January 24, 2018
Greetings, noble camellians-
If you were not at the OCS meeting on 1/20, you missed, I think, a very special presentation by our member, Robert Herald. With, as many of us know, a professional background in large public gardens, Robert is very specially qualified to discuss and pictorially show the famous Wisley Gardens near London, the largest garden operated by the Royal Horticultural Society. With 240 acres and a million visitors per year (second only to the Kew Gardens), Wisley is certainly a complex and wondrous place. While he showed us pictures of some of Wisley's more exotic features- tropical, desert, water gardens, testing facilities, laboratory, etc., his personal tastes run more toward hardy plants that do well in Surrey's natural climate, even if not native there. Fortunately, these include camellias of which Wisley has quite a selection. (Actually, I've seen Wisley's name quite a few times when looking camellias up on line in conjunction with the RHS's extensive plant info services.).
At this point, I should be able to repeat for you the dozens of wonderful plants that Robert showed pictures of (besides camellias). Well . . . that's not going to happen (sigh). A few things I remember- the lovely perennial (in Britain) that becomes a noxious, invasive weed in Portland; a (presumably) overgrown camellia that gardeners "pruned" (with a chain saw) to within 2' of the ground; and a tree cut to the ground each year because it fits with its companions that way. Robert also showed us a really scraggly dawn redwood, Wisley's huge rock garden and quite a bit of Battleston HIll which features rhododendrons, azaleas and even camellias. Every time I hear Robert, I find myself wondering if he ever saw a plant he didn't like or even forgot the name of. Our group is awfully lucky to have someone able and willing to share such memorable programs with us.
You're probably saying now, "Oh drat- we missed that fine talk!". Well, there is good news- at our upcoming OCS meeting on February 17th, Roger and Kathy Lintault will be sharing with us their garden-focused tour of New Zealand in 2016. While having very different backgrounds from Robert's, Roger and Kathy know and grow a great many plants, have traveled widely, take beautiful photographs and are very skilled raconteurs- they do lovely programs and can practically finish each others' sentences. So- take a moment or two to celebrate with me the wonderful personal resources our group has and mark your calendar to meet with us on 2/17 at Midland Library and enjoy some of the best.
Thank you for reading and remember- nobody ever got the flu from a camellia!
Cheers- Collier Brown
January 16, 2018
Greetings, fellow camellia enthusiasts.
I hope you enjoyed/survived the holiday season in good health. We have now come to the interim portion of our camellia blooming season—the sasanquas are mostly gone (they did well, I thought—not as much rain as sometimes). The first japonicas are now coming—I have Unryu and Garden Glory plus Lady Clare blooming and I've seen the first Tinsie bloom in Newberg. There's a good bud set and if we don't get the east coast weather we should be all right (I lost all buds on my Francie L last year in the January freeze).
I hope you will be coming to the meeting at the Belmont Library on Saturday. We'll have a program with photos of the fabulous British Wisley Gardens presented by the ever eloquent, amiable and knowledgeable Robert Herald, and a report by our American Camellia Society state representative, Martha Ragland. Paul Greenway, ACS member in charge of the American Camellia Trail gardens, wants to add the Portland Japanese Garden and the Lan Su Chinese Garden to that group and has asked our group to help facilitate that. Martha will tell you more about that. Nota bene—please be prompt for the meeting. The library has had to chop an half hour off our time to prepare for another meeting following (shucks!) so we'll have to start at 1:00 p.m. and leave the room by 2:30 p.m.
Bryan Stewart of the Chehalem Park and Recreation District in Newberg is almost ready to submit for registration with the ACS the new camellia variety (hopefully to be named) City of Newberg. Kathy Lintault and I worked with him on this project. Originated by Dan Charvet of Fort Bragg, Calif., it is unique in my experience, being 1/2 reticulata and 1/2 sasanqua (a product of four crosses, actually—must have taken years!). It's a lovely clear pink semidouble fading on the edges to white with a crepe texture and a great boss of stamens. Showing its retic heritage, it can be very large and its sasanqua roots by blooming in the fall. There's a possibility that Nuccio's will introduce this commercially—we certainly hope so.
