When I bought my house, there was a lot I had to overlook indoors, but there were also certain features outdoors that drew me in like a bee to honey. The first was the backyard, which I describe in Outside My Window. The second was the camellias.
Along the left border, a row of 20-foot-tall old-fashioned Camellia japonicas tried their best to reach out through the overgrowth with large magenta blossoms. Certainly, a wise real-estate purchase has to take into account much more than camellias, but they certainly sent a clear message: “Somebody loved this place and made a home here, and so can I.”
Yard work is easy when you’re uncovering a treasure like this, so I immediately got to work clearing the underbrush and vines, sprinkling a little plant food, and doing a light pruning. Since then, those camellias have never failed to put on a show. They start blooming in the winter and peak in early spring, and they keep a sprinkling of blossoms almost all year long.
Some are deep pink and some are striped, and all are large and luscious. I especially love the spark of color peeking out from under a light snow in the winter, with the colorful birds swaying on the branches and the backdrop of even taller Chinese Photinia with its shower of red berries. As we say in North Carolina, “you can’t beat that with a stick!”