A Camellia For The Non-camellia People

There is only one camellia in my garden. I don’t really like camellias very much. I think this is a combination of their uniform, somewhat boring shape, their tendency to often be pink and their flower shape, which is too frilly for my liking. But a few years ago I discovered Camellia ‘Night Rider’. I found its picture in a book and was beguiled by its interesting, dark red flowers and its cool name. I found a nursery that sold it and came home with my precious new plant.

It is a slow grower but it is worth waiting for. Mine has been extra slow for a couple of reasons. The first year it got a fungal disease that had to be repeatedly treated and later it had to make a comeback after one of the big Christchurch snowfalls broke a number of it’s young branches. Every September I look forward to its flowers. They are not like those other camellias, they are fascinating. They are semi-double, with slender, round-ended petals slanting outwards, allowing the pink stamens to pop out with their light yellow anthers perched atop the ends. The petals are a deep, blackish red and are waxy to the touch and the eye. They are at their darkest when they first open.

I am working on improving the soil drainage where the camellia is planted to help it grow better, but this year I have been rewarded for my fertilising and nurturing efforts with an abundant flower display. I am glad Camellia ‘Night Rider’ has a cool name as it is a very cool plant.


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