The First Spring Camellias
It's early spring and suddenly my first Camellias are flowering. This is a wonderful moment - I love these shy, simple shrubs. Yet again they've taken me by surprise.
August in my garden is really close to the mid-winter solstice (northern hemisphere readers will need to turn this statement upside down). It still seems cold, feels cold - and is cold. The garden and its Head Gardener are both still in winter semi-snooze-mode.
Flowering Camellia #1
The winter crab-apples are still attached to their trees, with the birds just starting to take an interest. But - wait a moment. There are a few tiny bursts of colourful life at ground level - some lemon primroses here, a lone white snowdrop there. One Prunus tree has started its unobtrusive blossoming - early, as usual, tiny pale flowers which are easily missed.
Sheer Spring Delight
And then - sheer spring delight! The first Camellias start to flower. For weeks I've been squinting at their fat buds in the pale winter light - egging them politely on. Please open!
Flowering Camellia #2
A Watched Camellia Never Blooms...
But a watched Camellia never blooms, and it's taken a couple of days of extreme neglect for them to spring into shape. I guess I was over-anxious, and they were shy beginners...
Camellias are spring prize-winners for many reasons. These first bloomers are pink (I rather like pink). The flowers are chunky, higher than my nose, much easier to ogle at than those head-hanging Hellebores.
But Wait! There's More...
And for every beautiful Camellia flower there are at least ten bursting buds. Camellias are shrubs that live up to the advertising cliche - 'But wait! There's still more!'
These shrubs have such healthy shiny green leaves, considering that I've never, ever given them any compost. Well done, the first of the flowering Camellias, be proud in your pale pinkness, and thank you for springing so suddenly into my garden life!