'City of Newberg' Photos by Kayla McElligott
For me, it's cuttings time again. I decided last summer I would not kill all my cuttings this year by using too much heat. Well, the good news is that practically all are still alive: the bad news is that it's taken from July to now for most to grow roots (sigh). I will be potting this bunch up within the next week or so. I have others coming along as well and, in addition, I managed to get a reasonable crop of air layers this year.
As reported elsewhere, Kathy, Garland & I are working on preparations for a people's choice camellia show at the Japanese Garden on the weekend of March 24th. The new construction there is spectacular—I wish I could have watched the stone masons. We'll be in a smaller space than we had in 2016 and before, but it is very visible at the garden's entrance and we have hopes for a fine event there. We will need some of your blooms at that time so do what you can to encourage your plants now (Kathy Van Veen found that rhododendrons liked classical music played for them—perhaps you can try that!).
I learned recently (duh!) that next year's winter ACS convention will be in Mobile, Ala. in February. I haven't gone to these things in the past, but based on one short trip to Mobile years ago, I could almost be tempted. Memories of the beautiful live oaks in the city and hot dogs at the Dew Drop Inn linger in what's left of my mind. There's also a winter garden named for K. Sawada (of Sawada's Dream fame) and other legendary camellians that I'd like to see. Something to think about.
One last note—I discovered a Taiwanese website the other day 茶花樂 If this link doesn't work, it can be found on a web search at funcamellia.com.tw. It lists (so help me) c. 1,300 camellia varieties and species with photos. The translation has its own peculiarities (including size and forms, not to mention names) but there's a lot of stuff there and it makes really great browsing.
Well, that's enough for one night. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you on Saturday.
Cheers- Collier Brown
May 3, 2017
I sent an (unsuccessful) email on April 27th saying that Kathy Van Veen had died the night before. Since then, her funeral service has been scheduled for 10:00 on Thursday, 5/11 at St. Ignatius Catholic Church at 43d and Powell Blvd. A few of us watched her actually being buried yesterday beside her father and mother in Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery out Burnside Rd.
Although not a principal interest for her, Kathy was a great supporter of camellias and actually had a very nice small collection at her nursery, some given to the nursery by such luminaries as Les Jury and Dr. Ackermann. Pink was her favorite color. Kathy was a very dear friend of mine and I shall miss her unique personality always.
For the present, it appears that the Van Veen Nursery will continue its business under the leadership of Mike Stewart. I will be trying to clone some some more of the camellias there than I have previously. If any of you reading this have an interest in purchasing the rare rhododendrons or azaleas there, I suggest you not wait too long. That property (needless to say) is very valuable and I don't think it will stay as it is indefinitely.
It's been actually a wonderful year for camellia blooms. My yard is nearly finished-I've been working on pruning, cleaning up the old blooms, putting on layers and organizing for the summer.
April 9, 2017
The Oregon Camellia Society just hosted the 2017 American Camellia Society National Convention in Newberg, Oregon, a small city in the Willamette Valley whose city flower is the camellia. In four days, guests experienced Newberg's warm hospitality, closing with the grand finale—the 76th Oregon Camellia Society Show at the fun-filled Newberg Camellia Festival. In between dodging the wild and windy Oregon weather were trips to Portland, stopping by the Japanese and Chinese Gardens and Cornell Farms Nursery; wine tasting; and visits to the Cecil and Molly Smith Rhododendron Garden in St. Paul and the Lintault garden in McMinnville. At the Lintault's, mid-morning Almond Cake was a big hit. For all those delighted with this almond paste-rich cake, here is the recipe. Hope you enjoy as much as we enjoyed meeting you.