Camellia japonica • Japanese camellia (red in M)

Camellia • Camellia • ツバキ •  椿  •  tsubaki

A few years ago, when the plant group was doing a camellia study (cataloging all SJG camellias) a few of the 33 described camellias had no pictures of their blooms attached for a while. The reason was unusual time of their boom (late winter/early spring  for c. japonica and late fall for c. sasanqua) – this particular camellia was among them.

It grows along the fence in area M, the only camellia there, but it doesn’t put out its vivid red blooms until somewhere in May, when the neighboring rhododendrons  (this area are full of them) are also blooming, so it easily ‘hides’ in the color eruption (January, February and March camellias have the show all to themselves, as the garden is rather dormant then).


SJG • 5/11/18 – Camellia japonica in M, next to pinkish white Rhododendron hybrid that arches over the stream, and above pink Japanese primroses that line the stream’s bank.


SJG • 5/11/18 – Camellia japonica in M

From NC State University:  Camellia japonica
Common Name(s): Camellia, Japanese camellia
Category: Shrubs
Comment: Numerous Cultivars are available. Camellia is one of those old southern favorites. It blooms in early spring when not much else is blooming and adds color to what might otherwise be considered a dreary landscape. Bloom color ranges from white to all shades of pink and red. The flower size is quite variable ranging from a two inches diameter up to five inches.  Depending upon the camellia variety, flowering may start as early as October and finish as late as mid March. The flowers on each plant will usually last three to four weeks. […]

From Gardenia:  […] There are numerous species of Camellia (about 250) but the Camellia types commonly grown as landscape shrubs are Camellia sasanqua, Camellia japonica, and hybrids of these.

Camellia japonica is the pre-eminent species of the genus and counts over 30 000 cultivars in a wide array of flower forms and colors. Its shapely habit, handsome, glossy foliage and fabulous flowers have attracted gardeners for hundreds of years in Japan, China and Korea. Long-lived, some Japanese camellias, around the emperor’s palace in Japan, are known to be more than 500 years old. Unfortunately, Japanese camellias are not always cold-hardy.

The blooms of Japanese camellias come in every size, from miniature flowers, 1.5 in. (4 cm), to huge blossoms reaching 5 in. across (12 cm). Their color range from pure white to soft pink to dark red. They come in a wide array of forms and may be single, semi-double, double, formal double or full peony form. They all create a spectacular floral display from late winter to spring. The flowers on each plant usually last three to four weeks.

The evergreen foliage of Japanese camellias is equally prized by gardeners. The leaves are larger than those of sasanquas, usually about 4 inches long (10 cm), and more leathery. They remain deep, shiny green all year and make wonderful dense hedges.
Slow growers, Japanese camellias are broadleaved, evergreen shrubs that may grow up to 25 feet (7.5 m), but more often reach 6-12 feet (180-360 cm) with a spread of 6-10 feet (180-300 cm). […]


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Prunus sargentii ‘JFS-KW58’ Pink Flair® • Japanese flowering cherry

Prunus • Japanese Flowering Cherry  •  サクラ •  桜 •  sakura

It is growing in the courtyard/entrance to the Garden, south east of the gate, composed into a line of plants surrounding the lawn. The plaque underneath informs that it was ‘a gift from the people of Japan in recognition of the lasting ties of friendship and enterprise that bind the state of Washington with its neighbor across the Pacific. May 20, 2014’.  Ours is still young but it blooms very nicely this year.


SJG • 4/10/18 – Prunus sargentii Pink Flair • Japanese flowering cherry in the courtyard (A)


SJG • 4/10/18 – Prunus sargentii Pink Flair • Japanese flowering cherry in the courtyard (A), FLOWER

IMG_0768From American Nurseryman: […] Hitting all the right notes for four seasons of interest, Prunus sargentii ‘JFS-KW58’ (Pink Flair® cherry) heralds the arrival of spring with big clusters of fragrant, bright pink single flowers. By flowering a week or two later than is typical of the species, frost damage is avoided.

Selected for exceptionally healthy, deep green foliage, the leaves of this unique flowering cherry stay clean and fresh despite wet, cold spring weather. Excellent dark green leaves cast cool shade throughout the season. It’s ready to stand up to summer’s challenges: Superior heat and drought tolerance have been proved by more than 10 years of performance trials in Southeastern states.

