November plant of the month

A colourful camellia provides a jolt of unexpected colour in Wisley's woodlands

Camellia vernalis 'Yuletide'Colourful flowers sparkle in November – they really do. But at first glance this one looks out of place.

Given its cultivar name, though, Camellia × vernalis ‘Yuletide’ knows it’s meant to bloom at this time of year. With deep red single flowers and a yellow centre, the flower is striking in contrast to the deep green, glossy leaves. Camellias make such wonderful garden plants.

Nestled at the edge of Oakwood, opposite the Alpine Meadow, we have a group of these lovely shrubs. That means that if you’re walking from the Laboratory straight down the path at the bottom of the Rock Garden they’ll be on your right.

They’re coming into bloom now, and have loads of buds. They don’t care particularly if it’s cold or warm (unless the frost is severe). They’ll flower beautifully for a few weeks. The red and yellow blooms are eye-catching – somewhat exceptional compared to other late autumn and winter flowers. There are, of course, a few other camellias around, mainly Camellia sasanqua cultivars, but the majority are white or pale pink.
 

Camellia vernalis 'Yuletide'Shady character


Camellia ‘Yuletide’ loves a shady site, so suits those potentially difficult spots in our gardens.

Oakwood at Wisley is a wonderful woodland area, and these camellias are planted alongside other shrubs and under trees – rhododendrons, magnolias and oak trees – where they’re shaded and sheltered.

Although they require lime-free soil, camellias are suited to container-growing due to their compact root systems, so this delightful plant could brighten up a shady spot almost anywhere.

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