Part 2: Fire – The Hardiness of Camellias – The Phoenix Garden

by Jim Powell, Dip. Hort.

TreesJim wrote his original article ‘Fire – The Hardiness of Camellias’ in 2006 which would be of great interest to anyone who gardens in a bush fire prevalent area. In 2001 devastating bush fires raged throughout Jim’s growing region of St. George Sutherland Shire just south of Sydney New South Wales. This pictorial article written in 2007, shows how resilient some plants have been, especially the camellias by rising from the ashes. 

No.1 part of the garden site being over run with native plants which I am allowing to happen as I have sold the block of land and I am removing the camellias and other plants I want and either transplanting them into the back garden or closer to the house at the front.

No.2 Acacia cognata, the River Wattle, is growing prolifically after the fire.

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No. 3 show the area of damaged fencing which were pictured in the previous article and you can see that the Rhododendron ‘Brittania’ and in No. 4 Camellia reticulatas ‘Harold L Paige’ and ‘Lowana’ are thriving as well as or even better than before the fire.

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No. 5  Some of the other camellias growing well along this fence are j. ‘Grand Sultan’,  j. ‘William Honey,  j. ‘Strawberry Blonde’,  j. ‘Polar Bear’ and j. ‘Pope John XIII’. No.6 is Camellia j. ‘High Jinks’ that reappeared in spring 2005.

Phoenix Garden5&6

No.7 shows two camellias that only re-surfaced last spring  j. ‘Grace Albritton’ and j. ‘Nuccios Pearl’.

No.8 Camellia h. ‘Brian Variegated’ which came up in autumn 2005 surrounded by maiden hair fern which is now overtaking the garden in some areas.

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Nos.9 & 10 The latest Camellia to make a come back was in February 2007 and  flowered that winter. It is an old favourite of mine h. ‘Margaret Waterhouse’ so you can never tell how long it takes or how dead camellias can seem when you find regeneration off old rootstock that has taken 6 years to recover.

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There are probably camellias thrown into local rubbish tips that owner may have still have had some life left in them.

No.11 is the Rhodo. ‘Marion’ which came up in September 2006, as did No.12 the Camellia j.’C.M.Hovey’ not far away from one another.

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One of the few azaleas to survive the inferno was ‘Rose Queen’ No.13 which came back in spring 2003 after a lot of clearing was carried out.

No.14 shows how much Camellia sasanqua ‘Kanjiro’ has grown since it first came back to life in the autumn of 2002.

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No.15 j. ‘R.L.Wheeler’ and j. ‘Elegans’ in flower for the first time since they reappeared in spring 2006.

No.16 a Pieris Japonica in flower and almost 1 metre in height and width and has grown quickly since its come back in April 2006.

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