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, 2009

Bloom Day - After The Beat Down

This was the Bloom Day post that almost wasn't. The three day Nor'easter finally ended Saturday, and I just got my electricity back last night after being out for two days. My neighborhood, the city and a good part of Hampton Roads were left a real mess after the storm. There are trees down, lots of waterfront property damage, debris in the streets, newly leaking roofs and many flooded basements, including my own. Thursday night was the peak of the storm, but Friday was not much better. The worst problem with this particular storm was the tidal flooding. The official high tide mark was 7.7', only 2 inches below that of Hurricane Isabel, but the official mark was not recorded here on the recently expanded banks of the Lafayette River. Talking with several of my neighbors, the consensus is that the tides were at least half a foot higher than Isabel.

With no electricity, we had to keep ourselves entertained the old-fashioned way with conversation, board games, reading by candlelight and going to bed early to the sounds of howling winds and the distant (and not so distant) wail of sirens. Even without the howling and wailing I could not have slept Thursday night - I had very real visions of the water rising into the brand new, never been fired furnace. However, a good friend helped me sleep easier on Friday by reminding me that our combined troubles are minor compared to what far too many less fortunate people endure when these events occur.

After we got the basement emptied, I was able to assess the garden, rake a few leaves and find a few things to proffer for Bloom Day.

Ajania pacifica (Green and Gold Chrysanthemum)

Ajania pacifica 1

Amsonia hubrichtii (Thread Leaf Blue Star)

Amsonia hubrichtii 1

Iris - Unknown Rebloomer

Iris - Unknown Rebloomer 1

Fatsia Japonica

Fatsia japonica 1

Arbutus unedo 'Compactus' (Compact Strawberry Shrub)

Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' 1

Arbutus Fruit

Arbutus Fruit

Rosa x 'Caramba'

Rosa x 'Caramba'

Camellia sasanqua 'Kanjiro'

Camellia sasanqua 'Kanjiro' 1

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' 1

Back Gate View

My temporary water feature

My New Water Feature

My new compost pile


I hope the rest of you have a less eventful Bloom Day. If you would like to see what other gardeners are posting, please visit Carol at May Dreams Garden.


  1. It's good to hear that you made it through the storm all right, for the most part. How all those flowers managed to hang on through the wind and rain is a mystery, but it must have lifted your spirits a bit to find those survivors - especially your gorgeous camellias.

  2. Well, I think that those are beautiful blooms indeed, especially coming as they do after such a heavy storm.

    I like your new water feature and compost pile. They look professionally designed and very natural.

  3. The silver lining is what's in bloom after one of these storms. Seems like you found it!

  4. Good for you Les, I haven't been out to assess with camera. Maybe later today.
    We did make a run to the dump yesterday.

  5. Your good attitude about your situation is inspiring... new water feature, new compost pile, but somehow there were still blooms in your garden. This is a special bloom day post!

  6. Yuletide is huge! What a wonderful specimen! I really like the arbutus and fatsia as well. Fatsia didn't work here but I'm not sure about the arbutus. Do the birds eat the fruits? I remember those hurricanes and losing electricity when I lived on the coast (Alabama and Maine) and I must say I don't miss them but they do have a way of creating shared bonds amongst a family and neighbors.

  7. So glad to here the waters have resided. Nice bloom day. My, you have manly working hands. H.

  8. Glad you are OK. Our house is surrounded by big old trees (including locusts and silver maples over the bedroom) so listening to howling storms is a bit nerve wracking. Always love your posts because you are showing things I've heard about but rarely seen!

  9. I'm sorry your basement was flooded -- how much will you have to clean up? I see your sense of humor is still intact. :)

    Your iris is making my mouth water and that's a gorgeous Strawberry Shrub. I'm not familiar with that one, it's lovely.

  10. People make a liqueur with those Arbutus fruit, but you have to pick them at just the right time.

  11. Sorry to hear that the storm wreaked so much havoc in your area Les. To answer your question on my blog, no frost here yet. Also I was luckier than you & Janet, my yard mainly is a mess from dead tree limbs, leaf debris and pecans. It's really soggy out there still. We didn't lose power which is a first for my neighborhood. Your garden is looking pretty good, glad you got some blooms for GBBD to show us. :)

  12. Nice photos. I've never seen the Ajania in bloom before. Have you found it to be deer resistant?

  13. Les, I'm sorry for all the damage caused by the weather. I'm glad the storm is over, and hope the clean up goes well. We get frequently get water in our basement when it rains, but it's never been enough to damage anything, as long as we have things in boxes on something to prevent them from getting wet.

    I'm glad you have some blooms for GBBD. I love the color of your unnamed reblooming iris.

  14. Glad to hear you got through without major damage. Your equilibrium in that situation is admirable.

  15. I'm so glad you're ok!

    We got a little beating in Wilmington, but nothing like you guys!

