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“CITYNEWS” gardening guru Cedric Bryant has unwittingly found a new camellia cultivar growing in his Canberra backyard, which has been formally registered with Camellias Australia.
The cultivar was registered in December 2012 and Cedric chose the name “Priscilla Rose”, in memory of his sister who died of cancer in 2008.
The camellias will be available for sale at the Heritage Nursery in Yarralumla over the Easter weekend, April 15-16, with funds raised going to the Kids with Cancer Foundation.
“It was a chance camellia seedling that popped up in our nursery in Yass in 1988,” he says.
“After moving to Canberra in 1990, we planted it in our garden in Watson and it thrived over the years, with masses of pink flowers first appearing in 2008.”
Cedric says he thought no more about the camellia, until he decided to take the flowers to a Horticultural Society of Canberra meeting to get them identified.
“I showed the flowers to Barry di Salvia, who lived in Narrandera but was a guest speaker at the meeting and expert on camellias,” says Cedric.
“He asked me what it was, and I said I was expecting him to tell me!”
Barry then came to see the plant in Cedric’s garden and there began a long process of observing and photographing the plant in all seasons.
“We had to ensure that there were at least five plants of the new variety in existence, that had flowered consistently for at least three or four years,” says Cedric.
Cedric says that part of the criteria for registering a new cultivar was that it had some characteristics not available in similar existing cultivars.
“It has a low-growing, spreading weeping habit – the plant is about a metre high and weeps to the ground,” he says.
“The camellia has a long, free flowering from mid-May to late July with rose-pink, informal, semi-double flowers, which tend to stay on the bush after they are spent.
“The foliage is dark-green, growing in part shade to more sun.”
Cedric says the origin of the cultivar was possibly a chance seedling of Camellia hiemalis “Shishigashira”, with similarities such as its weeping habit and flower colour, but he says he can’t recall exactly where the original plant came from.
“Further research by the Camellia Society, over a period of more than two years in different seasons, concluded this was a new sasanqua-type camellia,” says Cedric.
“I named it after my sister because it first flowered the year she died, and I’m glad to be able to fundraise for kids with cancer through selling the camellias over Easter.”
Limited numbers of the new camellia will be available at the Heritage Nursery in Yarralumla over Easter (April 15-16). Proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Kids with Cancer Foundation at Westmead Hospital, Sydney.