Hardy Camellias: The April Series
The Alabama state flower is no longer just a plant for southern living. Over the past several years, breeders have introduced several cold-hardy cultivars of the profusely flowering, shade-loving small tree or shrub. Varieties of camellias can showcase stunning blooms on evergreen foliage in late fall/winter or early spring. Currently blooming in the Arboretum’s Camellia Collection along College Avenue are members of the April series.
This series was released by Dr. Clifford Parks of the University of North Carolina and owner of Camellia Forest Nursery. He developed March-to-April blooming cultivars with crosses of existing hardy C. japonica. These hardy forms are rate cold hardy to Zone 6. While open flower buds are susceptible to frost and freeze damage, tightly closed buds are not injured.
Visit the Arboretum this weekend to see these selections in bloom now.
Camellia japonica ‘April Kiss’ has a moderate growth rate making it ideal for patio or screen plantings. The evergreen foliage currently is showcasing the pink double flowers.
Camellia japonica ‘April Remembered’ has one of the largest flowers in the series. The cream to pink shaded, semi-double flowers cover the vigorous upright branches.
A long time performer in the Harry Wood Garden is Camellia japonica ‘April Blush’. Located on the entrance corner of the garden, ‘April Blush’ makes everyone stop to ask “what is that plant?” A classic Camellia bush with compact, glossy evergreen foliage, it buds freely, producing shell-pink, semi-double flowers.
Camellia japonica ‘April Rose’ is one of the best in the April series for cold hardiness. The deep rosy-red, double flowers open in mid-to-late spring. The fragrant blooms appear on lustrous dark evergreen foliage adding to the appeal of this hardy camellia.
Camellias make great specimen plants or sited along the edge of woodland plantings. They benefit from light shade, and protection from the winter sun and wind.