Camellia 'Persuasion' at Auckland Botanic Gardens

Camellia Garden

Petal covered paths, busy birds, bright flowers and snippets of scent

A winter favourite

If you are in search of a special destination for a reviving autumnal / wintery walk - the Camellia Garden is an annual favourite at Auckland Botanic Gardens.

At a time of year when things can get a little grey, come and enjoy the vibrant flowering of the largest collection of camellias in New Zealand. Camellias originated in Asia and this tranquil, meditative garden is designed with their heritage in mind – wander the paths and be transported to temple woodlands of Japan or China.

The camellias are complemented by a variety of trees, shrubs and perennials of mainly East Asian origin. Other highlights are the linear foliage of the clivias contrasted against the autumnal colours of the acers. And in early spring, the flowering carpet of hellebores. If there is something that catches your eye, all the plants have been trialled successfully and could potentially grow in your Auckland home garden.

This collection is constantly evolving - Auckland Botanic Gardens aims to continue to inspire gardeners whatever the situation of their home gardens – there are plans to showcase different growing methods for camellias including hedging, espalier, in containers and for fragrance – watch this space!

Cultural

Not just pretty faces, some camellias have become an integral part of our lives not only in the garden, but in the form of a nice soothing cuppa.

Ancient Chinese legend tells of an emperor seated outside boiling a pot of water; when a single camellia leaf fell into the pot. Four thousand years on, variations of Camellia sinensis are brewed daily almost everywhere in the world whether in the form of black tea, oolong tea or green tea. In fact, some contend that because of its relationship with the British Empire, tea is one of the plants that shaped the world as we now know it. It’s all there – tales of war, espionage, shipping, drugs and trade – all for a cup of tea.

Gardening Tips for Camellias
  • Choose an early-flowering (autumn) sasanqua camellia to avoid the worst effects of petal blight. Petal blight disease really gets going in spring as the temperature warms up, affecting later flowering japonica and reticulata types more.
  • Small-leaved Camellia species and hybrids grow well in Auckland and some are sweetly scented. They are also less affected by petal blight.
  • Camellias are woodland plants so grow best in shelter and light shade.
  • Apply an organic mulch or leaf mould annually to benefit soil health, moisture retention and weed suppression.
  • Ensure show-stopping blooms by pruning or clipping straight after flowering before next season’s flower buds emerge.
Camellia pitardii hybrid 'Festival of Lights'

Camellia pitardii 'Festival of Lights' 

Conservation

Two New Zealand nurserymen have had a big impact on the Camellia world over the last 30 years. Both Os Blumhart and Neville Haydon were passionate plant collectors and breeders producing world-class cultivars that have made a real contribution to horticulture.

The original Camellia collection at Auckland Botanic Gardens has an important role in plant conservation in that it holds every available Camellia species in NZ. Neville Haydon sourced them from numerous overseas contacts and donated them to the Auckland Botanic Gardens in 1985.

Research

Horticulturalists at the Gardens are researching camellia petal blight, a disease which turns flowers brown, through experimental breeding programmes to develop disease resistant cultivars. For more information about our recommendations below please contact us.

We’ve picked the best camellias for Auckland for you, our “star performers”. This selection is based on those camellias that don’t get petal blight – or flower earlier in the year so they avoid petal blight (which really gets going in Spring). Look out for our “star performer” stickers on the plant labels in the garden.

Pink Flowers

Camellia x pitardii hybrid 'Adorable'

Camellia hiemalis 'Elfin Rose'

Camellia pitardii hybrid 'Festival of Lights'

Camellia sasanqua reticulata 'Flower Girl'

Camellia sasanqua 'Paradise Belinda'

Camellia sasanqua 'Plantation Pink'

Camellia transnokoensis hybrid 'Transpink'

Red Flowers

Camellia reticulata japonica 'Dr Clifford Parks'

Camellia japonica 'Takanini'

Camellia japonica 'Wildfire'

White Flowers

Camellia sasanqua 'Early Pearly'

Camellia lutchuensis hybrid 'Fairy Blush'

Camellia sasanqua 'Paradise Helen'

Camellia transnokoensis

Camellia sasanqua x fraterna 'Yoimachi'

Download our recommended camellia varieties for Auckland (PDF, 1 MB).