Alan Titchmarsh shares how to give your camellias ‘gorgeous’ blooms

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Queens of the winter flowers, camellias are attractive evergreen shrubs that are highly prized for the beauty of their exquisite blooms, their splendid foliage and their compact shapely rabbit. Blooming prodigiously for weeks from autumn to spring, when the rest of the garden offers little, camellias are ranked as one of the very best flowering shrubs. In a 2021 episode of Love Your Garden, Alan Titchmarsh claimed that there are a few conditions camellia plants need for them to produce healthy blooms.

During a previous episode of Love Your Garden, Alan and his team designed a traditional garden for Richard Warren, a 74-year-old voluntary community constable who was known as “the nation’s oldest policeman”, and his wife, Lynette, who suffered from multiple sclerosis.

The team had the task of creating a garden which provided greater access for Lynette, while offering appealing and practical features.

The garden featured an oval lawn, a new summer house, planted clipped evergreen, and a pond planted with water lilies.

To gain inspiration for the project, Alan visited a landscaped garden with extensive grounds at Hanham Court Gardens in Gloucestershire.

While the garden’s design was a lot more grand and on a much larger scale, Alan highlighted that it had incorporated “elements of a traditional formal English garden,” which had been “taken to new heights”.

He said the well-manicured garden, which featured clipped hedges, evergreen and containers planted with bedding, was typical of a small suburban garden. 

While planting camellias from a pot, which had been trained on a frame in Richard and Lynette’s garden, Alan shared some useful tips with viewers.

He said an acid to neutral soil should be used when planting these flowers rather than using soil that is chalky.

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The gardening expert warned: “They don’t like chalky or limestone earth, they’ll go yellow if they’re grown on chalk, so they need a good acid to neutral soil.”

Issuing a caution to gardeners about the amount of sun they should be exposed to, Alan said to ensure they “don’t get too much early morning sun, as it can brown them in cold weather”.

“They’re a bit frost sensitive,” he added. Some varieties are hardier than others as all camellias are not created equal.

However, when placed in a sheltered spot, he said that “they’re gorgeous”. A sheltered spot near to a wall where the plant will be protected from cold winds is ideal for these evergreen shrubs.

While pruning a pittosporum, Alan advised trimming it sometime around April and May.

A pittosporum, which is also known as cheesewood, is a species of flowering plants from the pittosporaceae family.

During the show, Alan also planted a range of evergreens, which had been inspired by his visit to Hanham Court.

Among the variety, he planted a Portugal laurel and an Ilex crenata, or Japanese Holly, as it’s also known.

For an evergreen which can be shaped into a dome or pyramid, Alan suggested choosing an Ilex crenata, which he said could be pruned “without suffering from blight”. He also planted a laurel pendulum firedance.

Alan revealed that the key to creating a traditional garden style is to incorporate box line pathways in the design.

He accomplished this in his project by featuring an Ilex crenata, which he said served as a box substitute and would “make hedging that is just beautiful”.

When planting an Ilex crenata, he said it was important that the soil was patted down firmly to avoid creating air pockets.

Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh airs Sunday on ITV at 9:30am.

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