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.

January 15, 2013

Bloom Day - Decembuary

Though I am a charter member of the I Hate Winter Club, we could use a good dose of cold weather.  I still have hydrangeas and lantanas that have yet to defoliate, crinums with new growth, lush full acanthus, bulbs popping up, and my japonica camellias are a month ahead of schedule.  Let's not even talk about all the bugs, fleas especially, that are going to sail through this winter to feast another day.  In looking back at last year's January GBBD, I am making a very similar complaint and showing some of the same blooms, so sorry if I might be repeating myself.

Let's start Bloom Day with something that I was not expecting, good foliage color from a plant that has never given me any before.  This is Stachyurus praecox 'Mitsuzaki' and usually it turns an ugly yellow-brown in late November or early December before falling.  The brown tassles are the flower buds, which normally open in April, though the way things are going it could show up for February's GBBD.
Stachyurus praecox 'Mitsuzaki' 

Another plant that has failed to lose all of its foliage and is also giving me nice color is Spiraea thunberii 'Ogon'.  Its flowers are only a few weeks early.
Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon' 

Blooming right below the Spiraea are some pansies.  I thought this mix might be Viola x 'Persian Medley', but something tells my memory is flawed.  Whatever the name, they just glow.
Viola x 'Persian Medley' (2)

Viola x 'Persian Medley' 

Chaenomeles x 'Hime' is on schedule, but this variety is usually showing flowers by early December and lasts sometimes until May. It is remarkable for that long bloom period.
Chaenomeles x 'Hime' (2)

Chaenomeles x 'Hime' 

Helleborus foetidus is also on schedule. Last year it opted not to bloom at all, so I was glad to see these.
Helleborus foetidus 

Helleborus orientalis are budding up all around the garden, but this is the first one to fully open.
Helleborus orientalis 

The lack of any real cold weather has kept me in the garden, which is a good thing. My garden will be part of a tour this  coming spring, so I have been cutting back, mulching, pruning, and saying good bye to plants whose time has come.  My constant companion during all this work has been the über-sweet fragrance of paperwhite narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus). 
Narcissus papyraceus 

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' is still full of blooms.
Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' 

The japonica camellias are all heavily budded and have started blooming this week, though I would wish to see them later.  I just worry that their buds are all going to swell and open, only to be nipped by the cold.  This is Camellia japonica 'Les Marbury'.
Camellia japonica 'Les Marbury' 

I'll end with what might be my favorite white flower, Camellia japonica 'Nuccio's Gem'.  It nears perfection.
Camellia japonica 'Nuccio's Gem' (2) 

Camellia japonica 'Nuccio's Gem' 

Camellia japonica 'Nuccio's Gem' (3) 

You can see if other gardeners from around the globe are having unusual weather by paying Carol of May Dreams Gardens a visit.  She is the hostess of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the 15th of each month.


  1. Looking great, Les. No deep cold yet, that's for sure. But 2 years ago when we had that terrible winter (2010) I thought everything would be late (and some things actually were) I'd like a little more cold too myself to clean things up. I'd like to see your yard.

  2. Wow! Your C.japonicas are way ahead of ours which seem right on schedule to start blooming in mid February as usual. A recent freeze has knocked most of the foliage off of my stachyurus praecox which I'm happy for as I think the blooms look interesting on bare wood. My buds seem a little further along than yours though but here, it always blooms for me in late January/early February. Don't have any Hellebores close to blooming yet. Interesting how the same plants respond so differently in slightly different climates. Your 'Nuccio's Gem' is incredibly beautiful as are all your blooms this month!

  3. My wish list grows every time you post your bloom day photos.

  4. Hello Les! I'm from Emporia but now live in Greenville, SC. It's great to find you through May Dreams Gardens. I'm a new blogger, so still figuring this out. Love the camellias. I have several in bloom, but they predate me in the garden and I don't know their names. Very frustrating! Happy Bloom Day!


  5. Love that combo with the Chaenomeles x 'Hime' backed by the variegated Holly. A quick google search indicates the Chaenomeles is hardy to zone 5. I wonder what sort of bloom time I would get in 6b?

