Entries in plants for woodland garden (7)

Sunday
Feb032019

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. 

 

Sunday
Oct222017

'Red Dragon' Persicaria Creates Interest in the Garden

I loved Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon' the first time I saw it, but I wasn't sure if it would like me. My climate can be difficult. Happily, it has been growing in my garden for over two years now, and I am so pleased with it that I recently purchased another one. It was an end of the season bargain, overgrowing its pot and begging to be planted. I am fortunate that my mild climate allows me to plant in fall and winter, and I often take advantage of reduced prices this time of year. 

'Red Dragon' is commonly called fleeceflower. It is a gorgeous, mounding perennial with outstanding foliage, growing to about 2-3 feet tall and wide. This 'Red Dragon' persicaria has been growing successfully near my arbor garden for several years.It has 3 to 4 inch bluish-green, arrow-shaped leaves with silver and plum chevron markings, and it has striking maroon stems. If that is not enough to win your heart, it also produces airy sprays of tiny white flowers from midsummer through fall that attract butterflies and other pollinators.This 'Red Dragon' is newly purchased. It is a bit scrawny but should fill in nicely by next year.

This is an easy-care plant with few problems; it is deer and rabbit resistant and will tolerate urban pollution. It grows in full sun to partial shade in most any soil in USDA hardiness zones 5 - 9. It appreciates afternoon shade in warmer climates. It grows best in average to moist soil, and will grow well even in bog gardens. It will also do well in a container. I planted my new 'Red Dragon' in the woodland garden:My newly planted 'Red Dragon' is seen in the foreground in this photo of a side path in the woodland garden.

'Red Dragon' is an interesting plant, but not a lot of people are familiar with it. Visitors often stop to examine it and ask me what it is. It will go dormant when frosty air arrives, but I can eagerly look forward to seeing it return in the spring.