance and it would have to be to approach that magnificent urn! I know camellias would not survive here and am so very glad to enjoy yours. It seems I am always looking for evergreens with such a young garden and long winter.

November 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterthevioletfern

Camellias are the perfect choice, of course! I am a huge fan of camellias actually, and that cultivar is quite lovely. They look perfect at the entrance to your path. You will be lucky to have these bloom in fall. My camellias don't start blooming until late November/early December, which is soooooo hard to wait for! It's killing me, really.

November 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFloridagirl

Aren't you glad now that the had those sprinklers going? The camellias make a nice entrance frame for the garden, and those pink tinges on the tips of the petals are so pretty. It is fun when a combination of planning and sudden inspiration result in the right find.

November 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNorthern Shade

Camellias are one of my favorite plants. I have a large collection but I don't have this one. It is very pretty (well they all are, aren't they?)

November 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPhillip

Deborah I had never heard of this type of camelia until I visited you today. The flowers are lovely looking with their two tones and will just make the perfect evergreen entrance to your lady garden against that tapestry background of the fall leaves. I never realised that you could get upright forms of camelia.

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

I would certainly be invited in to your woodland path looking at your last photo, beautiful! I thought (but don't know) that this type of Camelia doesn't need such acid soil. Christina

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMy Hesperides Garden

Oh, wish to be able to have camellias. They are so elegant and your selection is so pretty. What a great spot in the last image. A place to go for calm and tranquility.

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

How lovely they are. It is nice to have such beautiful blooms this time of the year. I so wish they were hardy to my zone 5. I do enjoy looking them from those who can grow them though.

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLona

So lovely ... wish I could grow them :( Your last photo is awesome!

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjoey

Sigh. 'Leslie Ann' is so lovely. Those will make beautiful sentries. I just have one straight species Camellia sasanqua grown from seed that will hopefully bloom next year or some day (lol), but I have seen some real beauties in full bloom when going to the store or town. I love the pink edging on Leslie Ann's petals. Her flowers remind me of a rose.

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSweet Bay

Hi Deborah - I too visited a garden centre this week looking for Camellias. Found the Sasanquas but declined the tempation as they need more sun than their Japonica cousins. I really like the way you have planted them as a featured 'entrance doorway' to your Lady Garden


November 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPatioPatch

Deb - what a fantastic idea to showcase the entrance to your Lady Garden! The flowers have that 'kiss of pink', just beautiful!

November 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShyrlene

Dear Deborah, An inspired choice for the entrance to your Lady Garden. The Sasanqua Camellias are so elegant and yet are much tougher than they appear. The upright habit is perfect for marking the entrance and the flowers will be so wonderfully profuse in coming seasons. Excellent!

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEdith Hope

Good luck with your sasanquas. I found my Christmas blooming variety to be too fussy and ended up pulling it out after it was heavily damaged by a blizzrd last winter. Sometimes it would bloom, sometimes it wouldn't. But now that I think about it, yours are in a better spot than mine was so here's to lots of beautiful blossoms! Clink!

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTS

Deb, You made a great choice with Leslie Ann. I've found that camellias vary from being extremely finicky to tough as nails. Leslie Ann is definitely in the "tough as nails" category. Before I retired, I worked with my students to landscape our campus chapel. The dirt was some of the worst i have ever worked with due to recent construction and a roadbed that had existed before the construction. It truly was dirt rather than soil and I knew that only the most resilient plants would thrive. I got a good deal on some Leslie Anns from a wholesaler in south Mississippi. I planted about a dozen of them with trepidation because I had never grown them before and I knew about the great variance in camellia hardiness. They prospered everywhere I planted them and I soon became a fan. So my point is that it is not just a beautiful camellia. By the way, they seem to be somewhat resistant to scale as well.

November 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGail (Yardflower)

your new Camellias are beautiful, I have a red japonica that I rescued and revived years ago I keep it in a pot though as I am scared our winter gales will kill it, it spends winter in the shed by the window,

November 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFrances

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