    Happy GBBD!

  6. Hi Les, We had some cold weather and snow just after Christmas Day, but now we seem to be experiencing fairly mild temperatures. Winter just doesn't seem to be what it used to be even here in Canada. You have a lovely assortment of Bloom Day flowers in your post. It is great that the mild weather has given you the opportunity to get an early start on your preparations for next summer's garden tour.

  7. C. japonicas are opening like crazy here. They always save back some tight buds for later, though.

    Love the pansies and everything else.

  8. My Helleborus foetidus wouldn't even drop one little flower out for Bloomday, guess it wants to wait for February's edition.

    Lots of lovely blooms Les...the camellias are especially beautiful!

  9. I think you are absolutely correct Camellia japonica 'Nuccio's Gem'is pure perfection. Love that you saved the best for last. gail

  10. Glorious array of colour Les, and I am astounded at the long flowering season of your Chaenomeles. Happy GBBD, though lets hope that a cold snap appears to kill of the fleas, even if it does adversely affect all that lovely leaf colour too.

  11. Oh to live where hellebores bloom in January. Mine are scrufty but still mostly green now that the thaw has disappeared the snow. But I've got weeks to months before I'll see blooms.

  12. I'd love to send some our cold weather here in the SF Bay Area. We've had more than a week of it and want to go work in the garden. Love your pictures, you are giving me spring fever.

  13. That white camelia is outstanding. I hope you get enough cold to chill your bulbs sufficiently, and no more!

  14. Wow, daffodils in bloom already. Fortunately my Nuccio's Gem is staying tightly wrapped. We're getting a wintry mix tonight so the plants would be better off staying dormant. I'm always amazed at your diversity of plantings.

  15. Les, How can you hate a season you don't even have? Really nice photographs. We are getting snow here as I write and some colder wether is on its way.

  16. (sobbing silently)

    It'll be two months before even the snowdrops will be showing their lil' heads.

    I wanna move to where you are !


  17. My quince is just now starting to bud. Not sure of the variety, sold as 'quince'. 'Nuccio's Gem' just glows!
    So are you taking part in the Camellia cuttings propagation at NBG? Or are employees not to participate? Boy, you could have such a selection!!!

  18. Hey Les, it's fun to actually see blooms in your garden. Of course, I've got a couple of violas, but not much. We finally had cold which nipped everything including me. I also grow Spiraea thunberii 'Ogon' and love it for the color and blooms. It stays a nice yellow/green here all summer unless we have weeks of 114F.~~Dee

  19. John,
    My garden will be part of the spring NBG tour in May, but if you want a preview, just let me know.

    Interesting indeed. My Stachyurus does not bloom until April, my camellias are temperature driven as opposed to calendar driven, and the hellebores are on schedule.

    Glad to be of service.

    Marian S.,
    Welcome to the world of garden blogging. I hope you are following the Queen of Seaford's blog. She is down your way and also recently from Virginia.

    The Chaenomeles should do very well for you, and I would say just before the Forsythia blooms.

    It kind of bothers me that Canada is not having a normal winter also.

    I have several Camellias that are tightly budded, and these are the ones that always bloom late anyway. I like how I can stretch their blooms out by using the right varieties.

    On the years that my H. foetidus does bloom, they usually start in late December.

    Nuccio's Gem is one of my favorite plants, even with the white flowers.

    That Chaeonmeles never has the all at once, in your face blooms of others, but doles them out flower by flower from Nov/Dec until May.

    Don't wish your blooms too early.

    Mary Kay,
    I have heard that you Californians are having unusual temperatures. Endure them with a glass of wine.

    I don't normally worry about the bulbs. Those that need a proper chilling don't do terrible well here to begin with.

    We had our first wintry mix just last night. The television induced hype did not match what little happened.

    Point taken!

    Maybe we can work out a house swap for vacations.

    I have room for no more camellias, unless of course I take something else out, and there are possibilities.

    I think Spiraea 'Ogon' is a fantastic plant, and the nice thing is, that it does so well in so many climates.