Orange-red fall color is consistently bright, regardless of geography. Polished brown bark, accented by creamy tan lenticels, and an upright, symmetrical form provide winter appeal. […]

From Newport Arboretum: […] One of the hardiest of the flowering cherries, Pink Flair’s flaming fall foliage is as attractive as its gorgeous spring flowers. It has a more compact, upright form than the straight species, making it a winner for the urban landscape. […]

From wikipedia: […]Prunus sargentii, commonly known as Sargent’s cherry or North Japanese hill cherry, is a species of cherry native to Japan, Korea, and Sakhalin (Russia). The tree was named for Charles Sprague Sargent. […]

Go to for descriptions and pictures of different types of Japanese flowering cherry.

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Pinus densiflora • Japanese red Pine (3 new in Q)

Pinus • Pine • マツ 松 • matsu

Some of the pines had to be replaced as in recent years they were attacked by a type of fungi that didn’t respond to a limited variety of treatments that the gardeners were able to use – the garden is quite fragile in itself, but the presence of koi and other animals called for only the most environmentally safe measures.  Among the removed trees was a grouping of 5 diseased Shore pines that were trying to survive in Q (northwest corner of the pond shore).

They were replaced with 3 slightly bigger Japanese red Pines – one of them a donation from a long-time gardener Lonnie, and the other two previously grew outside of the Garden’s fence.  The new pines require much support to train them to grow in correct direction and they also need simply being left alone after the transplanting shock.  So they have that ‘art in progress’ look right now, and it’ll be a while before the gardeners start shaping them to harmonize their look with the rest of the Garden.


SJG • 4/2/18 – Pinus densiflora • Japanese red Pine (3 new in Q)


SJG • 4/2/18 – Pinus densiflora • Japanese red Pine – needles

From wikipedia: […] Pinus densiflora, also called, Japanese red Pine the Japanese pine or Korean red pine, has a home range that includes Japan, the Korean Peninsula, northeastern China (Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Shandong) and the extreme southeast of Russia (southern Primorsky Krai). This pine has become a popular ornamental and has several cultivars, but in the winter it becomes yellowish. The height of this tree is 20–35 m. The Japanese red pine prefers full sun on well-drained, slightly acidic soil.

The leaves are needle-like, 8–12 cm long, with two per fascicle. The cones are 4–7 cm long. It is closely related to Scots pine, differing in the longer, slenderer leaves which are mid green without the glaucous-blue tone of Scots pine.

In Japan it is known as akamatsu (赤松, literally “red pine”) and mematsu (雌松). It is widely cultivated in Japan both for timber production and as an ornamental tree, and plays an important part in the classic Japanese garden. Numerous cultivars have been selected, including the variegated semi-dwarf Oculus Draconis, the pendulous, often contorted Pendula and the multi-trunked ‘Umbraculifera’ (Japanese 多形松 tagyoushou, sometimes spelled as tanyosho). […]

From The Gymnosperm Database:  Pinus densiflora, Siebold et Zuccarini 1842
Common names: アカマツ aka-matsu [Japanese]; 赤松 [Chinese]; 소나무 [Korean]; Сосна густоцветная [Russian]; Japanese red pine. […]

Historically, this has been one of the most important species used in Japanese architecture. The principal structural woods in most surviving structures of the Muromachi period (14th to 16th Centuries) and the Edo period (1603-1867) are Pinus densiflora and P. thunbergii, although surviving structures also contain a great deal of Chamaecyparis obtusa (Takao 2004). […]

As always excellent write-up with great pictures from Botany Boy, who lives in Japan: […] The species epithet, densiflora, is derived from the Latin words densus, meaning dense or thick, and flos, meaning flower, rendering “densely flowered” – an odd designation for a non-flowering plant. Its Japanese name is akamatsu from the words aka meaning “red” and matsu, “pine” – giving the straightforward name “red pine” in English. Most often Japanese names are pretty darn obscure, but in this case their name makes a lot more sense! […]

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Pinus thunbergii • Japanese Black Pine in K

Some of the pines in the Garden were not faring too well in the recent years, attacked by a type of fungus. The gardeners tried different measures (due to presence of koi and other animals all the efforts were as environmentally safe as possible), to no avail.  This past winter several pines were removed and replaced by new, healthy trees.

