Yes, this plant is a "she". Not a botanical "she". Just a she.
Her name is April Rose, and she is a camilla.
Camillas are plants popular in the Southern United States extending to areas such as Long Island, in New York State. They are grown in Great Britain, and other parts of the world where it doesn't get much below zero (Celsius, that is) because they can't tolerate too much cold.
I love camillas because they bloom in the winter. Well, many of them do. Their flowers are beautiful. In upstate New York, nothing blooms in the winter, except maybe ice and snow crystals
Never met a camilla? If you drink tea (not herbal tea) you are familiar with one type of camilla, one grown for its leaves.
Living in zone 5b upstate New York, near Binghamton, I despaired of ever being able to have a camilla in my backyard. Then, last year, we found a nursery in Chapel Hill, North Carolina that specializes in what they call hardy camillas. They are hardy - for camillas.
Hardy as in being able to survive a winter in Chapel Hill where it went down to -8 (-22C) last year.
So, in 2015, we bought our April Rose and brought it home. We planted it in a sheltered area in our backyard. And, lo and behold, we had one of the mildest Decembers and early Januaries on record.
Until, suddenly, it went down to -10 F. Would the flower buds, already formed, survive?
They did. The plant, and the buds, survived the rest of the winter.
The buds started to open in April. But one day, we came home, and the buds were scattered all over the ground. Heartbroken, we protected the plant, and the few buds it had left, with a fence.
In the past few days, the remaining buds started to open. The flowers are smaller than they should be, and it is possible we needed to fertilize the plant (we did so last week).
But my April Rose has done the impossible.
She is blooming.
In upstate New York.
She has done the impossible.