A chill in the air

There are excellent reasons to garden in an area with distinct changes of seasons, but that doesn’t mean I must be happy that nighttime lows are now falling regularly into the twenties (Fahrenheit). I prefer the milder temperatures of October, but my vote counts for nothing on this matter, of course, and I’m uncertain if chilly and dry is better or worse than another week of mild and wet.

Flowers of camellias are not damaged after a twenty-three degree night, but blooms of azaleas and toad lilies (Tricyrtis) have turned brown. White flowered camellias (Camellia ‘Winter’s Snowman’, above), typically earlier than pinks in this garden, are now blooming weeks after the first pink camellias, and without severe cold flowering of white and pink camellias is likely to continue for weeks.

Though it flowers in early spring, the few stray blooms of the yellow leafed ‘Ogon’ spirea (Spirea thunbergii ‘Ogon’, above) are not unusual in mid-November, and occasionally through the winter months. More than once, I’ve expected this would diminish spring flowering, but if so, the effect is slight.

After a slow start, foliage colors of Japanese maples have delighted in recent weeks. But today, following repeated rains and chilly breezes, the garden is carpeted by colorful leaves (below).

Leaves of the Bloodgood Japanese maple cover the front walk. In days these will turn brown, and then the walk must be swept clean.
Autumn colors of the Fernleaf Japanese maple (Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’) were brilliant, and delightful even fallen on path stones for a several days.


Leaves of the Linearilobum Japanese maple fallen onto basalt steps in the rear garden.
Leaves of the Bloodgood Japanese maple over yellow leafed Creeping Jenny.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    The Japanese maple foliage is so RAD! Although we grow them at the farm, I dislike Japanese maples. They do not do well in the arid inland climates. They really should be as popular here as they are. By now, most Japanese maple foliage is roasted. It just does not color as reliable for us. We happen to get enough chill, but not enough humidity.

    1. Dave says:

      Red leafed Japanese maples like Bloodgood, in particular ones newly planted, fade badly in our summer heat. Ones that are well established fade less, but all turn darker in autumn. Green and variegated leaf Japanese maples perform more consistently, though ones with cream and light pink leaves such as Ukigumo must be shaded or they fade quickly to green by mid spring. A few of the maples in my garden change color in early autumn, but most are later than other trees. In mid November a few maples have just begun coloring, and these have not dropped any leaves.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        That is interesting that the red or bronzed ones fade. I think of that as a result of the aridity more than temperature. It does not get very hot here. When it gets more than 100 degrees, it does not stay so warm for long, and tends to get cooler at night. However, the humidity is usually quite minimal.

      2. Dave says:

        I assume that heat, humidity, and unfiltered sunlight are all stress factors that fade bold colors. I see many yellow needled conifers in the northwest that fade badly in our area, but not so much in the cooler northeast. Further into the southeastern US, Japanese maples must be grown in shade. Here, a bit of shade is helpful for red leafed maples.

      3. tonytomeo says:

        I think that in regard to Japanese maples, a lack of humidity is more of a stress factor than humidity.

  2. Melinda Cox says:

    Gorgeous! I don’t think I have ever commented before and I just wanted you to know I always read your emails and look forward to pictures from your garden. Thank you for sharing and thank you for your time! Happy Holidays❤️

    1. Dave says:

      It’s good to hear from you. Thanks for reading.

  3. C says:

    Absolutely stunning! Autumn is my favorite season, and for good reason – the colors are spectacular from the changes taking place in the landscape. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Dave says:

      This is not my favored time of the year, but autumn foliage colors and flowers of camellias and mahonias make it bearable.

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