One of the new pines is a Japanese black pine in K – it replaced one of the pine hybrids previously there. While taking the pictures of the new pines I was lucky to be present for the conversation between Lonnie, our longtime gardener who just retired this past winter and Pete, our current senior gardener.  The pine isn’t exactly new or young: it was growing and being trained in Lonnie’s own garden for 20 years before he donated it to the garden this winter.  The gardeners discussed that tree may have some other pine genes present (its needles seem to be a bit sharper than most of this species), but other than that, it exhibits  typical traits of the Japanese black pine:  namely breaking into irregular, rough scaly plates bark and white candles (new spring growth), so they concluded that for ID purposes it IS a Japanese black pine (which is congruent with Lonnie’s memory of the name tag on the tree when he had bought it).

Lonnie had the tree trained in more sweeping/slanted fashion that its present location in the Garden requires for the picture composition, so the tree and its roots will be for a while supported to slightly ‘straighten up’ the bent.


SJG • 4/2/18 – new Pinus thunbergii • Japanese Black Pine in area K


SJG • 4/2/18 – new Pinus thunbergii • Japanese Black Pine in area K; note the white candle/terminal bud

From Missouri Botanical Garden:  […] Pinus thunbergii
Common Name: Japanese black pine
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Pinaceae
Native Range: Coastal Japan, South Korea […]

Pinus thunbergii commonly known as Japanese black pine, is noted for its whitish terminal buds that provide interesting contrast with its dark green foliage. In optimum growing conditions, this tree will grow in a generally conical form to 100’ tall, spreading somewhat irregularly with age. In cultivation, it is more often seen in the 20-60’ tall range. Needles (to 4.5” long) in bundles of two are an attractive dark green. Young foliage candles are upright.

Genus name comes from the Latin name for pines.

Specific epithet honors Carl Peter Thunberg, 18-19th century Sweedish physician. […]

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Rhododendron barbatum hybrid

Rhododendron • シャクナゲ • 石楠花 • shakunage

We have only one Rhododendron barbatum in our garden – it’s a mature, 5-6′ shrub that grows above the waterfall in Y.  It’s one of the earliest blooming rhodies  in our garden, which in March gets covered with large and spectacularly showy (for the season) crimson red flowers, which eventually fall and land in the water below – also a pretty picture.

Although this rhododendron was planted in the garden in early 1990s and is growing in its current place behind the waterfall since 2001, until very recently it was catalogued as unnamed ‘rhododendron hybrid’.  Nobody knew what it was until our plant committee did some investigative work and came up with a name, later confirmed by the rhododendron experts as “definitely a R. barbatum HYBRID, maybe with a little R. strigillosum ‘thrown in with a pink something.’” For an article detailing how this dazzling rhododendron finally got its name go to the Seattle Japanese Garden site.

Common name: Barbed-Stalk Rhododendron (from Flowers of India)


SJG • 4/2/18 – Rhododendron barbatum hybrid above waterfall in Y


SJG • 4/2/18 – Rhododendron barbatum hybrid, FLOWER

From Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden (Federal Way, WA): […] Rhododendron barbatum is another of the numerous fine species collected and introduced to western gardens by Joseph Hooker during his historical two-year expedition (1848-1850) into the Sikkim Himalaya. Although this species was first scientifically recorded by Wallich in 1829 and introduced on a small scale possibly around that time, J. D. Hooker is rightfully given credit for bringing this outstandingly ornamental plant into general cultivation. R. barbatum is one of the finest of the red-flowered species for all-around garden worthiness. With full rounded inflorescences of bright scarlet to crimson flowers in early spring, smooth and peeling reddish-brown bark, and attractive deep green foliage, this species has remained one of the most widely grown and sought after of all of Hooker’s introductions. […]

Rhododendron barbatum is native over much of the Himalayan Range, from Uttar Pradesh, India, in the west, through Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan, to western Arunachal Pradesh, India, in the east, with populations in adjacent areas of sourthern Tibet. This species is quite common in the wild, sometimes occurring as solid stands in forest openings, but more commonly seen as scattered individuals in coniferous and mixed forests. It is found from 8,000 to 12,000 feet (2,400 to 3,700m) in elevation and typically grows as a large upright shrub or small tree.[…]

From The Royal Horticultural Society: […] R. barbatum is a spreading evergreen shrub or small tree, to 8m tall, with attractive red-purple peeling bark on older stems, leaf-stalks and young stems are covered in stiff hairs. Leaves are glossy and dark-green, up to 20cm long, with heavily-impressed veins on the upper surfaces. Tubular to bell-shaped, deep crimson to scarlet-red flowers are borne in early spring in dense, rounded heads. […]

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