In late autumn and early winter, flowers of camellias are seen every day that I can possibly get out into the garden, braving the cold. One day, a pink tipped white bud begins to show color as fully opened flowers turn brown following a twenty-three (Fahrenheit), or eighteen degree night. This cycle will continue for weeks, long into December or until nighttime temperatures regularly drop into the teens.
Browned flowers remain prominent, and partially opened buds are often brown at the tips following spells of cold. Two pink flowered camellias are typically late to flower, with first blooms often not appearing until the first mild spell in January. I expect the same this year, and hopefully there are some warmer periods that encourage winter blooms.
As flowers of late autumn blooming mahonias open weeks late, flowering stems of the late winter blooming Leatherleaf mahonia (Mahonia bealei, above) form in late autumn. Buds will swell through the winter, showing increasing yellow coloring until flowers open, as early as late January, but typically in late February or early March.
Flower buds of this variegated Winter daphne (Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’) are barely evident in mid-December, but these will swell quickly in January, with some color often evident in late January.
Hairy flower buds of the early spring blooming ‘Dr. Merrill’ magnolia are protected from extreme cold.
Pussy willow buds are evident on some stems in late autumn, though it is unlikely that buds will swell much more than this until late winter.
Scaled buds of Red Horse chestnut (Aesculus × carnea, above) are easily identified. The fat buds contain large mid-spring blooms that unfold over several days.
Red flower buds of ‘Dorothy Wycoff’ distinguish this pieris.
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When I read about browned buds, I was thinking it was about the blight. ICK! That is something I do not miss about camellias, and something I dread about going back to work with them. We had to rake the fallen flowers because of the blight. Whites were my favorites but the most susceptible. Yet, as bad as it was, I still love growing them.
Fortunately, camellias are pest and disease free for me, but only a fraction of buds open before the onset of cold weather. Sprong flowering camellias are more problematic, with buds often damaged by cold and too many years withmo flowers.
You know, I still prefer the older and more traditional cultivars. They seem to perform better than the more contemporary sorts with the big garish flowers that are too heavy for the stems to hold up. ‘Purity’ is still my all time favorite, even though I know that connoisseurs are none too keen on it.
Here, selections are dictated by what will survive our winters, and for more cold hardy spring flowering japonicas, which ones have cold hardy buds.
Dear Dave, thank you for the wonderful email updates all year! I love your pictures and comments. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family ! 😀
I’m happy to share the garden, and appreciate your frequent comments. Have a happy holiday.