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.

November 15, 2012

Bloom Day - Going Through the Motions

Usually before I write my Bloom Day posts I like to see what I posted last month and what I posted last year at this time.  Having completed this exercise, I realize I do not have much to show you that has not already been seen. Hopefully your attention span is as short as mine and all will appear new.

Let's start with something I showed last month. I can not imagine a garden of mine without Ajania pacifica, but not for its flowers, which always say November to me. Rather, I grow it for its nearly evergreen foliage and tough, very tough, constitution.

  Ajania pacifica

Ajania pacifica (2)

Another plant that says November to me is Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree). This particular one is 'Compacta' which stays smaller than the species. I think it is unique in that it flowers and fruits at the same time, and I also love the reddish bark. Like the Ajania, it is also very tough.

  Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' (2)

Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' 

 These two flowers are the last of my toad lilies (Tricyrtis hirta) to bloom, and I am sorry to see them go.

  Tricyrtis hirta 

 My sadness at the passing lilies is tempered by the arrival of the fall blooming camellias. This is Camellia sasanqua 'Showa-No-Sake'.

  Camellia sasanqua 'Showa-no-sake' 

C. sasanqua 'Autumn Rocket' has an unusual growth habit in that it gets 8-10' tall by only about 3' wide, perfect for the shadier side of a small urban garden.

  Camellia sasanqua 'Autumn Rocket' 

I would like to thank my Cestrum aurantiaum 'Orange Zest' for blooming since May, and it now has my blessing to rest.
 Cestrum aurantiaum 'Orange Zest' 

 I will end with shot of fall foliage from my 'Fenway Park' Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata). I don't know about where you live, but the fall foliage has been spectacular here, slow to arrive, but stunning.

  Parthenocissus tricuspidata 'Fenway Park'

I have a few other blooms I could show you, mainly from the pansies and violas I have planted, but I like to hold them in reserve for the colder months.  If you would like to see what other gardeners are showing for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, then you should visit the event's hostess, Carol at May Dreams Gardens.


  1. Les, I have long admired your camellias and have tried growing them here in my way too neutral and poor draining soil! I am trying again. I bought 'Cleopatra' and she has the sweetest bloom. Maybe, had, it's been quite cold at night!

    Camellia sasanqua 'Showa-No-Sake' is gorgeous...So is C. sasanqua 'Autumn Rocket'.


  2. Hi this is one of the reasons why i love garden blogging, seeing very unknown plants too far from our climatic conditions. Those fruits are lovely, what eat them, and what are the size of those fruits? thanks.

  3. Everything's looking beautiful! We're also having a later than normal but gorgeous fall foliage season this year. Camellia sasanquas are such charming and fresh faces in the autumn garden - feels like it should be spring already!

  4. Les,
    I always love a peek in your garden! Your Camellias are beautiful. Strawberry tree? That's a new one for me. The do look like wild strawberries. :0)

  5. You still have a lot of blooming going on in your garden, Les.

    I love the C. sasanqua Autumn Rocket. Must see if it will survive here. A few of these would be beautiful lining my nature trail this time of year when nothing else is happening.

  6. I'm intrigued by the Ajania, never heard of this one before, and wonder why not. Drought tolerant at all? Aggressive reseeder? Invasive? Needs winter chill? Looks like a fabulous plant. I must also look for that narrow growing Camellia--have the perfect spot for it.

    Thanks for yet another excellent post. Happy GBBD!

  7.'re proving I need to make the move from z 7b to at least a half-zone warmer, to do things like Arbutus unedo or delay fall freezes a couple weeks! The others you show like sasanquas are exotic to me, since we have alkaline soil - a nice change.

  8. The thing I love about Bloom Day is the ability to see what is blooming all over the country in climates very different from mine.
    Wonderful photos of a beautiful garden.

  9. Gorgeous blooms! Your camellias are lovely. I'm always so thankful for camellias in November, when so many other blooms have faded. Boston Ivy is amazing--the color is so intense. Sadly, we had to remove most of it this summer to have our house painted, but I'm hopeful it will soon return. Happy GBBD to you!

  10. Happy bloom day. I like your Strawberry tree, Arbutus. Love those red berries.
    Imagine Camellia season is in full swing in NBG. Love the white one.

  11. I adore Parthenocissus...seriously, I go kind of crazy for it! Thanks for reminding me about the Ajania...I always forget its name.

  12. Hmmmm... Ajania pacifica. MoBot says that will grow here (z5) if I can find a place that's not too wet in winter. Gotta look for it.

  13. Still lots of great color in your garden. Just returned from a few days in Virginia. Weather was perfect skies, 70° temps and fall leaves were glorious. Alas, we're beginning the 'winter drab' in New Hampshire.

  14. What a lovely climate you live in in November. Sigh ...

  15. It wasn't going through the motions for me. You highlighted plants that don't even grow here. And the pansies and violas are done; we won't see them until early spring.

  16. I like looking at the old and new posts as well to compare notes. I remember meeting the Strawberry tree once and I think we fell in love. Such a beautiful plant. In some places I believe they call it the lipstick plant.

  17. Thank you for listing some very hardies -- I will try to find them! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  18. Evereything looks beautiful Les, but the Camellias are a favourite for me as is the colour on the Ivy. Gorgeous!

  19. Oh dear. I think ajania pacifica just became a must-have plant for me, again, for the leaves, though the flowers would be very welcome on a day like today too, so dark and dismal we have to have the lights on! I also fell for 'Autumn Rocket' and have just spent the last 20mins trying to work out where I could plant one, but the only spaces that would take it are east-facing :-( (Belated) Happy GBBD.

  20. Gail,
    I think the neutral part is not as important as the drainage on Camellias. I know there are several that should be able to handle you winter.

    The Arbutus fruits are edible and about the size of a large grape. They taste sort of like a blueberry, but much less tastier.

    The sasanquas keep me distracted so winter can sneak in without alarming me.

    I wish they tasted like strawberries.

    I am not sure if Autumn Rocket is very cold hardy, fine here, but up in the mountains I think it would struggle.

    The Ajania is very drought tolerant, at least by Va. standards, maybe not by California standards. I'd say on a par with bearded iris. They spread pretty quickly by root stems.

    Desert D.,
    If you can't grow Camellias, that is indeed reason enough to move.

    Thank you for stopping by.

    Just try to kill Boston ivy, and you will know how tough it is.

    Yes the gardens are thick with Camellias right now.

    Try to find 'Fenway Park' Parthenocissus if you can. You will love the chartreuse foliage.

    It would be worth a search.

    You must have hit Va. during our last really nice spell. It has not been awful, just a little cooler than normal. Our first freeze was this past weekend, but it was not a killing one.

    I would tell you it gets too cold here in the winter, but I know that would make many Canadians laugh.

    The pansies and violas are a no-brainer here for winter color. Unfortunately you see them used more in commercial landscaping than in most people's gardens.

    When I first saw the compact Arbutus it was not love at first sight, but the fact that it blooms and flowers at the same time held my interest. It was not until I limbed one up at work, exposing that bark, did I decide I had to have one for myself.

    I hope you had a good Thanksgiving as well.

    This has been the best year I have ever had for ivy color. The last few years it has been plagued with lace bugs and always approached fall a little stressed.

    Both of those plants should grow for you, but I wish you the best of luck finding Autumn Rocket.