One of the most incredible group of camellias for the garden are what we call Sasanquas. Many people are not even aware that Sasanquas are Camellias. With this species of camellias, there are certain characteristics that really make them stand out in the garden.
Sasanquas are usually fall bloomers, especially in the coastal communities like Savannah where I live. Our sasanquas bloom here between October and December with the peak bloom period occurring between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
These incredible fall bloomers have majestic dark green foliage as a background for the masses of color throughout the garden. Another spectacular contribution that Sasanquas provide is the carpets of color underneath the plants from blooms that have fallen. Unlike their Camellia cousins the Japonicas, each flower of a sasanqua has a short life span. As a bloom falls off, another bloom opens up to take its place resulting in mass color for a long period of time. The spent flowers that are forming the carpet and the current flowers that are adorning the plants combine into a magical colorful display for the holidays!
Oh, did I mention that many Sasanquas are extremely fragrant? One of our favorite fragrant camellias is an old Sasanqua variety called Daydream. The fragrance from this variety and other sasanquas is truly heavenly!
Sasanquas are an outstanding addition to every garden, so if you have not planted them before, give them a try in your garden. If you already enjoy them, why not plant some more. You might even try some of the compact varieties like Shishi-Gashira that can be easily maintained at 24 inches in height.
Sasanquas have always been one of my favorites. I would highly recommend them to all my gardening friends!
Gene Phillips is one of the owners of Gene’s Nursery in Savannah, Ga. He is a 2nd generation grower and attributes his love of Camellias to his father, who inspired him to breath in the beauty that they bring to him but more importantly to others. In his ‘free’ time, you’ll find him wandering through old gardens, trying to identify flowers or taking countless number of photos to share with others! He also enjoys meeting people and comparing ‘garden’ stories.