The White by the Gate Camellia has a name that suggest home, comfort, and a return from a hard day to peace and calm – everyone wants to find that in their garden. The pure, formal, white flowers of this very special camellia variety are indeed calm and peaceful. Set against the deep rich green of the foliage, these perfect white blooms are pure and simple, yet complex too. The many petals are arranged in a neat pattern of curves, creating classic beauty. For this reason, it is an ideal choice for more formal settings, or as specimens, perhaps paired on either side of a doorway or entrance. The flowers glow in the dusk of a winter afternoon, lighting up shady parts of the garden, and this plant loves to grow in light shade, beneath deciduous trees. The flowers open in winter and early spring, making a garden highlight at a time when very little else is in bloom.
The White by the Gate Camellia is a tried and tested variety that is vigorous and easy to grow. It develops quickly into a bush that may be 10 or 12 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide, with beautiful rich-green, glossy leaves covering the plant from the ground to the top. The leaves are oval in shape, and the end of each leaf extends a little into a graceful pointed tip. In fall you will see fat buds developing among the leaves, and as late winter approaches, or early spring in cooler areas, these will open in magnificent pure-white flowers of remarkable beauty. Each flower is 3 or 4 inches across, and the many petals are perfectly arranged in a formal pattern, spreading flat as the flower opens. Every flower is pure, pure white, with no streaks of pink, or shading into anything other than wedding-day white. Yes, this bush would make a lovely gift for someone who has just been married and moving into their new home.
The White by the Gate Camellia grows well in a woodland setting, in the shade of deciduous trees. There it will thrive along with Japanese maples, rhododendrons and azaleas. All these plants grow well in partial shade or in the shade of buildings. Camellias grow best in acidic soil, with pH values between 5.5 and 6.5. If you already see them in your neighbor’s gardens, then you can easily grow them too. Even if your soil is not acidic, and it is not too alkaline, these plants can be grown well by using chelated iron in spring and fall. This product gives the plants the nutrients they miss when not in acid soil.
Another good solution, if you do not have the right soil, is to grow them in large pots. Camellias grow well in pots, and they thrive for many years. Make sure the pot you use has a good-sized drainage hole. Use a potting soil for acid-loving plants. To do well with plants in pots you should follow a fertilizer program, using products for acid-loving plants. The other advantage to pot growing is that you can grow these gorgeous plants in colder areas All you need is a porch or glassed-in patio to keep them in when the coldest part of winter comes, when temperatures are below freezing. Although plants in the ground can survive short periods of freezing temperatures, they cannot in pots, since the roots are cold-sensitive. So you should bring them into that sheltered place once freezing weather is forecast. They will do best in a cool area – a lot of heat is not good for these plants. Put them outside as soon as freezing weather has passed.
You can find the Japanese Camellia, Camellia japonica, growing wild in China, Japan and Korea. There, gardeners collected many different kinds, and they are often seen in pictures and fabrics. When they were first bought to Europe they were very popular and many more new varieties were created. The plant came to America in 1807, first grown in Charleston, South Carolina as a pot plant. It was soon realized they would grow well outdoors and they were planted in many gardens, spreading quickly through the South, and to California. Although there are thousands of varieties listed, there are only a small number that are distinct and truly garden-worthy. The White by the Gate Camellia is one of the best, and its pure-white coloring makes it very special. It was created at Hyman’s Nursery, Lafayette, Louisiana, perhaps in the years following World War 2, and it was first listed in 1956.
The pristine blossoms of this plant are prized by gardeners, and quite rare among camellias. We have a good supply of plants, but we know that the demand will be great, so order now to avoid disappointment.