Report 2015

Another fascinating year for Stangate’s camellias. July 2014 and rarely did daytime temperatures reach the double digits at Aldgate. Flower buds appeared much larger than usual as many blooms were now appearing (San Dimas, Magalhaes variegated, Villa de Nantes, Tokyo, Roger Hall, Red Waratah, Great Eastern, Cinnamon Cindy, Helen K, Spencer’s Pink, and Waterlily. My mid-July Bluebells; magnolia, azaleas, and Forsythias were presenting flowers. A good year for camellias; an excellent year for weeds. The first of the July daffodil flowered (Tuesday 28th July). Michelle Size and Murray Corby solved the ‘mystery iris’ identifying it as a Morea/Moraea Spathulata . Whilst researching the web I came across an interesting web site http://imap.livingfynbos.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=1827.

August remained cold with regular rainfall. On Monday 4th the lowest minimum temperature since 1888 was recorded (on the Adelaide plains). Camellias now producing blooms (earlier than last year).

In September a donated, large Bird’s Nest fern was successfully transplanted into the Fern bed; three new camellias (prize winnings from 2013 RAH courtesy Newman’s Nursery) were planted. Bed 4 – Happy Higo; Bed 6 – Slim n’ Trim and Bed 8- L T Dees. Harold L Page (2013 RAHS Grand Champion); many camellias are now in full bloom; Gay Baby (underlying carpet of fallen blooms), Waterlily, Great Eastern, Mark Alan Variegated, Debbie, Red Waratah; by the 15th camellias were loaded with blooms; one (Princess Mary) being so heavy that it snapped a branch. Grand Sultan (brilliant deep red) was ‘struggling, having been all but ring-barked by rodents; it was eventually removed. After replacing some 50 nameplates the camellia audit came to a stand-still as Alan & Margaret Miller took an o/s trip. The audit revealed the necessity to create and maintain a register as we have found at Stangate that identifying/naming in hindsight is almost impossible.

October and blooming continues; Red Red Rose finally flowered; Madame Louis van Houtte also condescended to open its first flower; with the Pacific Coast irises adding colour to the garden (too late for our September Open days). I finally gave up on Debutante (heavily pruned in August 2013); its removal (Feb 24th) revealed root rot. A new Debutante has been planted nearby. The Euston Road hedgerow pruned (one half using secateurs and the other ‘quick and dirty’ using the ‘Ryobi’) and the garden awash with colour (Azaleas, Babianias, Mollusc Azaleas, including many camellias). A new photographic record commenced (updating the 2003 photos); Camellias continuing to bloom include E G Waterhouses (normal and variegated), Tiffany, Helenor, Bea Rogers, Easter Morn, and Pearl Maxwell). Tinker Bell (miniature bed) flowered but continues to go backward and was removed (lack of water getting to the roots). Fertilizing commenced (using ‘Kahoona’ – Neutrog’s specialized camellia formula) and 100 bales of pea straw spread (a departure from the previous practice of spreading in February).

During the summer months, a short period of cooler days, camellia Coquetti became ‘confused’ and produced a bloom (Jan 13th – peaked at 16°C) ‘confused’. Close inspection revealed several camellias showing colour prior to opening (Elfin Charm January 21). In all the camellias looked the healthiest that I have observed since commencing as a volunteer in 2001. February 24 Chogiguruma produced a flush of flowers; the annual leaf drop commenced; acorns fell in record numbers. Some Magnolias again produced seeds (only the second time that I have observed this). Major works included – new bitumen laid on the eastern driveway; chain mesh fence repaired; several new plantings on the Trust Hill (salvias, crab apples, ornamental pears); 20m of Hawthorn hedge replaced by a new fence; nine Cyprus trees (formerly a Cyprus Hedge) were removed and a mesh fence installed. The Lawns were cored; fertilized and the Paddock lawn, re-sown and watering system installed. The watering system on the Azalea bed has been returned to the original overhead system (an attempt to restrict red spider mite activity)

On April 1st I recorded “trying to rain, but I think that it has forgotten how!” The SA record for the longest period (63 days) without rain was just circumvented by a few hours when a few mm fell. The summer was quite ‘deceptive’; no long periods of high temperatures and eventually flowered. The Oak trees (5 in total) dropped acorns like ‘there is no tomorrow’ (the largest crop in several years). Mulched, the acorns make splendid ground cover as it is quite heavy and unlike leaves do not blow away on the wind and allow water to get to the camellia root system.

May 3rd – the renovated Paddock lawn now looking lush and green. The heritage Oak tree was re-measured and lost its status as the largest, to be the equal largest in Australia. Biddy’s ‘Sorrell Tree’ (Oxydendron Arboreum; also known as ‘Sourwood’) has again been spectacular with its red autumn leaves. The whole month devoted to raking leaves; seeds collected from the Bluebells spread under the Heritage Oak in an attempt to establish an undercover.

May 25 – Camellia seedpods (in abundance) have opened and only a few remain on the trees. The two established Ornamental Pear trees (near the Euston Road gate) have been brilliant. The Lola Bennier seedling (yet to be named and registered) has been transplanted from her home to Stangate.

Kevin Bowden, June 2015