Camellia acid lovingWhat could be a lovelier sight than a massed display of CAMELLIAS and AZALEAS. Both like acid soil and the majority prefer dappled shade, so it makes good gardening sense to plant them together.

Other acid lovers are Hydrangeas, Fuchsias, Gardenias and Ferns. They all combine well with Camellias and Azaleas and are also happy in moist, shady conditions. Keep moisture to the minimum required to prevent water wastage.

Mulching is as necessary as ever to retain every drop of moisture. Use acid compost or acid leaf mould, but don’t let it touch the plant’s stem.

Using containers can save water. With their glossy green leaves, Camellia’s always look good, whether in flower or not but do remember to keep the leaves clean.

With careful planning it’s possible to have Camellia’s in flower from March right through to September.

CAMELLIA SASENQUAS are the earliest to come into bloom, and they like some sun.

A real beauty is CRIMSON KING as well as LUCINDA a bright pink semi-double.

There are so many exquisite CAMELLIA JAPONICAS available, it’s hard to know which one’s to choose.

LAURIE BRAY flowers early and superbly, but do put her in the shade or else the buds will burn. Pure white SHIRO CHAN is ideal in a container and will bloom in mid winter.

Camellias standardize well, and look good both in the open ground or in pots. If other plants are to be used around the base, be careful of the rootball. Camellias don’t like their roots to be disturbed.

AZALEAS, or RHODODENDRONS as they’re now called, like well drained soil, but they don’t like manure.

Regular feeding is most important and special Azalea food from your nurseryman should be used. To limit the amount of overhead spraying required, plant in a cool, shady area.

Azaleas have such lovely colours… white, lilac, pink, salmon and red. Some are plain while others are two toned, some single and others double.

RUTH KIRK is salmon and white and flowers for weeks on end as does CLAUDE GOYET, a deep red double.

For small gardens or patios, the KARUME Azaleas are an excellent choice. Just make sure that the soil doesn’t dry out in the containers.

Imagine Christmas without HYDRANGEAS – our shady beds just wouldn’t be the same! To achieve those magnificent pink and blue flower-heads, pruning must be done at the beginning of August! Remove any sickly or twiggy growth and old gnarled stems.

New wood should be pruned back to the first pair of healthy buds. After pruning, give each bush a good dressing of well-rotted manure. Start feeding with special Hydrangea food.

The colour of the blooms is dependent on the pH of the soil – acid soils for blue and alkaline for pink.

The “OAKLEAF” Hydrangea, HYDRANGEA QUERCIFOLIA, is an excellent garden plant and will thrive in sun or shade. In a protected site, the leaves will remain on the bush in winter, turning to a lovely shade of bronzy-brown.

“Ballerinas of the garden” is the affectionate name given to FUCHSIAS, surely the most graceful of all our plant varieties. Colourings and colour combinations are endless.

The growth habit of Fuchsias varies – some grow well into upright bushes while others trail and look lovely in hanging baskets. This can help save water. If trained correctly, they can be turned into majestic standards or look equally spectacular in a container.

In the garden, group water-loving plants together to reduce water-wastage.