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 14, 2008

Bloom Day Yuletide

Since last month's Bloom Day, we have had our first freeze. It was not severe only about 28, but it was enough to turn anything remotely tropical black or brown. Since we are so close to the Atlantic and the Chesapeake, this area is often insulated from the more extreme temperatures of the rest of the state. It always takes the water longer to cool down then the air, so fall temperatures linger here. The reverse situation causes us to have cooler springs while we wait for the water temperature to catch up with the air. This plus the fact that my neighborhood is on a peninsula keep my garden more temperate. In light of what other gardeners around the country are having to put up with - I consider my situation a blessing.

In spite of this relatively mild climate, I have had trouble with a Camellia I had high expectations for. I purchased Yuletide (Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide') almost ten years ago, and it has always been reluctant to set any buds, although it has grown well otherwise. So this summer I put a little triple phosphate around it hoping to get more blooms. Now it is covered with more buds than ever before, lots of tight, unopened, reluctant buds. I guess I need to tell it that next week is Christmas and it was named Yuletide not only for its color, but it is supposed to bloom in December. Out of hundreds of buds, I have only one open flower and only two buds showing any color.

My other Sasanquas are in a shadier location on the north side of the house and are not as shy as Yuletide. My Show-No-Sake (Camellia sasanqua 'Showa-No-Sake) was pictured last month.
Mine-No-Yuki (Camellia sasanqua 'Mine-No-Yuki') is also sold as 'White Doves' and is a low growing, sprawling variety.My most vigorous Sasanqua is Kanjiro (Camellia sasanqua 'Kanjiro'), and it is very upright and a reliable bloomer each year. Right now it is the star of the side garden.

My Quince is confused with one early bloom. I am also confused as I do not know which species this is. I was told that this cultivar was 'Ore Hime' when it was given to me, but I can only find a reference to a variety named 'Hime'. My free Knockout (Rosa 'Radrazz') is still blooming and producing buds, even in a pot on the exposed front steps. I got this compliments of Jackson and Perkins and like a lot of the trial roses I get, it ended up in a pot. I have to really like a rose to commit it to the garden. In the back yard Mahonia (Mahonia x 'Winter Sun') has started blooming.

Creeping Ornamental Raspberry (Rubus calycinoides) has been evergreen for me in mild winters. During the past two summers the dry conditions have kept it in bounds, otherwise it can be a thug. The white flowers are not that showy, but the fall and winter foliage is nice and it is thick enough to choke out weeds, but not so thick that spring bulbs can't come through it.

Tetrapanax papyriferus is also known as Rice Paper Plant and is indeed used in China to make a paper from the stem. I grow it for the tropical foliage effect it gives my garden, and this particular one is a larger leaf form. I am not sure it has a cultivar name, but Plant Delights sells one they call 'Steroidal Giant' which sounds awfully similar. I put a pint sized plant in the garden this spring, and it is now over 6' tall with individual leaves 2' across. The foliage has been damaged by the cold, but it brought out some interesting colors.

Loretta seemed to be enjoying the Tetrapanax as well.
Several news outlets this week were reporting "new" findings about dogs. It seems it is now recognized that dogs have the ability to know when they were being treated differently from other dogs and will act out, sulk or generally feel bad when this occurs. This is not news to multiple dog owners, so in the spirit of equal opportunity, here is a picture of Patsy. As of last Sunday, she is now 14 years old. She can be lovingly hard headed, and is now hard of hearing as well, though just as sweet as ever.
Now matter what or how you celebrate - Happy Holidays! Please stop by Carol at May Dreams Gardens to wish her Season's Greetings and to thank her for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.


  1. Hi Les, your camellia tips are just what I needed, triple super, which I cannot find at the stores anymore, will be applied to get more blooms from those shy sasanquas! Thanks. You have so many pretty things, I have buds on the quinces also. And the tetrapanax would make wonderful leaf castings, but might need wire reinforcement with that size. So glad you included sweet Patsy, she would indeed be hurt if as she was reading this post noticed only Loretta shown. No one wants to be invisible. :-)
    Frances at Fairegarden

  2. Camelia is a plant I really need to add to my garden next season. My neighbor has one and it looks lovely at this time of the year. Thanks for the tips today Les. :) Your Mahonia is getting ready to come into its' own soon! Beautiful GBBD post today.