    My fatsias and camellias are in bloom, too!

  16. Nan,
    I was quite fortunate in many ways, especially being that there was no damage in the garden.

    Hopefully my new garden elements will only be part of a temporary installation.

    I was hoping to show some more Sasanquas this month, but quite a few were stripped of open blooms, but lots of buds remain.

    The city told us just to put our junk on the curb, no special calls or schedules to follow.

    It was special. Thanks for stopping by during your GBBD rounds.

    It took several years for Yuletide to hit its stride and now it shines. I am not sure the birds will eat Arbutus, it is edible, kind of like a not so good blueberry.

    Thank you for noticing, I have been working out.

    We only have two tall trees on the property that could take something out on their way down. The Willow Oak has recently had nearly all of its branches removed on one side for the power lines. I think that has made it unbalanced and will keep an eye on it.

    Sweet Bay,
    We spent two days cleaning up and will be taking steps to make sure it is not so bad next time.

    Chuck B.,
    Liquer, did you say liquer? I would try it.

    This was the first time in my adult life I was glad we did not have waterfront property, though we did get about a block closer.

    I can't help you on the deer question, since we don't have any, which is at least one blessing. My guess would be that since it has aromatic foliage it may not be their favorite.

    We have a lot of stuff in plastic boxes just in case of water, however, when the water got deep enough they floated and turned over allowing water to seep in. Thanks for stopping by.

    Thank you for the comment. My equilibrium was tested this past week.

    You certainly deserve to have one storm pass you by. Wilmington has had its share of storms and hurricanes.


  17. What stunning offers Les... gorgeous blooms who do not look worse for the storm from what I see. What an ordeal... but to have such beauties... all of them so lovely! Beautiful Photos! You have a good sense of humor left too. Love the water feature but hope it never returns. Carol ps i do not usually like orange and pink together either!

  18. Much less eventful here, Les, and I'm glad to hear your garden and house came through the flooding as well as they did. It must have been nervewracking though.

  19. Glad you came out of the tempest relatively unscathed. And, under any circumstances, your garden shots would be enviable... but considering what these guys have been through, they're simply astounding. Nature is resilient. Your post reminded me of an Elizabeth Coatsworth poem I learned early in grade school:

    The Storm

    In fury and terror
    The tempest broke,
    It tore up the pine
    And shattered the oak,
    Yet the hummingbird hovered
    Within the hour
    Sipping clear rain
    From a trumpet flower.

  20. Candlelight is nice...but flooded basement, poor thing. I must say you are a true master with the camera, really great stuff. I especially love the Iris with drops of water is it from the basement?

    Take Care/ Tyra

  21. Dear Les, I am glad to hear that both you and the garden are still around. I see you still have a good sense of humor as well, quite a necessity to get through life's challenges. I believe the mum and amsonia deserve medals of honor for surviving, and you too. :-)

  22. Oh, say it isn't so - another name change! I need to write down "Ajania." What ever the name, it's a striking plant. I don't think I've ever seen an Arbutus in person, much less a fruit from one. It's pretty, despite the complete soaking.
    Sorry about the flooded basement.

  23. Wow Les. It looks like the storm picked up more fury by the time it got to you. Flooding we don't have to worry about. I can only hope we are not in a landslide prone area since I don't even know if there is a map of such things available yet. Bummer about the basement. The plants and garden all look fine. Is salt water intrusion a problem in this kind of flooding or does the fresh water dominate the flooding just because it can't drain?

  24. Carol,
    I am hoping the water feature does not return as well. Now that the crisis is over, I need to put my fishpond plumbing back in order. I canablized it during the storm for the pump.

    Thank you so much for the poem. It is very appropriate.

    While there are plants in the basement, the iris was not. I overwinter things that will drop foliage and come back, but can't take freezing weather. They all got a good bottom up drink last week in the flood.

    Thanks for the recommendation for the medal. I was surprised to have any blooms left after 8" of rain and 50-60 mph winds.

    I always new that plant as Chrysanthemum pacificum, when they changed the name I don't think it was a unamimous decision. It is listed in several other ways as well as Ajania.

    I did not have salt water in the basement, it was all seepage from the saturated ground as well as a few leaks. However, because the tides really did not go out for three days, the 8" of rain had nowhere to go and the groundwater level stayed very high.


  25. Pam,
    I am sorry I forgot to thank you for stopping by.


  26. GEeeeeeez! What a whopper! I second (well I 26th!) everybody's admiration for your aplomb throughout a serious flood. Sorry about your basement (we have constant seepage and wetness that is trying enough but never a flood) but it's great to hear you still found some joy in the garden. I love seeing those Southern plants, especially the Camellia. Take care.

  27. Lynn,
    I love seeing those southern plants as well. The basement tally came to 1 new water heater, numerous ruined yard sale items, but thankfully only a near miss for the new furnace.