In 2001, Clarence and Lillian Gordy gave the world of gardening one of its greatest gifts when they registered and introduced their outstanding camellia seedling called ‘Early Autumn’! I was so fortunate to have had these two wonderful people as friends and and mentors for many years. Although both passed away several years ago, their love and passion for camellias will remain in my heart forever!
This incredible japonica is a dense upright plant with beautiful olive green foliage. It has a moderate growth rate which enables us to maintain this outstanding plant a little lower than most camellias. But, what makes ‘Early Autumn’ one of the 7 Wonders of the Camellia World is it’s early and long blooming season. Our plants in Savannah usually begin blooming during the last part of September and continue to bloom through February, and that is fairly unusual for a japonica. And,..the flowers are incredible! No wonder, everyone that sees this wonderful camellia falls in love with it instantly.
Recently, a large plant distributor added this variety to their offerings, but added a slightly different marketing name to the plant. It is nice to see ‘Early Autumn’ being sold and distributed to so many more gardeners these days. I am sure that the Gordys would be very proud of how far their child has come. Who knows? Maybe one day, ‘Early Autumn’ will become the Greatest Wonder of them all. Until then, stop in soon at our nursery and pick up a few plants for your garden. You will be glad that you did!
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.