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, 2008

Bloom Day Hangers-on and Harbingers

The weather here has not been great with lots of rain and clouds, but fortunately we have not had any really cold temperatures yet. The crickets are still singing and we have yet to have a serious frost or freeze. As a result, my garden has quite a few summer hanger-ons still blooming and confused tropicals. Although their days are numbered, I have not pulled out my impatiens, sweet potato vines and zinnias. However, there is seasonal color as well as the beginnings of the winter garden.

Several years ago, I purchased this okra cousin, Abelmoschus manihot. I never thought it would come back since it is tropical, but it always sets enough seed to come up somewhere. I do not have a picture of it fully open, but it looks like a hibiscus (which it used to be classified as) and the moon yellow petals have a dark purple black eye.
Another more tropical plant that blooms in late fall is the Candy Corn Cuphea (Cuphea micropetala). I showed this in a previous bloom day post in the spring when it was blooming out of season.
I do not know what the name of this Iris is, but it is one of the re-blooming varieties. It ought to be called Black Hole because it is so dark. I took at least 12 pictures to get one to come close to the real color. The camera kept auto-correcting the exposure.
Dichroa febrifuga is sometimes called the Evergreen Hydrangea, and it is a Hydrangea cousin, and it does hang on to its foliage in the winter, but that foliage could not be called attractive. The flowers are dainty little blossoms that can either be pink or blue depending on soil pH and while not ugly, they will not stop traffic. The real show is in the fall when the fruit ripens.
Hardy plumbago (Ceratistigma plumbaginoides) has been blooming for several months now.
This is Fatsia japonica 'Spider Web', and while it is not the showiest flower, it is interesting. This variegated cultivar gets its name from the foliage, but it kind of looks like spider mite damage.

I showed the Green and Gold Chrysanthemum (Ajania pacificum) last bloom day when it was in bud. It is just now starting to open and the bees and flies that are still around, are enjoying it.
This is one of the latest additions to the garden, Arbutus unedo 'Compacta', it was a much appreciated gift from my co-workers. I like that it is evergreen, has great reddish bark and bears flowers and fruit at the same time.
Camellia season is just getting underway with the blooming of the sasanquas. This one is Camellia sasanqua 'Autumn Rocket', which was developed locally at Bennetts Creek Nursery. Most of the Camellias in my yard came from this grower, it is one of their specialties. What is special about 'Autumn Rocket' is its size - it gets 8' tall but only 2-3' wide, great for gardeners with limited space.

Finally, my last shot is Camellia sasanqua 'Showa-No-Sake' with the dried blossom of Hydrangea macrophylla 'Sun Goddess' in the background.
Please head over to visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see what other people are posting for November Bloom Day, and be sure to thank her for hosting.


  1. Hiya Les,

    Like the title!

    And such a festive Bloomday post.

    Isn't it irritating when one's camera decides to know better than you do.

    I am very fond of my Arbutus unedo. Ours is, sorry, are (it has offspring now), rosea and I would like to have a companion white one like yours. Are your berries free from black gunge? Mine were spoilt last year. Hope they will be better this winter.

    Passers-by get a treat with your Camellia so close to the pavement.

  2. It's been a yucky week with this persistant rain. But your blooms are quite lovely today for GBBD! The Camelias are gorgeous. I need to add one to my own garden. You always have intesting plants that I've never grown, thanks for sharing.

  3. I love your blog. The photos are beautiful and inspiring. It is fun for me to follow as we vacation in your area every summer!

  4. Where to begin? I learn so much from your blog. All neat plants.

    I simply love the iris and camelias. Camelias are my favorite shrub. If I ever get there I will have to visit your local nursery.

    The fatsia and plumbago both interest me too. I have grown both. Neither survives here, at least not in my garden:( It might be the gardener though. I think it is too cold? Do you shelter them? And they reliably come back? I would really like to try fatsia again. Gave up on the plumbago though, it sure is a lovely bloomer. Spider web and spider mite damage. Have to smile at the truthfulness of that one.

  5. What an interesting group of plants you have — virtually none of them familiar to me (except by name) in my zone 5 garden in southern Wisconsin. Things are pretty much over here until March or April so these bloom days from warmer climes are really a boost to the spirit.

  6. Hi, Les--I second (or I guess it's sixth!) the other commenters--I come away from your postings with shopping lists! I've never had any luck with fatsia, even though plenty of people around here grow them--do they need special conditions? Enjoy the warm weather today--I hear we're dropping 20 dgrees tomorrow! Best, C.

  7. My guess is that the re-blooming iris is Eleanor Roosevelt.

  8. Les, I agree with Joco - great title! Your garden is as wet as mine only yours is still blooming. This is when you are very happy to live in the south. Beautiful photos of interesting plants.

  9. Great post, Les! While we both enjoy "Lake Effect," I think that I would prefer your zone to mine, especially in November.

    And especially because of that beautiful camellia. I know that there are camellias that are supposedly hardy to zone 6. And someday I'll test those hardiness claims, I think. But until then, I'll keep drooling over those shown by warmer-climate gardeners like you.

  10. Jo,
    My Arbutus is just a young thing and not ready to bear fruit. We have one at work that is mature and I have only seen grunge on the fruits once when we had an unusually we summer and fall.

