December GBBD: Add to Your Spring Shopping List

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

native oakleaf hydrangea ‘Snow Queen’

It is time to walk around your garden again and assess what you need to add to make the end of fall an exciting time in your landscape.  Do you need more late fall-blooming evergreen shrubs like camellias to give you a reason to go outside?  Could your garden benefit from flowers that bloom in December like hellebores or snowdrops to relieve the gray?  Make a list and take photographs so that when you are shopping next spring you know what you need and where it should go.  I know it’s cold outside, but you never know what you might find to raise your chilly spirits like nature’s own dried arrangements (pictured above and first below), which I discovered during my own monthly inventory.

Longwood Gardens conservatory decorated for Christmas

If you need ideas, visit local arboretums and gardens.  I always find a trip to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, highly inspirational and informative.  This time of year you can see the fabulous holiday display, A Longwood Christmas, with half a million lights and 39 miles of cords lighting 75′ trees plus a 4.5 acre indoor conservatory themed for the holidays.  I know I am prejudiced, but I think it is the best in the world.

Today is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for December when gardeners around the world show photos of what’s blooming in their gardens (follow the link to see  photographs from other garden bloggers assembled by Carol at May Dreams Gardens).  Here are a few more highlights from my mid-December stroll through Carolyn’s Shade Gardens:

Japanese silver grass with ‘Magic Carpet’ spiraea

fall-blooming Christmas rose ‘Jacob’

native honeysuckle ‘Crimson Cascade’

fall-blooming snowdrop ‘Potter’s Prelude’

black fountain grass ‘Moudry’

purple offshoot of ‘Shell Pink’ lamium

leatherleaf viburnum

fall-blooming species Camellia oleifera

bearsfoot hellebore coming into bloom

fall-blooming hybrid Camellia x  ‘Winter’s Darling’

Japanese silver grass ‘Morning Light’

giant snowdrop (G. elwesii) blooming early

native purple coneflower soldiering on

fall-blooming Ackerman hybrid camellia

re-blooming tall bearded iris ‘Immortality’

My re-blooming iris ‘Immortality’ re-bloomed in early fall and then decided to do it again in late November.  I could bring the flowers stalks inside and force them.  But the fat buds hold such a promise of spring and they make me feel so hopeful every time I walk by them that I can’t bring myself to cut them.  May you find many  treasures on your mid-December ramble.


Note: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  It went down to 15 degrees last night so the camellias are brownish, but they still have buds coming.  I covered the iris, and all the other plants mentioned are fine!

32 Responses to “December GBBD: Add to Your Spring Shopping List”

  1. Carolyn, you still have lots going on in the garden! I like your idea about going around and assessing what you might want to add for autumn/winter interest. It’s so easy to get overtaken with what is blooming at the moment in the spring and neglecting the late bloomers. Have a great day!

  2. So much happening in your garden! The leatherleaf viburnum may be my favorite, but those Hellebores are pretty nice, too.

    • Hi Linda, When I went out to walk around, I discovered that the whole leatherleaf viburnum is in bloom. I don’t know if this is normal or the result of the really warm temperatures in the second half of November. Hellebores are the backbone of my winter garden—glad you enjoyed them. Carolyn

  3. Your December highlights are lovely, no snow? That is all we have here in the Falls. Pretty snow, but snow.

  4. You still have lots of treasures in your garden. I love Bloomday because it makes us search out the hidden beauties in our gardens. I understand exactly what you mean about the bud of HOPE for spring.

  5. You have such lovely blooms to share on this December GBBD. I adore your Galanthus … that’s something I never see here. I also loved your gorgeous grasses … they look terrific.

  6. That’s a lovely selection for GBBD. I have never seen a snowdrop in flower so early – I never even realised that there were autumnal ones either.

  7. Ellen Swirsky Says:

    What beautiful pictures and great ideas to see on such a cold New England morning!

  8. It is wonderful to see a garden with so many pretty flowers when mine is resting under a blanket of snow.

  9. Your picture of the Longwood Conservatory looks like a beautiful place to visit. Where else would you find a beautiful Christmas tree surrounded by tropical plants and palm trees? Have you had any snow yet in your part of the country? I woke to a foot in my area in Utah.

    • Hi Ramona, Longwood Garden, though a long trip from Utah, is an amazing place to visit especially at Christmas. Maybe I will do a post just on that, but I would need more photos. We have not had snow and really need it to protect the plants from the freezing temperatures. Carolyn

  10. Still have great beauty in your winter garden especially the snowdrops and camellias.

  11. Dear Carolyn, I enjoyed taking a December walk around your garden today. It is too cold to walk around mine. You still have some lovely color. Happy Bloom Day. Pamela x

  12. your garden looks great!
    Love the little snowdrops and the winter rose

  13. You have a pretty December garden! You have some wonderful plant choices. I love the snowdrop… well, actually I love them all! This is my first visit to your blog and I’m glad I did.

  14. I am drooling over all of your lovely blooms Carolyn! Beautiful!! Impressive for this time of year. Thank you so for sharing the Longwood Gardens site too!

  15. I like the idea of taking photos so that one can step back and take a look at ones garden at different seasons all at one time in the warmth of your home to really assess what is missing at certain times of the year. Your snowdrops and hellebore are lovely! Thanks for sharing your walk through your garden during these freezing temperatures!

    • I started my blog primarily for my customers so my posts are geared to provide helpful advice to them through the seasons. Now I have a whole audience of garden bloggers from all over the world, which is fun. I hope both audiences find my posts useful. Carolyn

  16. Carolyn, your December garden still has plenty of interest and pretty blooms. The late Iris bloom is amazing!
    I haven’t tried growing Camelias. Perhaps one day. They bring back fond memories of my mother’s lovely Australian garden.
    I’m wondering if my Hellebore is ‘Jacob’. It certainly fits the characteristics. It was an unnamed passalong from a friend.
    Thanks for visiting and saying hello 🙂

    • Hi Kerri, Most of what I had for the December bloom day is frozen now as we continue to have unseasonably cold weather. Camellias really are easy to grow as long as you site them carefully. I looked at your hellebore when I visited. The leaves and flowers do not look like ‘Jacob’, but it could be another early Christmas rose called ‘Praecox’—the flowers look like my ‘Praecox’. Carolyn

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