Winter Color 2012

'Pink Icicle' camellia buds

‘Pink Icicle’ camellia buds

'Warren's Red' Possumhaw deciduous holy, has never had more than 4 berries until this year.

‘Warren’s Red’ I. decidua,  another native deciduous holly, has never had more than 4 berries until this year.

Possumhaw with leaves.

‘Warren’s Red’ Possumhaw with leaves.

Winterberry, Ilex verticilata, is our newest deciduous holly.

Winterberry, Ilex verticillata, is our newest deciduous holly.

Our mature femaile yaupon, a native evergreen, has its heaviest berry crop ever.

Our mature female yaupon, Ilex vomitoria, a native evergreen holly, has its heaviest berry crop ever.

Camellia flowers in December

Camellia flowers in December

Hollies, both evergreen and deciduous, add their color to the garden. My ‘Pink Icicle’ Camellia began blooming in November and is still budding and blooming. We’ve also added Burford hollies and female yews on the new berm for their future berries.  Enjoy!

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What is blooming now. . . portraits of reliable fall blooming plants.

Golden Raintree, Koelreuteria bipinnata, has seed pods that are as pretty as flowers.

Obedient plant blooms bountifully.
Ivy-leaved cyclamen, C. hederifolium, is only 4 inches tall but its bright color makes it a stand-out.
Japanese anemone ‘Andrea Atkinson’ forms a large colony about 5 feet wide.
Very reliable sedum flowers change from pink to deep russet.
Narrow-leaf Sunflower is a bright exclamation point in the fall garden.
This aster is very fragrant and climbs up to 8 feet.

‘October Skies’ native aster

This toad lily, Miyazaki, shows some atypical coloration

Cooler weather helps plants and gardeners.

With temps in the 90s and a little rain, my garden seems to be breathing a sigh of relief. Many plants are blooming again. Most of my roses are in full bloom which I didn’t expect until fall. My brown turkey fig, on the patio, is bearing fruit too. They have an opening on the end which ants love to take advantage of, so I put a little plug of vaseline there and problem solved.

Brown turkey figs are my favorite because they remind of the bush that grew in my Grandmother Brockett’s yard.
Outhouse Hibiscus
Grown for its fragrance and soft velvety leaves.
Also in the patio area is a bodacious Hibiscus grandiflora or Swamp Hibiscus. It has huge velvety green leaves and pink fragrant flowers. It was often grown beside the outhouse, for obvious reasons. It was also called The Outhouse Rose.
A beautiful hibiscus from my friend, Russell Studebaker. It is very tall with 5-6″ blooms. The dark pink hibsicus is H. mutabilis ‘Rubrum’.
A favorite hibiscus for hummingbirds, Turk’s Cap Mallow, a native wildflower,  Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

What an honor. . .!

The coral orienpet (oriental x trumpet) is 4 feet tall, with flowers 10 inches across.

Thanks. I was so surprised to hear from Brenda of http://theblondegardener.wordpress.com, who nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award. The award increases readership of garden blogs and awareness.

I’m always thrilled to hear from readers who have been following my blog. I’ve heard from people in Malaysia, India, Japan and all over the US and Canada.

The requirements for accepting the nomination are to nominate 10 of my favorite blogs and notify the owners and to list 7 random facts about myself.

I like snakes and other creepy crawlies. I’ve sung in choirs since I was six years old. I speak fluent Spanish and understand Italian and French pretty well in context.  Photography has been a hobby of mine since the 70s.  I used to have my own darkroom. I am a plantaholic (is there a 12-step group for that?) Thanks to my husband, Jerry, for making this nomination possible because he is my best help in the garden.

I nominate the following garden blogs:

My Return to the Garden

Nigella has rather alien-looking flowers.

Foxglove flowers circle the stem facing outward.

After my fall when planting a ‘Little Gem’ magnolia, I had another more worrisome result: a fibro flare. I have fibromyalgia, a muscle-pain syndrome. The fall pushed it into overdrive, so I’ve been at home and in bed a lot since February. I’m making my post-fall debut with a study of nature’s intricacy in flower and leaf shape and arrangement.

Leaves of Penstemon murrayanus are perfoliate, meaning the stem comes up through the leaves.

Phlomis flowers are arranged around the stem.

Creature Feature

Here are some of the creatures attracted to the host  plants that I include in my garden as an invitation for the butterflies and moths. The first is the hagmoth caterpillar in an unusual color. The moth it metamorphoses into is small and not often seen. The caterpillar is usually brown with long hair, said to imitate a cast off tarantula skin.

Small Hagmoth caterpillar

The Spicebush Butterfly is a beautiful black swallowtail. The host plants are spice bush and sassafras. My spicebush is only 7 inches tall, but it had 3 caterpillars on it. I moved them to a small sassafras tree so they could continue developing. This morning, when I checked, there were two more small caterpillars besides this one which is mature and should change into a chrysalis soon.

The spicebush caterpillar is one of the most endearing with its green color and cute eye-spots.

The last caterpillar is a new one on me. It is called the Milkweed Tussock caterpillar and I found it on my Swamp milkweed. They  have so many hairs of different colors that they look like little bits of yarn moving around. At first, they are all clustered together where the eggs were laid and as they mature, they move off. The moth they metamorphose into is a medium-size tan moth with a large yellow abdomen with black spots on it.

These milkweed tussock caterpillars look like bits of yarn moving around the swamp milkweed.

This is the best time to observe caterpillars, so get out in your garden and start looking. Better yet, take a child with you. They love creepy crawlies as much as I do.