    You definately need to get a Camellia in your garden. Just be forwarned that once you get one growing, you will want to add another and another.

    Thank you for stopping by.

    Fatsia is a zone 8 or 7b at best. It must have some shade, and will even take dense shade. Despite the large tropical leaves, it is very drought tolerant and can compete with shade tree roots. The plumbago I grow should be hardy for you. The more common plumbago would not be hardy for me or you.

    Thank you for visiting. I am sure your part of the world is lovely, but I could not handle such a long winter. I think it is too long here!

    I would try the Fatsia again. Do you have a protected shady corner somewhere? As I am writing this, it has indeed dropped more than 20 degrees since yesterday morning. I guess winter is inevitable.

    Sweet Bay,
    Thank you for the suggestion. I have a lot of iris, and never write down the names. I know I need do so.

    Thanks for the compliments, and for the record, I am always happy to live in the south.

    Thank you for visiting. When you are ready to experiment with Camellias, make sure you look for one of the Dr. Ackerman hybrids. They are the most cold tolerant.


  11. Les, you have a lot of beautiful plants blooming their hearts out. I wish I could smell some of them. Scent is one of the things I most miss.~~Dee

  12. I love your site. I'm not too much further north than you...but there is a difference in our garden-zones. Though the weather is not too dissimilar, it does get a bit colder up here in Northern VA! I used to live down where you are, so I have some experience in that area!

  13. You have some pretty flowers there still! I love your blog, and have bookmarked it so I can go back after I see all the GBBD blogs. I like the way you talk about the photos above them, rather than below, like I've noticed a lot do. I find it easier to follow.

  14. Beautiful color in the garden for Fall. I did not know of the re-blooming Irish and i find that interesting. Our camellias are blooming now also. I have no idea what type we have as they were here when we moved in the house. Just 4 bushes with tons of pretty white blooms…

  15. It's always interesting to see what you have blooming in your garden. The variety is amazing!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  16. Great post as always. I'm surprised that you can grow fatsia! I have one that has survived one winter but it just isn't growing very much.

    I think I want the Showa No Sakae (not sure if I spelled that right) camellia for a spot that needs a low growing shrub. How tall does yours get?

  17. 'Candy Corn' is a great name for that Cuphea. Your lousy weather made for wonderful photos with rich, saturated tones (once your camera decided to cooperate). Your Camellias are so pretty, they remind me of Roses.

  18. Dee,
    There is not too much fragrance in the garden, mostly it smells of wet leaves. The iris smells of spring and the sasanquas have a very distinct, but pleasant aroma.

    Thanks for visiting. You are correct, we are not that far away, but it is another world climate wise. We do have a lot in common, large military communities and our 2 regions are largely responsible for Virginia going blue this year.

    I appreciate you stopping by. It is easier and makes more sense to me to do the pictures this way, especially since you scroll down from the top.

    There are lots of bearded iris that rebloom in the fall. I can not recommend any to you as different varieties behave differently in different areas. If you are interested ask a local nursery if they know which ones will do best in your area. If you find some, it is best to cut them for a vase so the plant can put its energy back into the bulb.

    Thank you for coming by. If I was wearing a hat, I would take it off to you, for I know what a task it must be to visit all GBBD posters.

    We have no trouble growing fatsia here. This part of Va. is insulated from the winter by the Atlantic and the Chesapeake and we are a zone 8. If you travel 25 miles inland it you will be in zone 7 with a colder winter and hotter summer. My Showa-no-sake is about 3-4' tall by 5' wide after about 8 years in the ground. Chansonette, Bonanza, Shishigashira and Mini-no-yuki are all low growers as well.

    Mac's Daughter,
    I am glad you stopped by. The cuphea is perfect for fall in its coloration. Camellias have always reminded me of winter roses.


  19. Wow...that evergreen hydrangea! That is new to me, and it looks really interesting. Everything in your garden looks interesting actually - Kim just left a comment at my blog, about how she wants a cold hardy white camellia...I'm guessing that she saw yours! It's beautiful. I have sasanqua and sinensis in bloom - but did notice today one japonica that is gonna explode at any moment - just as our first freeze is expected (tomorrow night). I need to think about Fatsia - I don't have a single one in my garden, which might be a bit foolish!

  20. Wow, you are lucky to have all the stuff blooming. The pictures came out great and I love all the plants.

    As of a couple of nights ago we lost just about everything. It has been hovering around 34 deg and real windy for the last few days. It is a barren wasteland out in the garden :lol:

  21. Hey Les,

    Great pics as usual, and it was great to hear from you. I've enjoyed growing the cuphea this year too, and just potted up a few rooted cuttings yesterday to carry over for "insurance". Love the Dichroa; I've read about them, but haven't seen them locally at all.

    My arbutus has been in place for about ten years, and I've found (remember that my yard is usually 5-10 degrees colder than yours or your nursery on a cold night) that the young fruit doesn't carry over as well without a little help. I cover it in Christmas lights and will throw some remay over it when it gets really cold.

    Wish I had access to Bennett's Creek nursery, but it's probably just as well that I don't. I hauled about 15 "homeless" camellias that I've collected and rooted into my unheated greenhouse yesterday.