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Stewartia

Stewartia pseudocamellia - Japanese stewart

stewartia_ojussila.jpg

Japanese stewart belongs to the tea family (Theaceae), and its scented flowers, opening in June, resemble those of the camellia (Camellia japonica). Each individual flower lasts only a day or two, and only a few of them bloom at a time, but the flowering period lasts through the whole summer, which is rare among plants hardy in Finland.

The species also has other excellent qualities: it is small, grows symmetrically, and the exfoliating bark reveals multicoloured patches on the trunk, rather like the plane tree (Platanus). After flowering, it produces cone-like hard seed cases, and in autumn is aflame with various shades of wine red and orange before settling down for the winter.

In Finland, Japanese stewart requires a warm protected spot with soil conditions similar to those for rhododendrons, i.e. moist, light and acid. In the right spot the species has proved surprisingly hardy, and can be found at Mustila in Alppiruusulaakso (Rhododendron Valley). It should be tried more generally in gardens in southern Finland.

 

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