Well, all right, I admit that on a scale of 1 to 10 where the Apollo 13 near-disaster was a 10, this would be about a -50,000. But for me it’s a problem, and I’m not sure I’ve got at the solution.
(I am sure that I have a stinking cold, but it’s not blurring my judgement or making me see things. Much.)
I have two gorgeous camellias in the bottom garden.
The larger of the two is this double, and it must be – oh, about 2.5m tall at least. It is sheltered from the worst of the wind by the Portugal Laurel and a perfectly ordinary buddleia, and it’s always been fine. Gorgeous, in fact.
Initially I thought it was camellia yellow mottle virus but it’s not yellow, more of a cream, and yellow mottle really is yellow – or at least it is in all the pictures I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot recently. Also CYMV – according to the books – doesn’t weaken the plant, and this whole plant is looking a bit peaky. Also, I’ve been told that it leaves the veins green – not a hint of green there, though there is on some of the bleached leaves.
Fortunately most of the leaves are still a happy (um, a bit droopy, actually) camellia green.
I did wonder about chlorosis, but we’re on exactly the right soil for camellias and they grow like weeds round here. The other one is fine, and it’s only a couple of metres away, slightly lower down the slope. But this double does not look good, and that’s even allowing for the natural tendency of camellias to look as though someone has scattered them with old paper hankies as soon as the flowers begin to turn brown.
The other thing that occurred to me was waterlogging.
It has been very wet – there are damp patches in the house where there’s never been damp before and all this talk about drought is making me feel envious, but water issues round here are deeply political and it’s my water* – and this camellia is very close to the soakaway. So is the other – but not quite so near. The soakaway is in good condition for a 200-year-old waste management system, but its whole purpose is to let water soak away (dur). Could it, I wonder, be permitting this particular camellia to sit with its feet in water? Or maybe the (eco) washing powder / washing-up liquid I use has altered the soil’s ph? Maybe it’s time to find the tester and check it out. I should also mention that an Acanthus mollis nearby is also looking a bit on the yellow side, or maybe that is me and my head full of gunk.
(In the meanwhile, P and I have dumped a whole load of acidic red cedar chippings at the camellia’s base.)
And I’m immensely grateful that the other camellia, the single, has just started flowering. It’s always later, but it’s usually overshadowed by its blowsy companion. Not this year,
which just proves my theory that there’s always a silver lining if you look hard enough.
If anybody has any suggestions, I’d be very interested. I’m going to cut a chunk off and send it to the RHS nasty things identification service, but I’m not sure I can do much about it if waterlogging is the problem. And it’s so big, I’m not sure what I’d do if it was yellow mottle (er, cream mottle in my case). Hire a cherry picker, perhaps. P would love that – boys and their toys – but ladders would probably be just as good. Big ladders.
*Though I could probably supply Liverpool with water single-handed at the moment, politics or no politics. Mind you, we’d need lots of buckets.