October 2013 Newsletter



Monday, October 28, 7PM to 9PM

Veterans’ Memorial Building

1435 Madison Avenue, Redwood City

John Wang is an engaging speaker. His illustrated talk will feature highlights from his numerous trips to China for camellia research. At home in the East Bay, he has made significant contributions to camellia hybridization, with some of his introductions, which we will see, already registered with the International Camellia Society. His new flowers have won the “best seedling” category at our annual camellia show. This presentation is intended for the lay gardener with an interest in camellias, but the expert will certainly glean new insights from the evening. All are most welcome.

The meeting room will be open from 6:30PM onwards, and members should plan to arrive early for socializing and refreshments before the speaker’s program, which will begin promptly at 7PM. Following the formal program there will be a limited auction of fall camellia sasanqua plants that are just now in bloom around the Bay Area.



Monday, November 18, 7PM to 9PM

Veterans’ Memorial Building

1435 Madison Avenue, Redwood City

Brad is a leader of the Southern California Camellia Society and a frequent contributor to its magazine, The Camellia Review, as well as to the American Camellia Society’s Camellia Journal. His fluent writing style and high quality photographs make for lively and informative articles, which convey his very evident passion for the camellia and a wide yet precise knowledge. The story of his growing enthusiasm is very engaging too. SFPCS is very happy to be able to present Brad’s program, which is not to be missed. A second presentation will be made in East Bay a day or so later; the enthusiast could not go wrong attending both! Brad’s life work is to hybridize a reblooming camellia, a major challenge. Let’s hear about his progress!

This time there will be an informal light supper for members immediately before the formal presentation. SFPCS will provide a main dish and non-alcoholic drinks, and board members will bring some accompanying salads. If you wish to join the supper, please bring a dish or a small monetary contribution; and please RSVP to camelliasfpcs@gmail.com so we can know how many to expect. The meeting room will be open from 5:30PM onwards to allow time to eat, with the program beginning promptly at 7PM.

Roger Reynolds Nursery Closing

The closing of Roger Reynolds Nursery after so many years in business reminds us how important a good nursery is to us gardeners. As we consider how to make the adjustment, it’s worth noting the many area nurseries that have supported SFPCS over the years. This has taken the form of gift certificates, plant donations (quite a few of the premium plants we have for sale at the show are donated), and putting up our flyers on their premises. Those contributing nurseries are Half Moon Bay Nursery, Golden Nursery (San Mateo), Redwood City Nursery, San Mateo Garden Center, and Wegman’s (Redwood City). Let’s give them our support in turn.

Roger Reynolds went organic a few years ago and had a wide range of products of special interest to growers of acid-loving plants. The remaining nurseries may carry sufficient to meet our needs. Below are some local nurseries that sell Dr. Earth and E.B. Stone organic fertilizers.

Half Moon Bay Nursery: many E. B. Stone in 4lb boxes

Golden Nursery: Dr. Earth

Lyngso Garden Materials: Dr Earth All Purpose Fertilizer in 25 lb bags

Wegman’s Nursery: Dr. Earth Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron Fertilizer in 4lb and 12lb bags; also Dr. Earth Bud & Bloom in the same sizes.


“Boots on the Ground”

The “down and dirty” on moving plants

Tina Isenberg reports on her experience moving plants following the September feature in The Camellia Connection

I had two plant situations that had reached the top of the list for my attention last week. In one, a nicely growing ‘Showa Supreme’ that flowers well was being invaded by an aggressive leather fern planted nearby. The plants grow below a pair of liquid ambers and not far from my neighbor’s row of redwoods. The camellia drapes itself quite pleasingly over the edge of the lawn, and the fern was headed in that direction too, forcing its way through the ground cover and clumps of spring bulbs. But didn’t I have the benefit of Cam’s advice? I felt I could take care of the situation. So I assembled my shovel, clippers and bucket and set about it! First mistake: I had overlooked the instruction to water the area thoroughly the previous day. Never mind, I thought, this area is well-watered; I positioned my shovel two feet or so away from the camellia’s stem and pushed hard. It didn’t take me long to get real about my situation. This area is networked with roots all happy about the irrigation and headed, like the fern, towards the lawn. So on to Plan B: could I force the fern back behind bounds? Many buckets of fern root later, the roots growing horizontally through the mulch that I had kindly spread, I hope the answer is yes. The two plants appear separated, and the camellia looks fine a week later even though I had to burrow quite close to its core. I gave it some compost and apologized!

