Archive for Camellia ‘Winter’s Snowman

Late Fall Interest at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens

Posted in Camellias, Fall, Fall Color, How to, landscape design, my garden, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Magnolia virginianaThe sunrise lights up the heavy frost outlining the semi-evergreen leaves of native sweetbay magnolia.

At Carolyn’s Shade Gardens in southeastern Pennsylvania, US, colorful fall foliage is mostly gone and deciduous trees and shrubs are no longer the focus of garden interest.  We must rely on other plants to take over where fall color left off and help us satisfy our goal of providing ornamental interest 365 days a year.  At this point, every plant still thriving assumes greater value in the garden, and we look to the understory to draw us outside for a stroll.  Here are some of my favorites for December:

Nursery News: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is closed until the spring.  For announcements of spring 2016 events starting with snowdrop sales, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to  Let us know if you are particularly interested in snowdrops or miniature hostas so we can put you on our special advance notice list.   For the 2015 snowdrop catalogue, click here.


Ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite'The berries of native winterberry hollies stand out in the landscape after their leaves have dropped.  In my garden, robins strip the berries fairly early in the season, but I have noticed that in most locations they persist well into the winter.


Cyclamen hederifoliumFall-blooming hardy cyclamen is done blooming, but the leaves are gorgeous all winter.  If you look closely, they all have a different pattern like a snowflake.  Although I plant them where I want them, they move and thrive in sites of their own choosing.  Here they were planted at the front of the bed and moved to the back directly at the base of a stone wall, one of their favorite sites.


Here ants moved the cyclamen seeds about 30 to 40 feet up hill all around the base of a gigantic London plane tree where they have filled in and thrived.  This is not an area of the garden that I visit often so you can imagine my surprise when I found this display.  An Italian arum made the trek too.


Sasa veitchiiKuma bamboo grass, Sasa veitchii, has plain green leaves during the season but acquires this elegant white edge for the winter.  I planted my sasa over 10 years ago, and this is the first time that it has spread to a decent patch.  Generally it is considered quite aggressive.


Arachniodes simplicior 'Variegata'Variegated East Indian holly fern, Arachnoides simplicior ‘Variegata’, is a beautiful evergreen fern.  Before you go looking for it though, I think it is borderline hardy here and it doesn’t thrive.


Galanthus 'Potter's Prelude' elwesiiFall-blooming snowdrops like ‘Potter’s Prelude’ pictured here are a highlight of the fall season starting around October 15 and continuing until early main season snowdrops take over in January.


Epimedium stellulatum "Long Leaf Form"This photo could show any number of my evergreen epimediums, but this is E. stellulatum “Long Leaf Form”.  They all have very interesting and attractive leaves which persist until spring when I cut them back.


Pennisetum 'Moudry'Black fountain grass, Pennisetum ‘Moudry’, remains my favorite grass.  After a few hard frosts, it turns a lovely tan.  It does move around quite a bit but has never gone anywhere that I didn’t want it in 20 years.  It is downright invasive for others though, so beware.


Arum italicum 'Gold Rush'Italian arum stays fresh and beautiful all winter—it goes dormant in the summer instead.  This cultivar is ‘Gold Rush’.


Arum itlaicum selected seedlingAnother Italian arum with much more white on the leaves—for comparison a typical arum leaf is on the left of the photo.  It is possible to get a variety of leaf forms from specialized nurseries.


Chionanthus retusus 'China Snow'Chinese fringe trees, Chionanthus retusus, produce lovely dark blue berries in the fall which persist after the leaves drop.  This plant is the superior form ‘China Snow’.


Edgeworthia chrysanthaEdgeworthia is beautiful all year round but especially during late fall and winter when the large silver buds start to swell.  The leaves turn bright yellow and drop, leaving the bare branches covered with delicate silver ornaments.


Camelia x 'Winter's Snowman'‘Winter’s Snowman’ camellia blooms in November and December with large, semi-double white flowers.


Camellia x 'Winter's Joy'-001‘Winter’s Joy’ camellia


Camellia x 'Winter's Joy'-003‘Winter’s Joy’ produces hundreds of buds.  When a hard frost turns the open flowers brown, new buds open and flowers cover the plant again as soon as it gets warmer.  Although this is usually the case, it didn’t happen during the last two winters when the buds froze early.


Camellia oleifera 'Lu Shan Snow'The tea camellia ‘Lu Shan Snow’, C. oleifera, is particularly cold tolerant and has thrived in my garden for almost 20 years.  Camellias planted from 2013 on have been very hard to establish in the garden due to our unseasonably cold temperatures during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 winters.  The camellias that I planted prior to 2013 have all thrived.



Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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.

What’s Ornamental in Late Fall?

Posted in Camellias, Fall, Fall Color, How to, landscape design, my garden, Shade Perennials, snowdrops with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Cornus kousa 'Wolf's Eye'Gorgeous fall color of Kousa dogwood ‘Wolf Eyes’

In my last post, ‘What’s Blooming in Mid-Fall?” (click here to read), I explained that fall has three seasons for me: the early season is September, mid is October, and late is November.  I promised a post on the late season, which I fully intended to do at the end of November.  Unfortunately, the weather in the mid-Atlantic US just proceeded from temperatures typical of mid November, highs in the low 50s and lows in the low 40s, directly to temperatures more appropriate to January. When I got up this morning it was 24 degrees, and tonight’s low is 19 (-7.2 C), followed by three more nights in the low 20s.  Almost everything is frozen so I might as well do November now.

Nursery News:  Our nursery, Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, is currently closed.  If you would like to receive emails notifying you of catalogues, events, and sales, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to  If you are specifically interested in snowdrops, please let us know.


Cornus kousa 'Wolf's Eye'‘Wolf Eyes’ has green and white variegated leaves during its main season and turns pink in the fall.  Generally I recommend our native dogwood for its superior shape, flowers, berries, and fall color and because it supports 117 species of moths and butterflies alone while Kousa dogwood supports no native insects of any kind (source Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallamy).  However, if you want to plant a Kousa, ‘Wolf Eyes’ is beautiful.

I hope readers won’t be disappointed because, with the exception of snowdrops, camellias, and a few others, the best ornamental plants in my November garden are prized for their leaves.  October is probably the best month for fall color in the mid-Atlantic, and the landscape blazes with red, orange, and yellow from the huge deciduous trees we are famous for.  However, woody plants that wait until November to turn color really stand out because native maples, hornbeam, sweetgum, etc. are done by then.  Here are a few that I treasure:

Carolyn's Shade Gardens in fallScarlet native dogwood on the left, orange witch hazel in the center, and brilliant red Japanese maple on the right.  This is the hill above the Carolyn’s Shade Gardens nursery sales area.


'Hartlage Wine' sweetshrubNative hybrid ‘Hartlage Wine’ sweetshrub turns a lovely butter yellow in late fall.


Enkianthus & Hosta 'Krossa Regal'All the blue hostas turn an attractive orange-yellow.  Here ‘Krossa Regal’ with the fiery orange leaves of enkianthus and a yellow Asian sweetshrub in the woodland.


Disanthus cercidifoliusDisanthus cercidifolius is probably my favorite plant for November color.  This photo shows the whole shrub, which is probably 10′ wide and 6′ tall, although it could easily be pruned to a smaller size.  Some websites call it redbud hazel, but I have never heard that common name used.


Disanthus cercidifoliusA close up of the leaves shows that disanthus displays many beautiful colors at once.  You can also see why it’s called cercidifolius, which means leaves like a redbud.


Disanthus cercidifoliusDisanthus also blooms in November with tiny scarlet flowers.


Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Sasaba'Another shrub that blooms in November is evergreen ‘Sasaba’ osmanthus.  Again the flowers are not highly ornamental but they are amazingly fragrant, sweetly scenting my whole back hillside.


Camellia x 'Long Island Pink'Fall-blooming camellias are the highlight for flowering shrubs in November, here ‘Long Island Pink’ which started October 15.


Camellia x 'Snow Flurry'‘Snow Flurry’ also continues to bloom.


Camellia x 'Winter's Joy'‘Winter’s Joy’ starts in November and often continues into January.  I just hope its buds don’t freeze this week.


Camellia x 'Winter's Snowman'‘Winter’s Snowman’ also starts in November.  I was going to show the whole plant, but all the open flowers froze last night.

Perennials also contribute to November interest:


Hypericum 'Brigadoon'‘Brigadoon’ St. John’s wort and ‘John Creech’ sedum were not fazed by last night’s low.


Aconitum species at ChanticleerThis late-blooming monkshood is always a highlight of my November garden, although it froze last night.  Shown here at Chanticleer.


Heuchera 'Berry Smoothie'All the coralbells derived from our native Heuchera villosa keep their beautiful color in fall and through the winter, here ‘Berry Smoothie’.


Malva 'Zebrina' ‘Zebrina’ hollyhock mallow gets a second wind in the fall and is covered with blooms in November.


