The call can come at any time of the year, even in the dead of winter.
"You ought to see my garden today. It's the prettiest it's ever been." I can't tell you how many times I've answered the phone to hear these words from Margaret Moseley. Margaret is 95, and every day she's out in her garden, inspecting the trees, shrubs and perennials she's planted over the last 40 plus years.
Last Friday, she called, as she does every autumn around the end of October. "You've got to see these sasanquas," she said.
While Camellia japonica is the star of Margaret's winter garden, it's her collection of the species Camellia sasanqua that makes her fall garden look like spring.
Named varieties like 'Cleopatra', 'Cotton Candy', 'Jean May', 'Mine-No-Yuki' ( a.k.a.'Snow', 'White Doves'), 'Pink Snow', 'Setsugekka', 'Sparkling Burgundy' and 'Pink Icicle' (actually a hybrid, but in bloom now) add mostly white and pastel color throughout the garden. The 'Pink Snow' planted along the driveway looks like a fountain of pink, with branches laden with flowers cascading down from a 20 foot tall shrub. Next to it, 'Sparkling Burgundy', though not yet in bloom the other day, must have had thousands of buds on the enormous plant.
Pictured above is 'Martha's Dream', which is planted next to the house, something Margaret warns against with sasanquas. "We had to cut half of it down last year," she said. "I was just sick. But I should never have planted it here where it didn't have enough room."
From the looks of it, and the number of buds and flowers, 'Martha's Dream' never suffered a bit. I could see on this visit that I will have to return in a week or so. There'll be even more flowers that make you think of peonies and roses and spring.