A WONDERFUL plant to have in the garden at this very festive time of the year is the beautiful Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’.

I have one I bought in memory of a very good friend, about six years ago. It is planted in a large container on the north facing wall at the back of my house. Camellias are evergreen shrubs with simple, ovate, glossy, leathery leaves and showy flowers with solitary or clustered flowers early in the year.

This particular one is a lovely bushy, evergreen shrub with glossy dark green leaves which provide a sumptuous backdrop for the brilliant-red single flowers with prominent yellow stamens. Flowers are generally borne in late winter and early spring. That said, mine has flowered every year at the start of December, through until late January.

They prefer east-facing, north-facing or west-facing locations and benefit from a sheltered position, in a site away from cold, dry winds and early morning sun. The buds and flowers may be damaged by cold winds and late frosts. Their colouring is very striking and is perfect for the build-up to the Christmas season, but the dark green foliage offers year-round structure and interest as well.

It can be left to grow naturally and is a relatively compact shrub with a pyramidal habit, however it can also be trained against a wall, or grown in a large pot, if space is at a premium.

Water established plants in dry weather to prevent bud drop and apply a balanced liquid fertiliser in mid-spring and again in June. Best advice is to top-dress annually with shredded bark or well-rotted leaf mould.

After flowering, lightly trim or prune any branches that spoil the appearance of the plant. It can withstand temperatures down to -10°C (14°F). Well worth acquiring one, maybe with Christmas vouchers or belated gift, if you don’t already have one.

Don’t forget, if you have not yet seen my festive fundraiser for Macmillan Cancer Support , you can look it up on my Christmas web site, www.geoffschristmas.co.uk and view my 2020 Christmas decorations, which have featured twice on national television this year. The video I have made aims to inspire viewers to donate to Macmillan once viewed. All donations go to the Macmillan Horizon Centre in the city. I hope all my readers have a wonderful Christmas, albeit somewhat different to usual. Fingers crossed some of your gifts will be garden related, or possibly even plants. .

Read more of Geoff’s garden at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk