Still blooming

The garden’s transition to winter dormancy continues with only a few scattered shrubs and Japanese maples retaining leaves and below freezing nighttime temperatures expected over the next week. Today, after weeks of mild weather, the upper, rear garden is in glorious bloom, but with flowers of camellias (below) that could be damaged if the freeze drops to twenty-five degrees (Fahrenheit) as forecast.

November is the typical period when autumn flowering camellias reach their peak in this garden, and if the current blooms are damaged there will be more to come, though their numbers are likely to be fewer in shorter periods of mild temperatures.

Yellow blooms of autumn flowering, hybrid mahonias (Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’, below) might close slightly for protection in severe cold, but damage is unlikely, even with much colder temperatures as flowers persist into early January.

‘Winter Sun’ mahonia
Flowers of ‘Underway’ mahonia are more spreading than others.

Differences between flowers of the various mahonia cultivars are slight, with some standing more upright or spreading, but all are treasured for long lasting flowers when there is little color in the garden. Two ‘Marvel’ mahonias planted in recent years are thriving, though one in deeper shade is far behind in developing flowers. I suspect it will be transplanted to a sunnier spot in the spring.

The absence of spines on ‘Marvel’ make it much more gardener friendly.

The autumn flowering of Encore azaleas (above and below) has been more scattered, and with fewer flowers on several that are typically dependable, but several continue in bloom into mid-November. The flowers are damaged by freezing temperatures, so these are likely to be the last blooms of the season, though ‘Autumn Amethyst’ (below) often offers a few flowers into December. I will walk the garden several times this afternoon to enjoy the color that could be gone tomorrow.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nagajo says:

    I used to love mahonias but they along with barberries and burning bush are popping up way to readily every here and there in our woods. Have you seen this with those newer cultivars that you grow?

    1. Dave says:

      The late winter/ early spring flowering leatherleaf mahonia (Mahonia bealei) is regularly pollinated with beautiful grape-like fruits that should be removed before ripening so birds don’t spread the seed. Still, I’ve seen a few seedlings, but this mahonia is nowhere near the threat of some other ornamentals. I have never seen a seedling, or very many berries on the late autumn flowering mahonias. Perhaps this is because they flower after bees are active this far to the northern edge of their cold hardiness. I once grew several barberries, but after seeing them everywhere in local forests they were long ago removed.

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