December 2012 Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

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.

DSCN8663The first of my hybrid hellebores is just about to bloom: Helleborus x ‘Snow White’ (aka ‘Snow Bunting’).

I am two days late for the official Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  On the fifteenth of each month garden bloggers from all over the world post photos of what’s blooming in their gardens, and their posts are collected by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.  Nevertheless, I thought it would be fun to see which plants are pretty enough to get me outside in December on a somewhat warm but dreary, rainy day.  I also wanted to add a new twist by allowing myself only one pass through the garden for photos instead of the numerous trips required by a normal post.

Not surprisingly if you read my blog, Italian arum, hellebores, snowdrops, camellias, hardy cyclamen, and coral bells are hogging the show this time of year accompanied by a few others.  Let’s see what we have:

DSCN8642 Fall-blooming camellia ‘Winter’s Snowman’ has been blooming since October and still has buds waiting to open.

My late fall garden has been immensely improved by the addition of fall-blooming hardy camellias.  All five of mine are blooming now and have plenty of buds left.  For more information on fall-bloomimg camellias, click here.

DSCN8641‘Winter’s Joy’


DSCN8650‘Lu Shan Snow’


DSCN8656‘Winter’s Darling’


DSCN8655‘Elaine Lee’

Italian arum is always a highlight this time of year after its fresh foliage emerges from dormancy in early fall:

DSCN8645‘Pictum’ Italian arum


DSCN8659dwarf Italian arum ‘Tiny Tot’


DSCN8654‘Gold Rush’ Italian arum, my favorite

Hellebores are just about to take over as the stars of the garden for the next few months.  For more information on hellebores, click here and follow the links at the end of the post.  If it wouldn’t violate my parameter for this post, I would run out and photograph bearsfoot hellebore and ‘Praecox’ Christmas rose, which are both almost open.  As it is, I have these two hellebores for you:

DSCN8662Another shot of the first flower on ‘Snow White’.


DSCN8643After blooming in October, ‘Josef Lemper’ Christmas rose is at it again and will continue to bloom into spring.


My favorite coral bells or heucheras are the cultivars that give me 365 days of colorful foliage, some of which are pictured below.  If I could go back outside, I would add ‘Frosted Violet’ and ‘Bronze Wave’.  I would also include some photographs of pulmonarias, especially ‘Diana Clare’:

DSCN8646‘Caramel’ heuchera continues to change from one beautiful hue to the next through out the winter.


DSCN8652Green Spice’ is new to my garden this year and looks like a winner.


DSCN8653‘Citronelle’ is a customer favorite for brightening dark corners.

You know I couldn’t resist showing you a few snowdrops:

DSCN8640  ‘Potter’s Prelude’, a fall-bloomimg snowdrop cultivar, is getting to the end of its bloom period which began in mid-November.


DSCN8658A clump of early blooming giant snowdrops, Galanthus elwesii, hides in the Japanese holly ferns and hellebores.

Except during the heart of the summer when they are dormant, hardy cyclamen are stars in my garden.  I find their highly variable leaf patterns endlessly fascinating.  For more information on hardy cyclamen, click here.

DSCN8660The last few blooms on fall-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. hederifolium, which began blooming at the end of August.


DSCN8661Spring-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. coum, doesn’t need flowers to attract attention.

Here are some more late fall stars that might surprise you:

DSCN8639‘Brigadoon’ St. John’s wort always takes on this lovely peach color for the winter.


DSCN8644This new mahonia called ‘Soft Caress’ was given to me by the breeders at the Southern Living Plant Collection to trial in my garden.  It is evergreen, blooms now, and is hardy to zone 7.  For more information, click here.  I have high hopes for it because I have since seen it in two other local gardens.


DSCN8648This sedum always turns a lovely burgundy in the fall.  Unfortunately, I don’t know its exact name.


DSCN8651Bigroot geranium, G. macrorrhizum, takes on red and pink tones for the winter.


DSCN8649‘Black Scallop’ ajuga has quickly become one of my favorite groundcovers because its dark purple leaves remain shiny and beautiful through the winter.

You may be wondering why I would limit myself to one trip outside for photos for this post.  Every article that you read here takes me at least a full day to compose, including the photography, the research, the writing, and the editing.  I wanted to see if I could cut that back to a few hours and still produce a quality product, and I believe I have been largely successful.  It would only work for a post like this though where no significant supporting research was required. 

Enjoy, Carolyn


Nursery Happenings:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA.  The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  The nursery is closed until spring 2013.  Thanks for a great year.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post.  You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.


43 Responses to “December 2012 Garden Bloggers Bloom Day”

  1. You do have a lot to show this month. The weather has been pretty warm here. My Mahonia is still blooming too. I am glad you saw it in two local gardens, that gives me some hope for it to live up here. I picked a very warm spot for it. I was surprised it blooms this late. Next year will be the real test.

  2. Lovely to see all the lovely blooms in your garden, Carolyn. Cyclamen are such tough plants, they brighten the September and October road verges here wherever there is any shade. Christina

  3. Hi Carolyn… another beautiful post as always! I haven’t checked my April blooming hellebores lately, but my friend 100 miles south of here says he has all sorts of flower buds showing up. Who knows… maybe I will be able to eventually grow camelias if these weather patterns continue! Our beautiful snow is all gone and we’ve had lots of rain for which I think I’m thankful… we were so dry for so long. Thank you for the Merry Christmas wish and I offer the same to you and your family… As always, Larry

  4. Love your camellias, but your other blooms are very impressive. The snowdrops are so sweet, and the hellebore is amazing for its long bloom period. And that red sedum is truly gorgeous!


    THanks to you I have Potter’s Prelude blooming. The new nigers: Josua, Jacob and Joseph are all blooming here in CT.

