An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

December 15, 2010

Bloom Day - Too Cold, Too Early

In an area known for relatively mild winters and only occasional snowfall, we have already had temperatures in the low 20's, and we have had two snows, with more forecasted for Thursday and the weekend. While this weather is not uncommon in January or February, it's a bit extreme for us in December. I certainly hope it is no indication of what the next few months will be like.

However, I am thankful I live somewhere the garden can be seen and enjoyed even in the winter, and is not covered by a thick white blanket until spring. Despite our early onset, the garden still offered up some color for today's event.

One of the most resilient and reliable winter blooms can be found on Mahonia x 'Winter Sun'.

Mahonia x 'Winter Sun'

Another surprisingly tough plant is relatively new to the garden. Compact Arbutus (Arbutus unedo 'Compacta') has the interesting habit of blooming and fruiting at the same time.

Arbutus unedo 'Compactus'

Still surviving from last month's Bloom Day is Ajania pacificum.

Ajania pacificum

The season of the Sasanqua Camellias was cut short by the cold, but perhaps some of the tighter blooms will yet bloom. The Camellia below is Kanjiro (Camellia sasanqua 'Kanjiro')...

Camellia sasanqua 'Kanjiro'

and this is Yuletide (C. sasanqua 'Yuletide').

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Planted especially for the winter, Pansies and Violas should be in full bloom now making gray days more colorful. It is hard to do when encrusted by winter, but I know they will survive to bloom another day.

Viola × wittrockiana 'Delta Tapestry'


If you would like to see how December is treating other gardens, please pay a visit to Carol at May Dreams Garden, as she hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the 15th of each month. While there please give her my thanks.


  1. Brrrr. I know where your warmer weather has gone – to Maine! It was 50s and rainy. Even our grass has gone back to green. Usually we get about a foot of show in December and this time we’ve only had an inch. I’m sorry for your garden, but it would be fun to have a white Christmas.

  2. Such lovely photos. I love the little bit of snow clinging to the plants and blooms.

  3. Les, we woke up to 9 degrees yesterday morning. Much too early to be that cold. I love coming to your blog to see a bit of bloom in the cold months. You are not that far away geographically from here in the Ohio Valley, but those ocean currents make quite a difference, don't they.

  4. Gorgeous photos, and amongst all that snow too!

  5. I feel so sad for the camellia the most. Your photos are very pretty, Les. I too shot snow photos, but our days are so gloomy, so the photos are devoid of color. Plus no blooms are left. I posted a bear of a winter, and I think we are headed for that. Hope it skips your state.

  6. That mahonia is wonderful! I bet the smell is great too.

  7. Those pictures with the snow are really amazing. We are frozen in SC but haven't had any snow....yet, hoping to hold off for a while.
    I did get another Camellia, but not will come later. I got C. japonica 'Dr. J. C Raulston'. Lots of buds but none open.

  8. Thanks for some additional inspiration. The web says we should be able to plant the Mahonia and the Strawberry Tree, so they are now on my list! I've always avoided the Mahonias in the past because they seemed pretty ratty most of the year. But yours looks fantastic.

  9. Oh my...too much snow!

    Love your Mahonia, I think I've just added another one to my list of must haves.

  10. aloha

    i love your photos of flowers in the snow, its just amazing. the mahonia is a standout


  11. Surprisingly even in thick blanket of snow, your flowers still bloom beautifully!

  12. The other day I happened to take a walk to the Dr.Sun Yat Sen Garden in Vancouver to find a Camellia bush in a state of confusion.... fully blooming!!! It was lovely to see, but worrisome at the same time.
    Your photo's are beautiful as always!!!

  13. Really lovely and thoughtful photos for GBBD. It is interesting that you have had snow while here in suburban Philadelphia we have had none. We really need the cover during this unseasonably cold weather. I just did a post on camellias and one coming up on a private camellia collection. Carolyn

  14. Les, We are in a bit of a shock in the Middle South! It was 9* the other night and I was glad for the snow cover! Love the mahonia and have been thinking it would be a nice addition to the garden~I am looking for a recommendation~ Camellia 'White By The Gate' died in the drought~all my fault...can you recommend a replacement? gail

  15. Oh, I do feel for you Les. I know it is hard to have this cold, when you are not use to it. We on the other hand had been having unseasonal temps here. Finally got a dusting of snow and it did dip down to 15 over night. Your garden still looks lovely . . . cold but lovely.

