In Japanese the word Kanjiro means you must feel. I'm not sure if that means to touch or to experience, to me the Kanjiro camellia is one to experience. Kanjio is known botanically as Camellia hiemalis and it made its debut in 1954. Touting a camellia cultivar that's entering its 64th year is a testament to both its character and performance in the landscape.
Over the last dozen years I've got to experience Kanjiro to its full beauty. When I was a horticulturist with Mississippi State University I had the opportunity to film several planted along the streets of downtown Brookhaven, Miss., as part of a beautification project.
My son has is using it to give some fall blooming razzle dazzle in Columbus, Ga. At the Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden we have planted hundreds. They were planted about five years ago as a screen for a chain link fence. I remember my first thought was that will take a while to do the job. Now 45 months later my thought is "Wow what a great idea they had."
Kanjiro is cold hardy from zones 7-10, which mean geographically that a little more than a third of the country can experience its beauty. The rest of the country may choose to grow it in a container that is moved to protection during the winter.
Kanjiro is evergreen with dark glossy leaves that seem to be the perfect backdrop for the scores of rose-pink blooms sporting bright golden stamens. You can expect it to reach 8 to 10 feet in height and 6 to 8 feet wide.
Whether it is radio, TV, newspaper or in person, I am always preaching the placement of the needed bones of the landscape. This structure, of course, is only accomplished by having an adequate portion of evergreen plant material. Camellias like the Kanjiro would be a perfect choice. They have deep green, glossy leaves and yet also offer us weeks of terrific blooms.
Like all other camellias they require fertile well-drained acid soil. This coming spring would be a great time to plant woody shrubs and trees and by all means camellias like the Kanjiro. Garden centers will have their best inventory.
The camellias along our Judge Arthur Solomon Camellia Trail are all placed in a series of beds. The canopy of trees high overhead allows just the right amount of light for vigorous healthy growth. It only make sense that if we are going to make investment in the landscape, we need to do it right by putting our shrubs to bed. It is so sad to see a fine camellia like Kanjiro placed in a location where it will be surrounded by turf.
Glossy leaves, hundreds of buds and blooms that attract pollinators of all sorts, including the long tailed skipper butterfly, make these plants high on my list. I hope you will add a Kanjiro camellia to your garden this spring.
(Norman Winter is director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, and author of "Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South" and "Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden." Follow him at: @CGBGgardenguru.)
(c)2017 Norman Winter
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