Entries in plants for woodland garden (8)


Summer Scenes in the Garden

Summer is here, and the deep greening of the garden has begun. A few perennials and annuals celebrate our heat and humidity and provide splashes of color, but these hot months are all about foliage in its myriad forms and variegations. 

First, some color: This tropical hibiscus is so beautiful that I plan to bring it inside later to overwinter. For now it sits on our patio, and I have a good view of it from our kitchen and dining room.

Here are a few more June blooms:The large top photo is from my new pollinator garden, with purple Veronica and perennial Helenium. Do you see the bee? Small photos left to right: Hummingbird plant, Dicliptera suberecta, is also known as Uruguayan firecracker plant; One of the very best yellow reblooming daylilies is Hemerocallis 'Going Bananas'; Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowflake' has double blooms, unlike the common oak leaf hydrangea, which has single blooms; 'Anthony Waterer' Spirea has May - June blooms but will produce more flowers if spent blooms are removed.

When the day is nearly done - but not quite - the sun sends shafts of light through the woodland garden. It is my favorite time of the day. Sparks flash under and over and through the foliage; and like a soul lifted out of darkness, the garden is transformed.

Here are closer views of some of the woodland plants:Clockwise from top left: Breynia disticha is called Snow on the Mountain bush and also Snowbush. It is not hardy in my area. It is in a pot, and I will bring it inside for winter; Hosta 'Rhino Hide'; Cercis canadensis 'Whitewater' is a weeping variegated redbud tree; Zantedeschia albomaculata, or White Spotted Leaf Calla Lily; Fatsia 'Spider's Web'; Bird's nest fern (Asplenium nidus) is another plant in my garden that is not hardy. It is in a pot so I can bring it in for winter.

Clockwise from top left: Peacock moss (Selaginella uncinata) and Athyrium filix-femina, commonly called lady fern, grow next to a mossy rock; A close-up of the Peacock moss; Native Trillium and Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora);Hostas are beginning to bloom - I don't remember the name of this one!

Finally, here is a Daddy Longlegs, stretched out, taking it easy on a hosta leaf. This non-venomous insect has 6 legs and is not a true spider:

Happy Gardening!


Camellia 'Red Candles' Exceeds My Expectations

The "snow event" that local weathermen forecasted last week did not materialize, but we did experience very cold rain and temps that fell well below freezing for several nights in a row. I imagined that any open camellia flowers would turn to brown mush, though tightly closed buds would survive. I went out to inspect after the weather warmed up and the sun came out. Yep, most blooms were brown mush. The exception was Camellia japonica 'Red Candles,' also sold as 'Crimson Candles.' It has been blooming for a month and the freezing temps did not faze it:

Since I planted it eight years ago, this shrub has never disappointed me. Its abundant, rose-pink blooms are a beacon in the winter woodland garden. 'Red Candles' has bronze-red new foliage, which turns a deep green. The shrub has matured to about 9 by 5 feet and makes an attractive statement year-round.

Whenever I put in a new plant, I am usually optimistic. I do my research and try to put the right plant in the right place. Nevertheless, some plants die dramatically or else limp along till I put them out of their misery. Others succeed for a while, then eventually decline. Many are understated, doing their job but nothing more. Some do well; yet pleased as I am, I eventually take them for granted. But a few, like 'Red Candles,' are outstanding, each year bringing me new joy and wonder. 

Planting and Caring for Camellias:

'Red Candles' will grow in USDA hardiness zones 7a-9b. A few camellias are hardy in zone 6. All grow best in well drained, acid soil under the canopy of deep rooted trees that allow sun to filter through. I dig wide holes for mine and add compost to the native soil before backfilling around the root balls. To encourage good drainage it is important to plant all camellias high, with their trunk bases above the soil line. I water well and then add mulch around the bases to protect the roots. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. To promote good health, keep spent blooms and fallen leaves cleaned from under the shrub. Camellias don't usually need a lot of fertilizer. Wait until blooming has finished in early spring to fertilize with an organic fertilizer for acid-loving plants.