Entries in Camellia 'Red Candles' (4)


Plants for Winter Blooms

Why in the world do we gardeners put in plants that bloom in winter? Why the obsession to find a spot of color against a gloomy landscape? I was asking these questions today when a bit of sunshine, after several overhung days, pulled me outside. The temperature was barely above freezing, a bitter breeze blew in my face, and the soil was soggy from recent rains. Nevertheless, there I was, bundled up, searching for those hardy blooms that braved the vacillations of an Alabama winter. Camellia japonica 'Red Candles' is a prolific winter bloomer, despite frosty air.

The fact is, many of us gardeners are greedy people. We want it all. We want a year-round paradise, if not in reality, at least in our dreams. Even northern gardeners who are snowed-in through much of the winter challenge the frozen land outside their windows. They hover around grow lights in the basement or bathroom, nurturing seedlings for a warmer season. They fill sunrooms, kitchens, and other living areas with green plants and pots of flowering tropicals, whose vibrant leaves and colorful blooms are remarkably beautiful against a backdrop of snow. 

As for me, today I needed to be outside, checking on things.Flowering quince, Chaenomeles, is a shrub whose flowers may persist for two or more months.Hellebores are up and producing flowers.This is another plant whose blooms may continue for several months.My garden in January is no paradise, but rather a panorama of bare stems and branches against a backdrop of evergreens. But I found occasional buds and blooms, and I was happy my garden included a few plants that dared to blossom in winter. Daffodils are just pushing up and beginning to form buds, and tea olives are filled with tiny white buds that will soon fill the arbor garden with fragrance.

Variegated Winter Daphne is also filled with buds that will soon open to fragrant blooms.

Distylium 'Vintage Jade' has many tiny red buds. When they open, they are reminiscent of witch hazel.

This Edgeworthia chrysantha bud is just beginning to open.

Another view of Edgeworthia buds. Yes, they feel furry!

Camellia 'Something Beautiful' lives up to its name.

Many of the Camellia 'Something Beautiful' blooms have fallen to the ground because of wind and rain, forming bouquets of blossoms on the earth. Fortunately, many more remain on the shrub.

I felt a hint of things stirring beneath the surface as I examined the blooms in my winter garden, and I am reassured that spring will come.


Winter Web and Signs of Spring 

When I look outside, I see an untidy, winter web of branches. It can be striking when afternoon sunlight glows amidst the tangled limbs, but mostly it is a reminder that Alabama is derived from an old Choctaw Indian word meaning, "I clear the thicket."

All these bare stems have me longing for spring, and it won't be long! This weekend, between rain showers, I went sloshing through the garden in search of signs of spring, and I was not disappointed. Here's an assortment of images that lifted my spirits:

The flowering quince shrubs are finally budding out! Chaenomeles usually begin flowering as early as January, so they are late this year, making me even happier to see the bright red-orange buds.

Camellia japonica is also starting to flower. The larger photo below is 'Red Candles', a very reliable bloomer here, no matter how cold the weather, and the paler pink one is called 'Something Beautiful.'

Hellebores have begun to flower in earnest:

Daphne odora 'Variegata' is almost ready to open its fragrant buds:

Daffodils are also later coming up this year, but it won't be long before their cheerful faces are brightening the garden:

Velvety Edgeworthia buds will soon open:

Here is an assortment of more buds and emerging foliage:Clockwise from top left: Native azalea; Variegated hydrangea; Forsythia; Rosa rugosa 'Alba'.

I am excited to see all these opening buds; they promise that soon there will be a springtime riot of color in my garden.