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, 2009

Bloom Day - The Well Watered Garden

On the news yesterday, I heard that the Hampton Roads area is having the 6th rainiest year since records have been kept, and that we are nearly 18" above average. As we are less than half an inch away from the number 5 spot, we will likely end up there according to the meteorologists. A new fixture for many of the homes in my neighborhood is a garden hose, pvc pipe or some other tube trailing from the basement window or out of the crawl space. These are all draining into the street excess water from under the house, and you need to mind when you walk by them as sump pumps kick on without notice, giving you wet shoes. There are also several spots around the neighborhood where water is spontaneously bubbling out of the ground. Of course for gardeners this rain is a blessing and a curse: not a thing needs watering and the reservoirs will be full for next summer's needs, but if you step into the garden you will sink up to your ankle in soggy, unworkable soil.

On my own piece of wet earth the garden still has blooms and our basement is dry and holding. Although we have gotten as low as 28, and most of the annuals are gone, there are still some hardier blooms persisting, including the godsend for southern gardeners - the Camellias.

Camellia sasanqua 'Kanjiro'

Camellia sasanqua 'Kanjiro'

Camellia sasanqua 'Showa-No-Sake'

Camellia sasanqua 'Show-No-Sake'

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' 1

The Camellia japonica 'Les Marbury' is blooming very early this year.

Camellia jaonica 'Les Marbury'

Here it is again with the dark blue fruit of Evergreen Hydrangea (Dichroa febrifuga).

Camellia japonica 'Les Marbury' and Dichroa febrifuga

Another plant blooming early is my unknown Quince (Chaenomeles sp.). Though I am not sure - it could be 'Ore-hime', which I was told would be a long bloomer. We will see.


I still have several Roses blooming, which have all been shown recently, except for this 'Red Cascade'. I moved it this summer so it would get more sun, and it has responded well.

Rosa 'Res Cascade'

The Mahonia x 'Winter Sun' was seen two posts back, but it is so colorful it will be shown again.

Mahonia x 'Winter Sun' 1.1

Mahonia x 'Winter Sun' 1

Not all annuals have been killed by the cold, and I planted Pansies this year after taking last year off. Back then I was not sure if my crazed neighbor had reformed, and I was not willing to take the risk. She seems to be in a much better place now, so this year I put in a few. These pictured are 'Delta Tapestry'.

Viola × wittrockiana 'Delta Tapestry' 2

Finally a gratuitous pet picture in the garden. Miss Patsy's advanced age keeps her from going on adventures like she once did, so she has missed out on photo ops the other two dogs enjoyed. Patsy celebrated her 15th birthday last week with lunch meat and extra lovies.

Patsy 2

A special thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Please visit her if you are interested in seeing what's blooming in other blogger's gardens.

Happy Holidays Everyone!


  1. Oh give Patsi extra lovies from me too, Les! What a sweetheart she is and such longevity! She must be getting the very best of treatment, I would wager. Your camellias are so rich, the mahonia so bright, a wonderful December pick me up! Yuletide might have to come live here, if I can remember next spring. Is that the best planting time? :-)

  2. Beautiful Camellias. I'm always fond of pansies and so glad you included Patsi. I hope that awful woman leaves everyone's plants alone from now on.

    I mentioned to my husband about all the beautiful camellia bushes at a certain nursery in town. Wonder if he'll take the hint?

    Happy Bloom Day.

  3. Beautiful camellias. I wonder if they have any at our local conservatory... the only place we're likely to see any. While the others are charming, for me Yuletide is a particular winner. Hope your crazy lady stays away. Plantnappers are a strange breed.

  4. niiice blog, and nice photos!

  5. Nice selection of camellias! I've never seen the evergreen hydrangea before.

  6. Les, the camellias are all beautiful, but the simplicity of Camellia sasanqua 'Kanjiro' is a show stopper.

    Happy belated birthday Patsy!

  7. Les, Give Miss Patsi a pat from all of us! She's a grand Old girl. The camellias are gorgeous and boy do they look wonderful photographed by you! I hope the cold front in doesn't reach you or take out the buds on my White By The gate camellia. gail

  8. Love the Camellia's, like winter jewels. Happy birthday to the doggy too.

  9. Small or large, you just can't beat camellias -- especially in the winter garden. Lovely!

  10. I have 2 Sasanqua 'Kanjiro' Camellia Shrubs and I *love* Camellias! Previously I lived in Chicago, and you can't grow Camellias up there.

  11. We're getting lots of water here too, but it sounds like you're getting more. Gosh, getting your shoes surprised-soaked would sure suck. There's nothing worse than wet shoes and wet socks. Nonetheless, I still manage to end up in that miserable condition at least once a year.

    I'm seeing a lot of camellias on Bloom Day posts. They seem at least a month early to me here too.

    But I'm not complaining. It looks like spring in your garden.

  12. Southern beauties; we miss flowers up here in the North.

  13. Your camellias are lovely! It's such a treat to have real flowers in December in Virginia.

    I played around your blog a bit, and it's a very enjoyable place to waste time. I'll definitely be a regular visitor.


  14. Such lovely camellias Les. Gosh to see these now... what a treat! Your photography is stunning... to see all the stages from tight... to swollen buds, then fully open flowers... well done in the perspective department too. I hope you continue to have a dry basement! Happy Birthday to your sweet doggie... Many Happy Healthy Returns. Carol

  15. Frances,
    Fortunately right now Patsy needs no treatment. The last time she did it set us back considerable. There are many prices to sharing your life with a dog.

    With Christmas coming you need to drop more hints with your husband. Speaking as one, we appreciate detailed wish lists at this time of year, including where the items can be found.

