Spring at Camawald is heralded by yellow – in the many wattles putting on a cheerful show each August and September and by the thousands of daffodils flowering throughout the garden. Bulbs come into their own; jonquils, iris, liliums, freesias, ranunculi, bluebells, ixias and the delightful little tritelias, or star flowers, which carpet the ground.
Ornamental flowering trees are at their best. Prunus nigra begins the display with pretty pink flowers followed by deep purple leaves. Prunus elvins is a delightful shrubby tree, unforgettable when in flower with its masses of double white flowers that deepen gradually to mid pink. Then come the ornamental pears with their pure white flowers and bright green foliage. Crab apples are some of the hardiest of trees with the loveliest flowers – the soft pink of Malus floribunda begins the show with the purple Malus eleyi making a spectacular contrast. The double pale pink fragrant blooms of Malus ioensis born late in spring must be one of the finest crab apples of all.
One can’t forget fruit trees which have their own beauty, heralding the delicious fruit to come – bright pink peach blossom, white plum and pear and lastly the large flushed pink flowers of the apples.
Other exotic trees also turn on a show with more subtle shades. The giant cotton wood is buzzing with bees as the green and russet flower catkins burst open, the golden gleditsia and the golden elm both live up to their names with their greenish yellow flowers heralding leaf burst of the same colour. A favourite tree is the giant taxodium, or swamp cypress, whose delicate pinnate leaves unfold in the palest green. This tree which grows naturally in the swamps of Florida sends up aerial roots looking like a series of knobbly knees – a fascinating attribute.
The prettiest of the perennials are the many hellebores that feature around the garden borders and delight the soul with their modest hanging flower heads in delicate shades of white, pink, purple and green. Wallflowers put on a cheerful show and masses of catmint add a purple haze to the garden. Bold and bright alstroemerias in shades of purple, yellow and red, flower for much of the year as do the huge range of salvias in a large variety of colours, shapes and forms.
Then there are the roses. Rosa laevigata, a species hailing from southern China, begins the show with its large pure white single flowers set off to perfection by the bright evergreen foliage. Other heritage roses follow on – the rugosa roses from China and Japan have a simple charm and musky fruity fragrance and the spinosissimas from Scotland and Europe also have a rich fruity scent. The double yellow banksia rose from China is massed with flowers in mid October and covers the roof of the garage. Growing on a trellis at the western end of the cottage is the very rare single yellow banksia rose, my pride and joy! The noisette ‘Celine Forestier’ and ‘Reve d’Or’ smother themselves in sweetly fragrant creamy blooms while at their feet the vibrant floribunda ‘Brass Band’ sends out a raucous orange chorus. The front verandah of Camawald Cottage is resplendent with the modern pillar rose ‘Nahema’ winding its way up the pillars while hybrid musk ‘Felicia’ is hedged between. In the vegetable garden suckering gallica roses threaten to take over the entire space and during November their exquisite muddled blooms in all shades of mauve and pink are a highlight especially when seen in conjunction with the masses of paeony poppies that self seed throughout the garden each year. Another area that comes into its own each Spring is the Arboretum, set aside for species roses growing in conjunction with a variety of trees both indigenous and exotic. Here the old original roses from which the modern hybrids were bred can be seen growing in a natural environment. There are over a thousand roses scattered throughout the garden making November the most spectacular month of the Camawald year.