  3. Hi Les, I just love the camelias. The shades of pink are my favorites. Then, of course, is your sweet dog. She's probably my favorite of all! Jan

  4. Good morning Les, I think Camillias are a big commitment in a garden like mine...difficult soil and growing conditions! So I shall admire yours from afar. Your puppies are precious!


  5. Your Camellia 'Yuletide' sounds like it has been taking advice from my Christmas Roses (Helleborus niger), which have never bloomed at Christmas.
    I love seeing photos of Camellias, as it's just too cold to grow them here in Chicagoland. Yours are beautiful. I like the photo of Patsy, too. She looks like a sweety.

  6. How lovely to see your camelias — even in bud — since they are nothing that is ever going to find a home in my garden. Actually, the buds were so beautiful I would almost be satisfied if that's all they did. And the mahonia was gorgeous — really fun to see things growing in their preferred locations.

  7. What lovely flowers to enjoy on this single digit degree day in Nebraska! I like the leaves and flowers of the camellias.

  8. Do cats know about the special treatment, too? I can't tell what they know, but one of them seems to expect and demand preferential treatment.

    Some day maybe I'll have a bigger garden with room for camellias. In the meantime, I get a borrowed view of one over the fence in the yard behind mine. It doesn't do anything for several weeks tho'.

  9. you have posted some great photos; thanks, its good to see another good looking garden.

  10. Frances,
    Thanks for coming by. I am suprised that you can not find triple phosphate, you may want to try a farmer's supply store if your garden center does not carry it. I have considered the tetrapanax for a leaf casting, it would be large enough to make a turkey platter. I agree with your last comment about being invisible, but sometimes it is a good thing.

    You definately should have a camellia, or two. If you would like some recommendations, I would be glad to suggest some.

    Thanks for stopping by. I am fond of the dogs too.

    I don't think they are that fussy, if you live in the right climate. Even in colder areas there are several camellias hardy into zone 6.

    Maybe your hellebores celebrate Eastern Orthodox Christmas, or even a different holiday all together. The only blooming issue I know of is they have to be older to do so.

    Miss Wis,
    The buds are beautiful on all Camellias, and they will hold tight during cold spells waiting for the right conditions to open. One of my favorite spring blooming varieties is 'Crimson Candles' so named for its tapered buds.

    I hope you enjoy living in Nebraska. The thought of single digits floor me. I noticed that a good part of the upper plains and Rocky Mt. states were getting below 0 yesterday. I think winter is too cold here, but I wouldn't try to convince my heat hating wife to move.

    We have two cats also, but only my wife and son belong to them. They really don't like me unless there is no one else around to feed them. If one did get preferential treatment, I am not sure they would even notice or remember.

    Thanks for your kind comments.


  11. Thanks for sharing the information on your climate. It sounds rather unique and seems to give you a lot of gardening options.

    Thanks for joining in for bloom day!
    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  12. Hey Les, Thanks for the visit. I left you a message there, but wanted to say hey here, as well. Helen

  13. That Patsy sure is a sweet looking old gal. Glad you posted her. All your blooms are great, even Yuletide. This seems to be a pretty popular cultivar, one I have seen a few place but not in my garden:( The mahonia is wonderful!

  14. I recently saw the Yuletide at Jan's ( GBBD blog and fell in love with it (at first sight!), but unfortunately my local nursery doesn't have it :(, but love seeing them all blooming at your gardens! Go go!

  15. Les, Happy Holidays and GBBD to you too! I noticed that dog article too and it reminded me of proving a triangle was a triangle in geometry. I wonder if our dogs get jealous of blogs? Your garden doesn't look at all damaged by the frost at all. Lucky you on your peninsula.

