Local gardening with Kat: Camma Camma Camellia - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

Photos: Kat Pearson


As I write, camellias are just starting to bloom. Soft petals open sporadically across plants, heralding the profusion that should be well underway by the time you’re reading this!

There are hundreds of camellia species, but as with many plants, a few have taken out the top spots as our horticultural go-to’s, and one is even a culinary go-to. Yep, our humble cup of tea comes from a camellia plant (Camellia sinensis). The fresh shoots are harvested, wilted, and dried. The longer the leaves are allowed to oxidize, the darker the tea (from green to black).

Camellias originally came from the Orient, particularly Japan and China, but also extend into other regions. Both Japanese and Chinese cultures hold the camellia in high regard, and they hold special places in temples and religious practices. In Yunnan Province (China), there are many ancient camellia plants (mostly C. reticulata), some dating back to the 1300s – that’s over 600 years old! In Japan, camellia oil is highly regarded and is said to have been used by geishas to maintain their perfect skin and silken hair. It’s still a popular skincare product today (maybe I should look into that!).

Camellia blooms come in all shapes and sizes, ranging in colour from whites and pale yellows to pinks and reds. Flowers can be small and single or big blousy doubles. While the big doubles are the most elegant and probably my favourite, don’t forget that all your pollinators prefer open flowers so they can get to the good stuff!

Our popular ornamental species, C. sasanqua and C. japonica, flower across autumn through to early spring, with the former starting first and the latter blooming later. While camellias are generally known for being shade lovers, C. sasanqua can take quite a lot of sun once established, but it’s best to read the tag and get some advice from your local nursery as hybridization has blurred the boundaries a little.


I love gardening, growing my own food and plants in general. I’ve been working on our current garden in subtropical Brisbane for the last five years but have been gardening for much longer in all sorts of places. I’m an ex-engineer, recently turned horticulturist (life’s too short not to work in something you love!). I grow edibles and ornamentals in an often wild, rambling jungle, filled with birds and bugs, including a handful of pet chooks and a dog (though to be honest you’re more likely to
find him inside on the couch). Find out more at www.girlinthegreen.com.au.

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