The second plant was much easier, in part because I heeded Cam’s advice to water the area thoroughly the day before. The task was to set in place a perhaps 10 gallon rhododendron ‘Red Eye’ moved from elsewhere. The hole awaited, left when a loquat was removed. I came prepared with a shovel, a large bucket and clippers and pushed the shovel into the softened ground. So far so good, but the ground here has not been stirred for maybe 30 years! I dug up large chunks of clay and a skree of the same stuff invaded by agapanthus root from nearby. My garden is the site of bitter life struggles! But I persevered and created a fairly welcoming bed of native dirt and acid planting mix onto which to hoist the rhodie. Things are looking good there too a few days later. A gardener’s mode is one of hope.

What else could I have done? As I worked, I reflected how it really is quite a good idea to keep one’s camellias in pots among the other shrubs and trees. That’s what the big growers do. But that’s not how Cam’s garden is. I too am committed to keeping my plants in the ground, and I’ll take care in the future not to let a street-fighting fern take over my camellia territory. Maybe..


Camellias in Small Spaces ~ less can look like more!

Last month we read how the Milanis had made a deck garden with camellias and other shrubs and perennials in pots safe from gophers. What if your garden was really small, just condo or balcony size? The trick here is to select your camellias carefully for size and diversity, and also to make use of vertical space. We saw that in terms of perennials and annuals on Gene Fleet’s redwood post high-rises. Karen Bartholomew has made the most of her very limited space through careful selection and display of her plants. Quite a few were allotted space because they grow in narrow places: ‘Koto-no-Kaori,’ ‘Spring Festival,’ ‘Slim ‘n Trim,’ ‘Taylor’s Perfection,’ (and a dogwood, ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’). Then there are camellias pruned to a shallow depth, with or without a trellis; Yuletides are splayed against a wall. A species camellia, C. nitidissima, was chosen for its tall and open habit that allows smaller plants to grow underneath. Lastly, vertical space can be accessed through the use of tall ( 48 “) pots whose tops hold smaller containers for camellias, some of good size, that cascade over the rim.

Karen describes herself as a camellia collector, and of course she has many more plants: more camellias, and begonias, hostas, clematis and ferns (with two immense stag’s horn ferns hung on walls), that fill in her bijou garden anchored by a 16 year old blooming C.‘Kanjiro’ reaching high in a corner. Her resourcefulness has contributed to a very pleasing use of space.


Note: The Camellia Connection continues here its featuring of members’ gardens. If you wish to suggest a garden to cover, please write to camelliasfpcs@gmail.com, noting the newsletter in the subject line. Thank you to Linda Kancev for this article, and to the Wofchuks for their active participation in SFPCS.

Alan and Julie Wofchuck’s delightful garden in Redwood City is graced with many ‘friends’ that provide a rich texture of shade, color, dappled sunlight, fruit, and come springtime an explosion of color with dogwoods, rhododendrons, Japanese maples, Exbury azaleas, and of course, camellias!

Walking through a brick courtyard, one is instantly drawn to the mature camellias framing the house. Alan said he had practiced some of the pruning techniques that had been demonstrated at Filoli several years ago, from which he has had excellent results. ‘Margaret Davis,’ his trophy- winning camellia from a few years ago, was one of the plants that underwent extensive pruning; it looks a very healthy plant, which is at least thirty years old. Alan has also used this severe pruning with success on several rhododendrons that had gotten too leggy and now were full and bushy.

Alan also has many camellias that were given to him by Ralph Bernhart, an earlier member of the society who introduced him to camellias. One of his upcoming garden projects is to create a raised bed on the southside of the house and plant there the camellias that are currently in containers. This area is shaded by an apple hedge that provides filtered sunlight and would make a perfect home for the mature camellias. Like many of us, Alan has lost the name tags on many of the plants so he remembers them by color: “the big red one,” or “could be ‘Grand Slam.” He also has a special dogwood that was planted by Cam and Howard, two more camellia friends.

Under the dappled light of the apple trees, Alan practices the art of gardening by nurturing the various seedlings that appear in his woodland garden, among them dogwood, camellias, maples, and even fruit trees. Along with the established trees and plants, he also has found room for tomatoes, lavender, bonsai, jade orchids, clematis, and rare sage to name just a few. To satisfy his feathered friends, Alan has plants to attract hummingbirds and several feeders catering to birds in this little private sanctuary.

One can only imagine the color and beauty of this garden on a spring morning with dogwoods, camellias and rhododendrons in full glory and the light scent of apple blossoms perfuming the air. Yes, this garden would be a friend you would visit very often indeed!