    • Leslie, It makes me so happy when customers comment about their Carolyn’s Shade Gardens snowdrops. ‘Potter’s Prelude’ should bulk up fairly quickly for you. I would love to hear what you have to say about the relative merits of the three Christmas roses. I have no experience with Josua. In my garden, Joseph is a bigger plant that blooms earlier than Jacob with larger flowers and leaves but has less flowers which don’t age to pink like Jacob. Carolyn

  6. I love your Hellebores. I transplanted some this fall, and I’m hoping that they will bloom in their new location, but it will still be a while before they bloom in TN!

  7. Carolyn:

    Having bought so many wonderful plants from you, I am also enjoying this winter wonderland. The camillas are insanely beautiful and my first hellebore (single white) has opened. I have had several snow drops bloom since Sept ( I still can’t yet tell them apart). I think cyclamens are one of my top five plants. Thanks for exposing me to all these wonderful plants. And, Happy Holidays to all!!

    • Cynthia, So nice to hear from you. Was your single white hellebore ‘Snow White’? You would have gotten it from me this spring. There are only two possibilities for the fall-blooming snowdrops you bought from me. Galanthus reginae-olgae blooms first in October and has skinny grey-green leaves. ‘Potter’s Prelude’ starts in November and had wide blue-gray leaves. Happy Holidays, Carolyn

  8. You have the most beautiful blooms in your garden for early winter. Lovely to see and your post turned out quite well with spending less time.

  9. I think your red sedum might be Dragon’s Blood. I have grown the Soft Caress mahonia for a few years now. All but one have survived our coldest winter and hottest driest summer in Texas in Zone 7/8 (with watering twice a week in summer). I will have to grow it a few more years I think to really see its full potential. I am hoping it does not get tall and leggy, but if it does I will probably cut a stem or two off at the ground (like I would a Nandina) to encourage lower, fuller growth. P.S. I am glad to know that I am not the only one who takes a whole day to do a blog post!

    • Toni, I am very particular so composing a post takes an insane amount of time. I think you might be right about the sedum. The images look similar, thanks. Great to have a report on the mahonia. The tag says 3′ by 3′ but mine is tiny right now. Carolyn

  10. Yep, I know what you mean about the time requirement. But I would never know that you cut back, Carolyn. It’s a quality post, as always. I checked back on several of your posts. I’m a huge fan of Camellias, but just a bit too far north to plant them here. But I enjoy seeing them when I travel in the south.

  11. Carolyn, Your garden is amazing for December! It will be months before my hellebores appear, but worth waiting for. We were in your neck of the woods this weekend — visited Longwood Gardens. Joyous display. Happy Holidays! P. x

  12. I admire your ‘Winter’s Snowman’ very much. This is an informative and interesting post as always. I’m checking my Hellebores daily but no sign of flowers yet, though last year this time they were blooming. Yours are lovely. Susie

  13. nwphillygardner Says:

    Just wanted to compliment that vivid photo of Cyclamen coum leaves. That red ochre quartz rock provides a very appealing color contrast to the forest green & silver patterned foliage. I’ll bet it would also be an interesting companion with the Hypericum Brigadoon’s winter foliage….more of a color companion than a contrast.

  14. nwphillygardner Says:

    Also, do you have Strawberry Geranium, Saxifraga stolonifera, in your shade garden? I’ve been very impressed with the December appearance of the foliage. I planted a small division this spring which is now quite a handsome “colony” in shady bed with great winter presence (at least so far)

  15. Your camellias are just beautiful. I like the ‘Winter’s Snowman’ in particular. I admire the Italian arum every time you show them and must think about them for next year. I planted some snowdrops and I can hardly wait to see them bloom. Happy Holidays to you Carolyn!

  16. One pass through your garden yielded all that! You have done a fabulous job creating an all seasons garden. I don’t know why I haven’t added Italian arum to my own garden. It has been on my wish list for the woodland area for a while. Hopefully, I will have it in my garden in 2013. I also enjoyed your post on edgeworthia. I added one just last year, and already my baby plant is growing and has a number of buds swelling. I hope mine will someday be as lovely as the ones you pictured!

  17. Lovely blooms, all the more beautiful since you are able to enjoy them during these grey days of late autumn. Thank you for sharing.

  18. aberdeen gardening Says:

    Worked great for me Carolyn, I wouldn’t like to tell you how long I spend chopping and changing my posts. Snowdrops already, how fabulous is that. You seem to have a rather kind climate with Winters not as harsh as some other areas in the US. I would like to thank you for the support which you have given me over the last couple of years. Wishing you and your family a very happy Christmas and continued success at your nursery in 2013.

    • Alistair, My snowdrops are special kinds that bloom in the fall. My “regular” snowdrops won’t bloom until the end of February. Winters have gotten milder here but with tons of snow the two winters before last. Summers are brutal though with 21 days in the 90s F and 10 over 95 last July. 90 degrees F is 32.2 degrees C. Thank you for your good wishes and Merry Christmas to you and your family. Carolyn

  19. It seems that everyone else is scratching around trying to find something to photograph for GBBD, while your garden is preparing for prime-time. Especially glad that you captured the half-hidden clump of snowdrops during your quick trip outdoors.

  20. This will be the year I finally plant fall snowdrops and Christmas rose….I just ran out of time…if you still carry both I will be placing an order 🙂

  21. wifemothergardener Says:

    Your garden is still looking wonderful, Carolyn! So many things in bloom. I am hoping to find a few H. niger for next year.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  22. I didn’t get a GBBD post done, oh well. You really have a lot of nice blooms! I need to look into finding some Cyclamen coum, lovely leaves. Also like the Arum leaves, what great patterns.
    The deer (I think) ate my Soft Caress mahonia. Hoping it will spring up from the remaining roots.

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