    My plant napper seemed to have retired and we have not had any problems in the past year and a half.

    Thanks for stopping by and for the compliment.

    The Dichroa is a Hydrangea cousin, and I am fairly sure that it would not be hardy in Billtown. The flowers while not ugly, don't stand out, but I like the fruit.

    Patsy thanks you for the birthday wishes.

    The Camellias are not behaving as they normally do, many have bloomed earlier than normal.

    Thanks for stopping by. I can't imagine gardening without the Camellias.

    Thanks for stopping by and please come visit again.

    I hope to be adding to my Camellia collection soon, I just don't know what I will choose.

    Kanjiro is one of my favorite sasanquas, mainly because of its vigor, but also for its bright long lasting color.

    Chuck B.,
    It may look like spring on the blog, but not in the garden. Macro photography creates some beautiful illusions.

    Get thee to a greenhouse if ye need color.

    I did not know your company was in Virginia, and I poked around your site as well. Thanks for stopping by.


  16. Carol,
    Thanks for all your comments. Sometimes my results are intentional, and other times they are happy surprises.


  17. Happy Birthday to Miss Patsy.

    I don't know if our monsoon is a record. I think it is supposed to be wet here. I'll be headed down to the land of camellias next week. Surprisingly one I planted against my better judgement for Client #1 has done very well and bloomed like crazy for a good six weeks mostly in November.

  18. Happy birthday, Patsy: 15--that's fantastic!

    Sounds like y'all have had lots more rain than we've had here the past two years. Mixed blessings, I suppose, right? Your evergreen hydrangea makes me swoon!! Enjoying your photos.

  19. You have some great photos here - I'm about to also say that I have never come across an evergreen hydrangea never mind with blue berries! The camelias look so unblemished - won't be until April before mine are thinking of blooming. Love the photo of Patsi too.

  20. Les, it is really amazing all that you have packed in your garden! Beautiful. P.S. Remember 2 y ears ago? A little bit of this rain then would have been nice. H.

  21. Hello Les,

    We have the opposite problem that you do. We need more rain here in the Arizona desert ;0)

    Your flowers are beautiful. I especially love the camellia flowers. We can grow them here, but have to add lots of acidic material to our alkaline soils for them to do well.

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments on my blog. They are much appreciated.

  22. Thanks for the beautiful pictures of flowers and green. You help keep a MI gardner hopeful when we are knee deep- well more like thigh deep after the last blizzard- in snow. It was 12 degrees when I woke up this morning.

  23. That Mahonia looks beautiful. That really looks like a good old dog.

  24. Christopher,
    Have a safe trip to the land of Camellias. I hope you miss(ed) all the stormy weather coming up the coast.

    Don't swoon too much. While the Dichroa is a hydrangea family member and is evergreen, the flowers are not that showy and the leaves are more persistant than evergreen.

    Not that I am gloating, but our Camellia season begins in Oct. and finishes in April. There is usually a break in January and early February.

    I remember that year all too well - surrounded by forest and swamp fires praying for rain.

    You are welcome for the comments. If I could send you some rain, I'd do that as well.

    You are welcome to visit my blog anytime you want, as long as you keep that kind of weather where you are and not here.

    Not only does Patsy look like a good old dog, she is.


  25. Happy 15th to Patsy! Please tell her that the Pointer Sisters wish her well (and are a bit bummed that they didn't get extra treats too).

    Boy, talk about rain - today felt like a tropical system moving through - they're saying we got between 5 and 7 inches of rain! We were already wet and the ground was saturated - so my garden/yard turned into one large puddle.

    Love the camellias - I meant to get out and get images of mine, but it just hasn't happened yet. Yours are beautiful! I'm also fascinated with the blue berries of the evergreen camellia - that was something I wasn't familiar with (which is always a treat).

  26. 18 above?! Wow. I remember when we were 10" above normal here in NC and then Fran hit and we got another 10".

    Your Camellias are gorgeous. I didn't know that evergreen Hydrangea had such blue berries. Is your Mahonia fragrant?

    Patsi looks great! Very sweet too.

  27. Thank heaven Camellias love that rain. Delicious images, but the one of 'Yuletide' is especially moody and wonderful!. Happy Birthday to Patsy from me & Buddy!

  28. Truly is swamp season. We are certainly over the 18 inches now! High waters yesterday as well as the snow. Love your camellia photos.
    Miss Patsy is a sweety. Our Monroe is turning 16 in February, she still rules the roost.

  29. Pam,
    Patsy says thank you. She would like to meet the Pointer Sisters, but only briefly so she could resume her nap. You could easily grow the Dichroa, but do so for the berries and the novelty. The flowers are not that showy. I am getting a new variety at the store in spring that is supposed to have showier blossoms - we will see.

    Sweet Bay,
    I remember Fran, but I recall Floyd being more devastating to NC. The images of all the bloated livestock floating in the holding pens will never leave my mind. On a more pleasant note, I am glad we are all out of the drought situations we were experiencing the past few summers.

    Tell Buddy that Patsy says thanks. I love the Yuletide, it is my favorite sasanqua.

    16 is a ripe old age for a dog, it tells me she has been treated well. I have not seen any current totals after this weekend's rain, but I am sure we are now at #5.


  30. I just can never get over that these fragile-looking camellias are blooming now! So amazing to this northern gardener, currently watching snow falling. (Hey, my word verification is 'prude,' hmmm ....)

  31. Linda,
    I am not sure what your word verification means to my blog. Camellias may look delicate, but here they are fairly tough and are often used for hedging and screening for shady areas.