Best 7a sasanqua or japonica for plant architecture?

oath5(z6b/7a MD)December 12, 2012

I have a new circular garden bed that will be incorporated/showcased in a new raised gravel/stone patio area. It's very cloister/shrine-like area, very enclosed and want the tree to be particularly special. We have a lot of old fashioned Asian plants like hydrangea 'Nikko Blue', a big two story weeping cherry which is the crown jewel of our yard, evergreen azaleas, and others. I'm looking at all sorts of options, and am considering a camellia.

I have put in camellia 'Shibori Egao' nearby, where a rhodo used to be, and so far it's been happy.

I'm considering for the circular bed perhaps a second camellia, but I really need the plant form to be worthy of that circle and such prominence, I've noticed a lot of camellia (like the April series which I have elsewhere in the yard) are very informal looking and more shrub-like.

I'm sure good form generally comes with age and pruning, but I was curious if there are others that make a really striking solo specimen.

I was considering perhaps oleifera 'Lu Shan Snow' but are there any others, either early spring japonica or fall bloomers that get into the 8-15 foot range (relatively quickly) that have really attractive architecture? I was envisioning something rather vase shaped and spreading. Any old Japanese cultivars I should look at? Our house is old, I'd love if it was a variety that predated the 1930s.

I'm just looking over my options all over the board, want to pick people's brains.


- Max

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you won't get the most beautiful individual flower form from a sasanqua (my opinion) but this species has its own qualities as a landscape shrub. they tend to grow faster and can be extremely floriferous. they also do not tend to show cold damage and camellia petal blight like the late winter/early spring blooming japonicas.
a couple that i might recommend would be 'pink snow' for pale pink flowers, very dark green, glossy foliage and lovely, smooth beige bark, especially effective when pruned into tree form. it grows into a slightly weeping form when pruned of lower limbs and the effect can be beautiful when the ground is covered in fallen pink petals. grows moderately fast for a camellia. mine is about 12' tall and has just about quit flowering from some time in october.
if you prefer white flowers, 'setsugekka' is a nice one with larger flowers. some planted at the local university campus are quite tall. i have not had mine long enough to judge the growth rate but i like the flower form that displays the mass of golden stamens surrounded by white petals.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 4:10PM
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the individual flowers of the two shrubs i mentioned:
'pink snow'


    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 4:52PM
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If you can't make up your mind on pink or white, consider Narumigata. Really lovely and vigorous. Blooms are about the same size and it blooms at about the same time as Setsugekka. The bush is very vigorous, large and dense, but it will take training fairly easily.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Not quite sure what you mean by 'architecture'. When I think 'architectural' and 'formal' I think of something compact with a definite shape --- like conical, rounded, or 'mounding'.

'Vase-shaped' or 'spreading' say 'informal' to me.

That said, most japonicas and sasanquas can be trained as standards, vase-shaped or rounded shrubs with attention to pruning.

'Yuletide', 'Winter's Joy' can be trained to conical - both bloom in late Fall, early winter.

'Ashton's Supreme' seems to be more rounded in shape, but has late Fall deep pink blooms. Very hardy.

My all-time favorite though for zone 7a though is 'Spring's Promise'. Mine is upright and somewhat conical though I suspect it will become a bit more spreading with age. It is fairly compact and can bloom anytime from December to April depending on mild spells. Buds and blooms are quite hardy. Flower is a single rosey pink. I think you would love it. If I had to have only one camellia, I believe it would be 'Spring's Promise'.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 11:54AM
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oath5(z6b/7a MD)

Spreading would be informal, yes, that is a better clarification.

Thanks for all the suggestions I'll be looking into them!

Merry Christmas!
- Max

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 12:22AM
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