For the past nine years, it’s been a sorry sight. Just a collection of pale, wilted leaves looking like they’d rather be in the compost bin. To be honest, that’s nearly where it ended up. Bloody thing, not worth the £2.50 I paid for it at Morrison’s, which is my garden centre of choice because it’s so cheap!
But I couldn’t throw it away, I just couldn’t, I didn’t want to give up on it, I felt sorry for the sad little plant. Plus, I felt partly responsible as I’d mistreated it something shocking.
When I bought the camellia I thought Eric Aceous was Percy Thrower’s gardening buddy, I didn’t realise it was a magic soil that camellias love. So I stuck this acid-loving plant in my garden, which, I now know, has alkaline soil. It hung around for a couple of years, coughing and spluttering, not growing an inch. I dug it up, put it in a pot, gave it a good talking to and waited for it to grow. If I had been listening hard enough, I’d have heard it whispering….’Eric Aceous….’ But even if I’d heard it, I have thought it was talking about Percy’s mate.
Thank goodness for Monty Don, superstar wellie-wearer and plantman of perfection, who puts the gardening world to rights and points out where we mere mortal soil-shifters go wrong. I’d got the soil wrong and the wrong soil, he said looking straight at me. How did he know? I reckon he heard the cries of the camellia.
So last winter I took it out of its pot, dug a large hole and filled it with tons of ericaceous soil. This is your last chance, I told the collection of floppy leaves. Grow, or go, there is no try…..
Eric came up trumps. The leaves turned dark green, then over the past couple of weeks buds started to appear which burst into colour, then flower. Oh my goodness, they are beautiful. I’m so glad I didn’t chuck my £2.50 plant. Thank you Monty, thank you Percy, thank you Eric.