Camellia japonica 'Desire'

If truth be told, camellias are not a particular favorite of mine. I agree that their evergreen foliage is particularly lush, and some of them cultivars do produce some extraordinary flowers, but their is one characteristic that ruins my enjoyment of camellias every single time. It is the way their blooms suffer in our cold, wet and windy spring weather.

The cold and the wet are both enemies of the camellia flower turning it to a soggy brown nondescript piece of vegetation very much like an overcooked Brussels sprout. However that is not the end of it as frosts and early morning sunlight will compound the problem.

Camellia Japonica 'Desire'
Therefore it is impossible to create perfection in a camellia unless you are growing it in a protected environment or in a country that has a more suitable climate. This, in my mind, is why there will never be a space for a camellia in my garden - except for one!

Camellia japonica 'Desire' is without doubt an exception to my rule that I can definitely live with. Its pure white blooms are surrounded by a deep pink basal glow and as the buds opens they reveal a striking Fibonacci- like sequence of petals. This pink shading grows even deeper the near it reached the outer edge of petal edges. I have to admit that the contrast of the pale formal flowers against the very dark leaves is particularly appealing to me. Furthermore, Camellia japonica 'Desire' has the benefit of flowering from mid to late season so it is less likely to be damaged by inclement weather.

The 'Desire' cultivar was a result of a hybridization of  Camellia 'Debutante' and 'Dr.Tinsley' that was developed in California in 1973. Like all Camellia japonica hybrids this is a large evergreen shrub with attractive, polished leaves. In fact, you can expect the Camellia japonica 'Desire' to reach about 12 feet in height once mature. As a garden plant it is surprisingly hardy, but in areas prone to late frosts, plant this particular cultivar in a north or west facing site unless there is some light overhead shade from other trees that can offer some protection.

Like the majority of Camellias, 'Desire' will thrive in a good acid or neutral peaty soil, however if this is not available then dog in plenty of ericaceous compost before planting. If you can, water with rain water rather than tap water but if rain water is not available then feed with a water soluble, ericaceous fertilizer every few weeks over the growing period.

For related articles click onto the following link:
Camellia japonica 'Black Lace'
Camellia japonica 'Desire'
Camellia japonica 'Mrs. Tingley'
Camellia 'Royalty'

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