Beginning a new financial year I felt a visit to Araluen was called. Just past the Entrance Gate is the first sight (and site!) of camellias. Wow they looked impressive! So many different varieties, ‘Kalgoorlie Storm’(beautiful formal mid pink one), then ‘Cinnamon Cindy’ ‘ Yushiensis or yunnanensis’ and several others including from memory ‘Takanini’ that Pat McDonald planted when she was international president.
The next major planting, includes ‘ Phyl Sheppard’ ,‘ Yuletide’ ‘Sugar Dream’, flowering profusely, and ‘Lovelight’. So many in bloom and too many for me to count, by this time the rain had started to fall, unperturbed I ducked in and out of the trees, yes they are all trees now and the years of hard work that Roy put in over the last twenty years, and the quality of the chocolate loam have wrought. I know Roy often had help, but during the last years of his life he was the motivator and driving force. The bush of ‘Royston’ a very large formal pinky-white flower is starting to bloom. I noticed two small seedlings under the bush, perhaps champions of the future. I was tempted to pot them up but feel they will be better in a few weeks when the ground is wetter.
This particular area has so many varieties, a bush of ‘Debbie’ had the most beautiful formal double bloom – if not the same – similar to ‘Sally J Savage’, which has not started to bloom yet. A lovely lawned area is surrounded by the Camellias which include the stand-out spectacular, Jury’s ’Girls’. These two have lovely clean trunks and the canopy was a blaze of perfection and colour. A number of others in this grouping included ‘Debutante’ and possibly ‘Hikaru Genji’ with its first flower for the year. There is also a big white sasanqua bush. Opposite these is the solitary Variegated ‘ Carter’s Sunburst Pink’ Coming back to the car I couldn’t help noting ‘Winters Gem’ massed with flowers, ‘Katherine Flugee’ ‘Laurie Bray’, then ‘Waterlily’ or ‘Dreamboat’.
From there, I bypassed the garden where ‘David Evans’ and the variegated ‘Dona Hertzilla Magalhaes’ are planted. Always wise to leave something worthwhile to come back for.
Next stop was above Chalet Healy where my plants from the cottage are growing beginning to bush out and flower. The first flowering one was the one Peter Snell used to call ‘RedBird’ as he considered it to be like the real ‘Hiryu’, As the years have gone past it has developed into one of the deepest coloured sasanquas, Maybe it is the one Keith Abbott called ‘Kelly’s Eye’ only a DNA test would tell the difference. Most of these are showing new growth as they have now settled in. ‘Beryl Hebiton’ the first Western Australian registered camellia was obvious from the look of the plant. The trunk had lost most of its bark but has valiantly persisted in growing. This is an outstandingly large striped pink variety which appears to have descended down the line of ‘Aspasia Macarthur.’ A beautiful bush of Fimbriata is growing in this area too. Closer to the Chalet are a clump of members of the ‘Hikaru Genji’ family, hopefully when they flower ‘Lookaway’ will be there.
Next I went below The Chalet where the original plants put in when first Pen Boucaut got involved with planting on the site: Pax’ or ‘Alba Plena’ as tall as the verandah of the building plus about six others. Then there is a new planting of pink sasanquas, all planted about half a metre apart like a picket fence. In time, these will provide a barrier near a set of access stairs leads up above the miniatures area where the new shade-house has been built. These buildings have the same characteristics as the large structure built near the large pond. No swimming there now but I remember how cold it was as I bravely swam in it as an eleven year old Young Australian League camp person. This area accesses the ascent to the Grove of the Unforgotten, shaped like a lyre and paying tribute to the 79 young men who fought in World War I. Each man had a conifer planted in memory of them.
The original plants we planted years ago when we became involved with the park when we saved it from Japanese developers, are all at least four metres tall. ‘ Desire’ was covered in flowers and the about 50 varieties in this area are thriving, magnificent examples of the genus Theaceae. Roy Campbell’s park-bench is conveniently placed at the top access point into the area above the round-house. It allows a rest-point before a descent down to the rapidly flowing creek. This Araluen is a park for all seasons, a real people’s park, all ages find solace to their enjoyment.
Jean Evans, 2 July 2015