Arum 'Gold Rush'Italian arum comes up in the fall and stays ornamental all winter, it’s amazing.


Pennisetum 'Moudry'Fall light slanting through my favorite ornamental grass ‘Moudry’ fountain grass.


Pennisetum 'Moudry'Beware, ‘Moudry’s black plumes are quite striking, however, it can be quite aggressive.  I didn’t actually plant any of these plants, but I love where they planted themselves.


Hart's tongue fern with epimediumHart’s tongue fern and evergreen epimediums are also beautiful right now and for most of the winter.


Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink'Hellebores stay green through the winter, and some of them have spectacular leaves, here ‘Penny’s Pink’.


Galanthus reginae-olgaeI couldn’t finish without showing some snowdrops!  Galanthus reginae-olgae finishes blooming in the middle of November.


Galanthus elwesii "two scapes'I have a lot of fall-blooming giant snowdrops, Galanthus elwesii.  Here is one that I have selected for its nice markings and because it produces two flower scapes per plant.  It still looks pristine after last night’s freeze.

Keep warm,



Nursery Happenings:   You can sign up to receive notifications of catalogues, sales, and events at the nursery by sending your full name and phone number to

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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.

Fall 2013 Snowdrops and Camellias

Posted in Camellias, evergreen, Fall, Shade Shrubs, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2013 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

I have decided to move the Nursery Happenings portion of my posts to the top so that my customers can have easy access to this information.  I hope it won’t be too bothersome to my non-local readers, but Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is first and foremost a plant nursery—the blog posts are just icing on the cake!

Nursery Happenings: The 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants like cyclamen and hellebores, is on the sidebar, and we are taking orders.  To access the catalogue, please click here.  Please visit my Etsy Shop to purchase photo note cards suitable for all occasions by clicking here.

Camellia x 'Long Island Pink'‘Long Island Pink’ fall-blooming hardy camellia

As my garden begins to quiet down in the second half of fall, two of my favorite plants come into their full glory.  One is fall-blooming hardy camellias, and the other is fall-blooming snowdrops.  Both are quite rare, at least in the U.S., but both are quite easy to grow and look wonderful together.  And the key to my appreciation of them is that late fall, November and December, is their main season.  When other plants are succumbing to frost, camellias and snowdrops begin their show with a fresh and pristine look.


Galanthus elwesii Hiemalis GroupThis fall-blooming form of the giant snowdrop selected at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens began flowering on November 1 this year and will be offered in the 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue.  Technically it is called Galanthus elwesii var. monstictus Hiemalis Group CSG-01, what a mouthful.


Galanthus elwesii Novemnber bloomingAnother shot of my fall-blooming snowdrops showing how they are nestled in among evergreen hellebores and Japanese holly ferns to highlight the pure white flowers.

I readily admit that I am a snowdrop addict—a galanthophile.  And I can even understand how some gardeners fail to get excited about these little white flowers in the spring.  However, in November and December when even the hardy cylcamen are done, snowdrops are so bright and cheerful that the winter doldrums disappear the minute I see them.  You can even have flowers beginning in mid-October by planting the earliest blooming species Galanthus reginae-olgae.  For more on fall-blooming snowdrops, click here.


Galanthus elwesii green-tippedAnother fall-blooming giant snowdrop selected here at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens for it’s early November bloom time and green-tipped outer segments.  It received high praise recently when I posted photos on the Scottish Rock Garden Club Galanthus Forum, even the UK galanthophiles with access to hundreds of cultivars were impressed.  Hopefully it will multiply quickly and someday I can offer it for sale.

I am working on the 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue right now and will have it posted on the website before January 1.  There are a lot of exciting cultivars available for 2014, but unfortunately they are in very short supply so if you are interested, order early.  I have written quite a few blog posts and articles about snowdrops.  You can find them all compiled in the post New Feature Article on Snowdrops by clicking here.


Camellia Winter's Snowman‘Winter’s Snowman’ fall-blooming camellia has gorgeous, shiny, dark evergreen leaves.


Camellia Winter's Snowman‘Winter’s Snowman’ produces two types of flowers on the same plant: the anemone-form flowers on the right and the more open semi-double flowers on the left.

Like the snowdrops above, fall-blooming camellias are outstanding in November and December when their large and colorful flowers are shown off to perfection by their shiny evergreen leaves.  However, they bring even more to the garden because unlike the ephemeral snowdrops, camellias are shrubs that provide the beauty of their evergreen leaves and lovely habit year round.


