Saturday, December 04, 2021

GardenDC Podcast Episode 85: Camellias

In this episode, we talk with Matthew Millage, a horticulturist at the U.S. National Arboretum, all about Camellias. The plant profile is on Hardy Orange and I share what's going on locally and in my garden.


00:42 Meet Matt! 01:09 Matt talks about how he has farming roots and what brought him to the US National Arboretum 03:03 “[I] got to really… forgive the pun, but dig in much deeper into horticulture” — Matt, on his time at Smithsonian Gardens 05:20 “It’s very high on my list to try to get over to China, Japan, Korea, all of the places which we’ve had the collection presence before” — Matt, on having not yet traveled to Asian countries for this job due to COVID 10:36 The Asian Valley at the arboretum is right next to the Anacostia River, making it up to one zone warmer! 15:05 “One of the higher-ups looked down that valley and said, ‘Oh my, I haven’t seen that full of a river view… in at least a decade!’” — Matt 16:42 “I think that the Asian collection there is one of the hidden gems at the arboretum because people just sometimes don’t get that far” — Kathy 17:01 It’s kind of “a hike” to get to the Asian collection, so Matt gives you tips on how to get there and how to come prepared to make the most of your trip! 21:05 ‘Winter’s Waterlily’ and Camellia vernalis hybrids are just a couple of Matt’s favorites in the Asian collection 25:43 Matt gives tips on pruning camellias 27:12 The story of Camellia sasanqua and C. oleifera ‘Lu Shan Snow’ at the arboretum survived harsh winters in the 1970s 31:51 “He has written what is really the bible of camellias” — Kathy, on Dr. William Ackerman 34:06 Despite blooming late in the season, camellias still attract pollinators 35:40 Did you know Camellia sinensis is where tea comes from? 38:44 If you’re thinking about growing your own tea plants, just know it’s not “an easy process” — Matt 40:52 “I really am a fan of letting a plant get to the habit it wants to. It really … looks best” — Matt 41:04 Besides tea, camellias have other edible benefits too — like the camellia seed oil 43:14 Matt gives plant care tips for those who’d want to plant camellias in their garden — when to plant, how much shade, and protection from wind 48:50 You might be excited to learn that camellias have “a small list of possibilities” for pests and diseases 50:14 … AND that they’re deer-resistant! 51:33 “ ‘Lu Shan Snow’ is really worth a gander … It’s a magical plant” — Matt, on the unusual camellias they have at the arboretum 53:25 Camellias come in six very different shapes of flowers, and Matt and Kathy discuss their favorites 55:40 Tip: camellias make great cut flowers! 56:47 Learn about the “lazy man’s way of propagating” camellias 59:58 Matt’s final camellia-growing advice: aim for soil slightly on the acidic side 62:12 Check out editor Kathy Jentz’s new book with Teri Speight on how to grow a garden with a limited space and budget! 63:11 Learn about the thorny and sour-tasting hardy orange in this week’s Plant Profile! 64:50 Garden updates: radishes getting large and some last-minute planting 65:14 US National Arboretum Christmas Tree Sale, Procrastinator’s Holiday Market, Rawlings Conservatory Back on Track Holiday Show, Mount Vernon by Candlelight, and Longwood Christmas

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The episode is posted at:

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We welcome your questions and comments! You can leave a voice mail message for us at: Note that we may use these messages on a future episode.

Episode Credits:
Host and Producer: Kathy Jentz
Interview Edits: Charlotte Crook
Show Notes: Melena DiNenna


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