  16. I always enjoy your pictures, especially since I'm transplanted from Maryland (Silver Spring, not Eastern Shore) but I've got friends and family living near the Chesapeake and try to get to Ocean City every few years to relive my childhood.
    Your camellias are gorgeous, as are the mahonia buds and roses.
    I like the expression on Patsy's face - sweet but still capable of mischief. Happy Yule to you!

  17. I love the white sasanqua - when visiting my camellia friend recently, he had one that looked similar, I believe it was 'snow flurries'? It's on my wish list. I have a yuletide that is in full bloom right now - it's a fairly small one (maybe between 2 and 3' tall). That creeping ornamental raspberry is new to me - and it looks really nice. Is it okay in shade? I have some shady areas where I'm looking for interesting (and easy) groundcovers.

    Oh - and the rice paper plant. I planted a small one two years ago - and it hasn't taken off at all. We've been dry (or where until this fall) - it's in shade, and I was told they could be a bit invasive here - and to put them in shade if you want to manage them better. Thoughts?

  18. Carol,
    Thanks for all your efforts at hosting, I am sure all GBBD posters appreciate it.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    I like the Mahonias too. The flowers are great, but the birds will enjoy the fruits that follow. It is easy to grow, evergreen and is tolerant of dry shade.

    Thank you for travelling so far to see my bloom day post. I imagine that your local nursery has quite a few things I could never grow.

    My weather here has certainly been different than yours. Of the two, I'll take mine over your ice storm any day.

    Weeping Sore,
    Love your bold name. When you go to Ocean City do you get French fries with malt vinegar?

    Snow Flurry is an excellent Sasanqua. It is one of the more cold tolerant varieties that let people in places like Long Island grow Camellias. I know you don't need the extra cold tolerance, but it will do well none-the-less. My Raspberry is on the north side of the house and is shaded by Musa basjoo as well. So it should do well in shade, but I think the fall and winter color is better in sun, but the protected location keeps it more evergreen. I would give it a shot, its tough. Try looking for it at that garden center on Folly Rd.(starts with an "H" I think). Tetrapanax is a shade garden plant and if left unattended it will spread, but is easily controlled by a once a year pulling. I am not sure why yours is not so vigourous. Mine is in a dry shade location and is doing well.


  19. Les, thanks! The garden center on Folly Rd. is Hyams - I'll take a look there after the holidays. Regarding the Tetrapanax, I don't have a clue - it's still hanging in there, but just hasn't taken off. It's probably in soil that is on the acidic side - and somewhat close (~15') from a large live oak. And as for Snow Flurry - now the name makes sense in more ways than one - since it's one of the cold hardy ones!

  20. Hiya Les,

    Better late than never: mind you, all this post does is make me envious.
    I adore camellias and can only manage them indoors, which means the buds drop off with insane regularity.

    Such large trees and so early.

    I was given a 4 foot tree in full flower last year and it lived in the bath ( we have more than one I hasten to add) for as long as it was in flower. Didn't want to miss a minute.

  21. Hi, Les--Bleated greetings from AZ. I have a couple of those camellias that don't seem to check their calendars--maybe I'll try the triple phosphate. Your mahonia is gorgeous. I transplanted some from a friends' yard last year, and it really resented the transplant, but it's come back now so I'm hoping for blooms and berries next year. Best for the holidays to you and your family and Patsy and Loretta.

  22. Pam,
    There is a whole series of Sasanquas and other fall blooming hybrids that are extremely cold tolerant. And to make it easy they all have the words snow, ice or winter in the name. I hope you will never need that extra bit of cold tolerance.

    I am surprised that you can't grow Camellias. Perhaps I am under the misconception that England has a more moderate climate than many parts of the States. Or maybe I am guilty of assuming that you have a similar climate to Londaon and the southern part of the country where I know Camellias will grow. Either way, a bath would be a great place to enjoy a Camellia.

    If you are in AZ you are missing below 20 temps tonight. Lucky you! Happy Holidays to you as well and to your best bi-peds and quadrapeds.