March and April are like the 4th of July for gardeners…flowering cherries, pears, peaches, plums, magnolias, redbuds, and dogwoods are blooming at full power. Few sights are more magical than gazing down a row Bradford pears or a woodland mix of dogwoods and redbuds, or a solitary ‘Jane’ Magnolia lighting up a front yard, with no leaves yet to obscure the showy flowers. It’s the grand kickoff to a new year of gardening, and while I don’t quite have room in my already-crowded garden for these trees, I do have a spring-blooming Camellia japonica called ‘Romany’ which is bursting with double red flowers. It catches my eye every time I glance out the window.
This particular Camellia has held up very well in our zone 7 winters. Granted, this winter has been unusually warm but we did have a few cold spells back in January where temperatures dipped into the 20s for a few nights, with some frost. Both foliage and the young flower buds were undamaged, which is rare for a japonica that isn’t a hybrid crossed with the cold-hardy Camellia oleifera or sasanqua species.
Next to bloom in my garden will be Viburnum x carlcephalum ‘Cayugga’, a snowball type viburnum with a heavenly spicy scent. This viburnum is closely related to V. carlesii, or Korean spice Viburnum. After flowering, it doesn’t offer much the rest of the year, but the early spring burst of those fragrant, white puff ball blooms is worth it.