Monday, December 11, 2017


I have three camellias in the garden. All are sasanquas, because I feel like a camellia without fragrance is rather disappointing. One is 'Yuma', a single pink and white, 'Mine-No-Yuki', a double white, and the third is a single pink that I grew from seed. I purchased the cultivars from Camellia Forest Nursery a couple of years ago and they are still pretty small. I grew this camellia from seed is 10 years ago. Now it's over 8 feet tall.

I planted it too close to the stalls and now it has a rather two
dimensional look. It has kind of espaliered itself against the wall.

I like that it's in tree form. I didn't limb it up. I want to grow out and cutting and see what form it takes with more room. Years ago I saw camellias in the White Garden at the JC Raulston Arboretum growing as small trees and they were lovely. They were either tea-oil (Camellia oleifera) or tea (C. sinensis) camellias that produced single fragrant white flowers in the fall.

The flowers of this camellias smell sweet, particularly after a warmup, and remain strongly fragrantly for a while even after the flowers have frozen and dried. It's prudent to check the flowers before sticking your nose in it because it's a great favorite of yellow jackets, although the more peaceable honeybees and hoverflies like them too.

Naturally I have seen camellias I covet while driving around running errands. lol Especially one that has small double dark pink flowers in such profusion that it looks like one of my swamp roses in bloom in the spring. I've got to find one like that.

As usual, willowleaf aster 'Miss Bessie' was the star of the November garden.

'Miss Bessie' in front of the well in the foreground and in the big perennial bed in the distance.

Hundreds of insects throng to its flowers when its in bloom, like these honeybees

and bumblebees.

Many different species of insects visit the asters: butterflies, moths, wasps, and even flies.

There's usually some roses until December.

'Caldwell Pink' with 'Miss Bessie'

Fall has been slow to arrive here. We didn't get a hard frost until the second or third week in November. Early color was a bust, although that may have only been true for our locality. I don't know about south and east of here, but the second we drove north into Wake County on Thanksgiving Day the color was spectacular. Bright crimson dogwoods, red maples in shimmering shades ranging from golden yellow through orange to blood red, and pumpkin and scarlet oaks.

The late fall color here has been pretty good. I've noticed in other years when we didn't get much fall color early on, we still got late fall color in the latter half of November through to December. Several of the roses are good for late color. Until I started growing species roses and rugosa hybrids here I didn't know that roses could even have fall color. I have a lot of rugosas, all grown from seed except for 'Hansa', 'Foxi Pavement', and 'Sir Thomas Lipton'. They provide beautiful spots of color in the November landscape. The effect is like the golden late afternoon condensed in leaf form, with splashes of orange, red, and pink.

The leaves of prairie rose (R. setigera) are golden briefly before bright pumpkin orange.

Virginia rose doesn't have fragrance like Carolina rose (that one has a
delicious damask rose and lemon scent), but it has better fall color.

A late turning red maple

For the first time I can remember a time when the apricot maple didn't turn, and it could very well be because it's splitting down the middle. Inconvenient to say the least. One half is leaning over the driveway below the house, and the other is leaning over the neighbor's fence. A hazard of big trees with multiple leaders.

It's been a good year for oaks here. Even the willow oaks turned
a golden russet orange. A beautiful oak at the local McDonald's.

A Shumard oak?

Our wild blueberries, the most of which are Southern black
blueberries, never seem to fail, and finish coloring very late.

Like the blueberries the swamp cyrillas never fail. They turn gold
before changing to vivid shades of scarlet and orange in December.

Blueberries and swamp cyrillas are the last colorful woody plants to
lose their leaves. When they are bare I feel that winter has truly begun.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A look back at past June

The oakleaf hydrangeas in front of the house seem to have been affected by the 12 inches of rain we got last October when tropical storm Matthew came through. They don't like wet roots. I know this because I lost all of my 'Snow Queen' hydrangea after Hurricane Floyd in 1999, when my yard and crawlspace was under at least 18" of water. They didn't die immediately, but by the next spring it was apparent that they were all gone. This time the hydrangea were not in a flood zone and in a raised bed to boot, yet one hydrangea is gone and another two may go as well, as they have shown some signs of wilting. The one that died is one the eastern end and I replaced it with an Alabama azalea.

Picture from 2016, when I still had four.

A few years ago I planted an Alabama azalea after seeing one at the UNC Arboretum, and then it started to decline for unknown reasons. I've been wanting to try one again. They are not only very showy, the flowers have a delicious lemon scent.