  16. Amazingly, the ice seems to be keeping the flowers fresh-looking instead of turning them to mush.

  17. Gorgeous photos, Les. You've had snow and we still haven't had any up here (although there were a couple of flurries in the area for a little while several days ago). It's been bitterly cold though...way colder than I can remember it being in Dec. I hope our winter isn't like last years; maybe YOU guys will get what we had! Now that would not be pleasant for you southerners...the traffic would come to a halt and things would be at a standstill! In fact, I bet it was like that for you lately, even though you didn't really get much. I remember living in N.News back in the '70's and '80's. Having lived in Maine for years it was quite something to witness!!

  18. Dear Les, Your photos are lovely! It must be hard for you to accept this unusually cold spell so early. It is unbelievably cold in my corner of the world and no blooms for Bloom Day. So I was glad to see some color in your garden! Happy GBBD. Pam

  19. Lovely photos. I especially like the last one of the yellow viola buried up to its neck in snow. Flowers can be so plucky even in the cold.

  20. I think this is the most impressed I've ever been by a mahonia. I never think of them for their blooms but that one really grabs attention. You have so many things blooming in spite of the snow (those determined violas are so cute).

  21. Oh my, you got snow. I just love they way you angle our photos, Les. H.

  22. You just described our weather as well. This is Jan. and Feb. weather, not December. That is a stunning mahonia.

  23. Les,
    Those are some beautiful shots! I think it is warmer here in New Hampshire.

  24. Sarah,
    We must be having some kind of continental inversion.

    Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

    I woke up to 18 this morning. Thanks for stopping by.

    Thank you very much for coming around the world to see my post.

    I hope it skips us too!

    They do have a delightful fragrance, not strong, but nice.

    I am going to have to google the J.C. Raulston, I have not heard of it.

    With lots of shade in my back garden the Mahonia fits right in, and I love that it blooms in winter.

    Look for the new Mahonia called 'Soft Caress'. The foliage looks like a cross between a parlor palm and a fern, plus it has no stickers.

    I would love my flowers more without the snow.

    They do not look as good this morning after last nights low.

    Vancover is on my must visit list. I am sure it is the only place in Canada where Camellias will grow outside.

    I look forward to reading your Camellia post. I have started cataloging Camellias in my Flickr acct: here is the link if you are interested.

    My favorite white Japonica is 'Silver Waves'. It is a big blousy flower with prominant yellow stamens.

    Thanks for you comments, they make me feel better.

    When the photos were taken the snow had not been on them long, now they look like mush.

    I don't need to tell you what happens to the populace around here when it does snow. Mass panic and bad driving.

    I am glad my color could give you a lift.

    That was my favorite photo as well.

    Not only does the Mahonia bloom in winter, smell nice, but it is also a shrub that can compete with large tree root competition.

    Thanks for noticing.

    Your weather made the news here. I am sure like here it always comes as a rude surprise.

    Thanks for stopping by. I hope our weather gets more normal for both you and me.


  25. Noel,
    Sorry I overlooked your comment. Thank you very much for taking the time to stop by.


  26. Those blooms look really cold Les. I don't think I have anything blooming right now except the pansies. :)

  27. I love seeing such fragile looking plants blooming in snow. I am worried that it's going to be a long winter here, so hope I can turn to you for much needed hits of green!

  28. Love the fragrance of Mahonia. You've gotten more snow that we have. We've just gotten a couple of light dustings.

    Did your son as the Scarecrow have the arm tatt too?

  29. Thank you for your comment on my blog. I always find i very enjoyable and beautiful whenever I come to this blog. Thank you!!! Happy Holidays!

  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. What a beauties those wonderful flowers resisting the power of winter, amazing shots! I wish you a great Sunday!

  32. Les, the snow makes a poignant, yet beautiful comment on your season. Thank you for your inspiring photos. Oh, and I did ask Bear about the SpongeBob episode. She does remember it well and gave me an encapsulated view. :)) ~~Dee

  33. Oh yes, it really cold.. i think snow is good too in flower.

    Just like to share with you a quote...

    "Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I'll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I'll give you a stock clerk." - J.C. Penney

    You can get more quotes at

  34. Oh yes, it really cold.. i think snow is good too in flower.

    Just like to share with you a quote...

    "Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I'll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I'll give you a stock clerk." - J.C. Penney

    You can get more quotes at

  35. Have always loved the Winter Sun mahonia since first seeing it at Heronswood or JC Raulston Arb, not sure which first. Hey thanks for letting me know about the paradis express blog featuring one of my posts. How did you ever find that?

  36. Yep, way too cold for this time of year for us as well, burrrrrr...

    Merry Christmas...

  37. Interesting to hear that your Dec. is cold also. Lovely lingering blooms. Here, just the one.

  38. nice this time of year, any color is sure welcome!

  39. Dear Les, I wish you a Merry Christmas with happiness, peace, love and understanding!