Few gardeners are oblivious to the seductive charm of the Camellia. When you see those exotic, opulent blooms set against glossy evergreen foliage it’s easy to see why camellias were suffocated in glasshouses when they were first introduced into cultivation. But despite their appearance camellias are remarkably hardy and are wonderful long-term garden plants that give years of pleasure.
The growth habit of camellias varies: some are broad and lax, some upright and more compact. For most gardens it is the latter that are more useful, and no camellia has a better growth habit for a pot or for the smaller garden than the delicious Camellia japonica ‘Jury’s Yellow’. I have to admit that this is my favourite variety; one that I have grown and loved for many years, one that never fails to please and perform. If like me you have a penchant for cream and white flowers this one is a must!
The blooms are the colour of clotted cream with larger outer petals and smaller petals crowding the centre of the flower. Known as anemoniform, I find this type of flower form more weather resistant than classic single and double varieties. The blooms are upward or outward facing carried on the strong upright stems and presented against glossy dark green leaves.
‘Jury’s Yellow’ is lovely on its own, or you could group it with pots containing other evergreen shrubs. Another favourite of mine Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ would work really well in a pot alongside it. This skimmia has lighter emerald-green leaves and clusters creamy-green buds through winter. In early spring these open into lilac-like sprays of creamy-yellow flowers with a delicious scent reminiscent of lily-of-the-valley. I really think this is one of the best shrubs to grow for spring fragrance.
The colour theme of the skimmia and camellia could be accentuated by the addition of a cream-variegated evergreen. Euonymus fortunei ‘Silver Queen’ is always a winner in a shady spot, however I might be tempted to go for the lovely Pieris ‘Little Heath’. This has small silver and sage variegated leaves that would contrast well with both larger-leaved evergreens. I have grown this pieris in a pot for a number of years and it stays looking good with minimum attention. Pot it in the same lime-free compost as the camellia.