• Meenal Harankhedkar, Director of Horticulture

Botanist's Lens: Petals of Awe!


Petals make spring delightful and full of awe! One glance at any peaking flower bud, slowly revealing the petals, is a sure way to know the colors of the rest of the petals. Well, not unless, you have a ‘sport’ tucked inside those neatly wrapped up buds.

Camellia japonica 'April Dawn' bud

One of my awe inspiring moment in the gardens yesterday was, when I saw a bright red flower on Camellia japonica ‘April dawn’. Hybridized originally for the flowers to have variegated candy striped white and red flowers, almost like peppermint, this plant was showing the opposite! Being a ‘sport’, it showed both stripped flowers and bright red ones.

Camellia japonica 'April Dawn'. A beautiful 'sport'!

'Sport' is a mutation, a change from the norm. This ‘April dawn’ is in its first year of growth and it is thriving in the spring walk. Thanks to the Stanley Smith foundation, we have been able to add new 'awe-inspiring' varieties.

Camellia japonica 'April Dawn'

I also noticed that one of the parents of ‘April dawn’, C. japonica ‘Herme’ is also in bloom. ‘Herme’ has petals full of awe! It has variegated and deeply ruffled artistic petals.

Camellia japonica 'Herme' (Parent of C. japonica 'April Dawn')

Most Spring Camellias are thriving at London Town right now. Few other flowers that caught my eyes were the yellow Hellebores with the pollens dappled down on one of its sepals. What look like petals are actually sepals, an outer covering for the buds, called calyx.

Helleborus hyrbridus 'Yellow lady'

Have you noticed how long the Hellebores sepals last? Petals are more fragile and drop soon, but sepals can last for a very long time. That's why it looks like Hellebores flowers last for eternity! Some mauve purple sepals of Hellebores were also painting the Azalea glade full of awe!

Helleborus in Azalea glade

White is my favorite color in petals. Especially the ‘Empress Camellia’ for it brings out the golden butter yellow stamens perfectly. Buds will be very busy pushing out their awe inspiring petals with the warmer weather. Watch them closely, maybe you will be in awe when you spot a 'sport'!

Camellia japonica 'White empress'

#sport #awe #Aprildawn #Hellebores #Camelliajaponica #yellowlady

839 Londontown Road, Edgewater, MD 21037          410-222-1919         londontown@historiclondontown.org

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