My Alabama azalea before its decline

The big beautiful Alabama azalea next to the pergola at the UNC Arboretum

If another hydrangea goes I'm not sure what to replace it with. After the first set of hydrangea died I planted Florida azaleas in front of the house and I loved them, but Florida azaleas can get really big, taller than the 8 feet to the top of the porch railing. I'd put a coast azalea there but I'm not sure they would bloom. When I had coast azaleas in front of the house they leaned forward toward the light, and the house faces more directly north than it did originally. I may replace it with Hydrangea paniculata 'Vanilla Stawberry' after seeing it in Rose's garden. In addition, a neighbor has a paniculata that blooms in the deep shade of a mimosa.

The prairie roses (Rosa setigera) beside the driveway keep growing, and growing, and growing. The 2 original plants that I grew from seed obtained in a Gardenweb trade take up about 50 feet along the drive. Then I took hips from those roses and grew some more. This species is fragrance free but gorgeous and the bees love it. I'm taking pictures of the flowers and I blink and there's a bee. The flowers open up bright bright pink and fade to a soft mauvey pink.

Pickerelweed is a native that I planted in the ditch by the old house site. I love the purple
flowers, I love how much it colonizes, and I love that the flowers are a bee magnet.

Sorrel tree blooms from a row of volunteers next to the drive between the current and old house sites. They don't have the classic Christmas tree shape and flawless crimson color for which they are known, but they still have good red fall color and are lovely trees.

Turk's cap lily, which grows wild here

or at least it did before I transplanted them into sunken
pots to protect them from voles. Haven't seen them since. :/

A purple geranium that I picked up at Powell Nursery in Selma (now closed) several years ago. Unfortunately I do not know its name. Its very vigorous and I've divided it many times and spread it all over the gardens near the house.

A volunteer seedling of 'Zwanenberg Blue'spiderwort

Stoke's aster and geranium

Zigzag iris (Iris brevicaulis) is usually the last iris to bloom in my garden. It's an easy to grow woodland native and its profusion of ageratum blue flowers in the heat of early summer are always pleasing to me, and a little surprising too. Its only drawbacks are that the foliage tends to pale to a yellow green when it blooms, and every few years it needs to thinned so it will keep blooming. Thinning is very easy though; all I need to do is pull up crowded fans. There's no need to dig and replant.

Summer phlox 'Robert Poore' by the front sidewalk.
I moved some there since it was struggling next to the house.

With Rudbeckia triloba

'Robert Poore' and 'David'. Showy, but I have mixed feelings. It's tall and shaggy and likes to creep
up to the edge of the sidewalk and flop over onto it. I would like to add more diversity in color,

like the phlox at the NC Botanical Garden, pictured below.

The summer phlox at the Botanical Garden has a beautiful range of colors, ranging from dark shocking pink to rose pink to soft baby pink to white, some with dark eyes.

Last fall I moved 'David's Lavender' out from under the swamp rose next to the vegetable garden but it wasn't ready to bloom this summer. Hopefully it survived the move. I also ordered four new cultivars last fall. They were tiny; I probably should have kept them potted up for the winter and then let them size up the following spring but I went ahead and planted them. I'd be surprised if they made it.

I want to put something shorter than phlox right next to the sidewalk, but it's something that needs to be able to compete with the phlox. I wish that when voles started eating all of my iris that I had planted next to the sidewalk I had thought of putting wire mesh under the rhizomes, but I didn't. That ship may have sailed, now, as the phlox would literally overshadow the iris and iris don't fare well in those conditions. I still miss having iris by he sidewalk.

Quaker Lady with "Eva's White" and probable 'Indian Chief' in
foreground and 'Helen Collingwood' in background,

(I want to bring back blue toadflax too. I haven't seen any around for a while. It's a host plant for the lovely orangetip falcate butterfly. Prairie Moon Nursery hasn't carried any seed for a couple of years so I ordered some off of Amazon.)

I could try to move some of the phlox out, but I'd have to get every bit. I have moved phlox from areas beside the house where it looked hot, dry and miserable, only to have it reappear, multiple times. It's like zombie phlox. Also, as I mentioned earlier, it likes to travel.

On the other hand, I am pleased with the phlox in the big perennial bed without any reservations. It wasn't even phased by the flooding we got below the house after a foot of rain last October, which surprised me. I'd have expected flooding to end it, and viewed phlox as a perennial there until it wasn't. It provides a bright burst of color during the summer months that is visible from the house. I have to put up a couple of motion detection sprinklers to keep the deer from eating it.

More phlox may end up down there if I can't keep my baptisia going, but that's a subject for another post!

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