Yes, there are flowers

In mid-November, leaves have fallen, seemingly wrenched from trees’ grip by persistent autumn downpours and chilly breezes. Leaves colored late, then fell in a huff, accumulating in soggy heaps in this garden, a less than graceful entrance into dormancy.

One, then another ‘Jelena’ witch hazel have flowered in autumn rather than in the more typical mid-February. Other witch hazels show no sign that flowering is imminent, and several branches of two ‘Jelena’ shrubs have buds that will not open, hopefully, until late winter.
Occasional flowers in late autumn are not unusual on ‘Ogon’ spirea. This will not effect the shrub’s prolific blooming in March.

Unquestionably, there is beauty in the garden through the year. If not a flower or brilliantly colored leaf, a bud or bark might capture the gardener’s fancy as autumn fades to winter. Still, despite November freezes, there are flowers. Camellias (below) and mahonias are planned for late autumn blooms, but there are also accidents, late winter flowering spireas (above) and witch hazels (at top) provoked into bloom by a confluence of weather events.

A pink tipped bud of the white flowering ‘Winter’s Snowman’ camellia, ready to flower in mid-November.
Winter's Star camellia
Flowers of Winter’s Star camellia were injured to varying degrees in recent freezes, but there are many more buds that will open in the weeks to come.

Sturdy and long blooming hybrid daphnes (Daphne x transatlantica), flowering since March to varying degrees, remain in scattered bloom despite a twenty-three degree (Fahrenheit) night and others well below the freezing mark. A night or two with temperatures in the teens will put an end to this. Flowers of camellias are browned by low twenty degree nights, but there will be more flowers with any period of milder temperatures.

‘Jim’s Pride’ daphne was a spring addition. In a less ideal planting location with too little sun or soil that is too damp, daphnes will sulk, not dying, but not growing. This one has nearly doubled in size since spring.
With the discovery of a successful formula for planting daphnes, a second and third ‘Summer Ice’ were planted in late summer.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Linus says:

    And what is your forms for successful daphne growing?

    1. Dave says:

      The formula is not how, but where. Several hours of sun, but not afternoon sun, and well drained, dry ground. There is one such area in the garden, so I will plant as many daphnes here as will fit.

  2. LInus says:

    Does this work for large daphne? My understanding is that they hate being transplanted, so you need to start with “seedlings.”

  3. Dave says:

    Three planted in spring were between 15 and 24 inches tall. Carol Mackie and variegated Daphne odora seem more finicky, but my experience with tranasatlantica hybrids is that they are much easier. Also, longer blooming than other daphnes.

    1. Dave says:

      I would like to plant Brigg’s Moonlight, but have not been able to find any with size. I dislike planting 3 and 4 inch pots, but this is next on the list for spring, so I’ll get the largest I can find.

  4. tonytomeo says:

    Back when we grew daphne, we grew only Daphne odorata ‘Variegata’. It was the standard cultivar. There were fewer cultivars back then, and they were too obscure to bother with. Somehow, they did reasonably well for us. However, it was weirdly difficult to get our own plants to transition into the arboretum. We got all our cutting from the same old tired stock plants that were planted in 1974. They survived by falling over and rooting their lower stems into the ground before the original plants died. Although it is too risky in our area for me to bother with in my own garden, I am pleased that our clients liked them so much. We have not grown them for years. Other growers produce more interesting cultivars now.

    1. Dave says:

      Two Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ grow with less vigor than hybrids in this garden. These are marginally cold hardy, with significant damage to stems and flower buds when temperatures drop a few degrees below zero. One Winter daphne is planted beside the driveway, and several times it has been buried under deep snow piled as the driveway is cleared. Remarkably, stems are bent almost flat, but the rubbery stems bounce back quickly after the snow melts. This one grows with no significant difference compared to one that is beside a path that is never cleared.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        Our were actually ‘Aureomarginata’, not ‘Variegata’. oops. It is odd how they can be so temperamental in the right situation, but so resilient in the wrong situation. I gave one to my colleague in Southern California, and he planted it under the exhaust for the laundry drier. It did very well there!

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