Camellia sasanqua Nokoriko‘Nokoriko’ is new to my garden this year, and I love its unusual flower color.  Although it is said to be hardy in zone 6, it is a selection from the species Camellia sasanqua, which is not always hardy in our area.  Only time will tell.


I have written a lot about fall-blooming camellias and featured photos of dozens of plants that are hardy in zones 6 and 7.  All my articles are compiled in the blog post New York Times Photos where I provided a link to my camellia photos that appeared in that newspaper.   To see those photos and read more about camellias, click here. If you are looking for information about or photos of a particular hardy camellia cultivar, type the name into the Search My Website area on the sidebar of my home page (if the sidebar is not on the right, click here).


Camellia Arctic SnowThis photo of  ‘Arctic Snow’ gives an idea of how many buds each camellia can produce.


Camellia Arctic Snow‘Arctic Snow’ flower

The one drawback to fall-blooming camellias is that if we have unseasonably cold weather, below 25 degrees F (-3.8 C) or so, any open flowers can be frozen and ruined.  This happened this year during the last week of November when the temperature dropped to an official 21 degrees F (-6 C) but was actually 18 degrees in my garden and as low as 12 degrees elsewhere.  However, the unopened buds on my plants didn’t freeze, and the flowers continued to open.  We are now experiencing another bout of colder than normal weather, and I am not sure the buds will make it through unscathed this time.


Camellia Long Island Pink ‘Long Island Pink’


Camellia x 'Long Island Pink'A close up of ‘Long Island Pink’ and its beautiful leaves.


Usually I visit other gardens to show you camellias.  However, this year I am highlighting the cultivars that I grow myself.  Enjoy the photos and keep warm during the extra chilly weather we are experiencing.


Camellia olifera Lu Shan SnowThe oldest camellia in my garden is ‘Lu Shan Snow’, a Camellia oleifera cultivar and the hardy camellia used by Dr. Ackerman at the US National Arboretum to develop many modern hardy camellia cultivars.


Camellia olifera Lu Shan Snow‘Lu Shan Snow’


Camellia Winter's Joy‘Winter’s Joy’ is one of my favorites because it produces so many buds and flowers.


Camellia Winter's Joy‘Winter’s Joy’


Camellia Winter's Star White‘Winter’s Star White’


Camellia x 'Winter's Darling'‘Winter’s Darling’


Camellia x 'Elaine Lee'‘Elaine Lee’



Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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.

Woody Plants for Shade Part 6

Posted in Camellias, evergreen, Shade Gardening, Shade Shrubs, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

‘Early Amethyst’ beautyberry, Callicarpa dichotoma, is available in the current offer but was profiled in a previous woody plant post so I am not describing it here.  However, it is a favorite for fall interest and I wanted to include a photo.  For a full write up of this plant,  go to Woody Plants for Shade Part 3.

My nursery, Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, specializes in perennials for shade with an emphasis on hellebores, unusual bulbs especially snowdrops, hostas particularly miniature hostas, native plants, and ferns.  However, a satisfying shade garden does not consist of just perennials but includes trees, shrubs, and vines.

‘Winter’s Joy’ fall-blooming hardy camellia is another repeat, see this post for details.  I planted one myself last fall, and I would like to add to my previous write up that this camellia has more buds and flowers than any other camellia in my garden.  In 2011, it produced the beautiful flowers pictured above through out the entire winter.  Right now my plant is poised to do it again with hundreds of buds waiting to open.

Despite the need, woody plants for shade are difficult to find in local nurseries.  To fill this gap for my customers, three times a year, I offer woody plants for pre-order.  The plants chosen for the offer are the result of hours of painstaking selection in the shade houses of wholesale nurseries to find the healthiest, most desirable woodies available.

‘Winter’s Snowman’ fall-blooming hardy camellia is another favorite offered previously, see this post for details.  I have written three articles about fall-blooming hardy camellias in general.  If you are interested in finding out more about them, start here Fall-blooming Hardy Camellias Part 3, and you will find links to the first two installments.

 It is now time for my fall 2012 woody offer.  If you are a customer, you should already have gotten an email with all the details.  Blog readers can look at the catalogue on line by clicking here.  My nursery is on site retail sales only.  The only plants I ship are snowdrops in February and miniature hostas later in the season.  However, I hope out-of-town readers will get some good ideas for woody shade plants to look for at their local independent nursery.

The previous three photos are of another repeat: paper bush, Edgeworthia chrysantha, for details click here.  My plants have thrived through the last two hot and dry summers with pristine tropical looking leaves, gorgeous fall-forming buds, and highly fragrant late winter-blooming flowers.  This is truly a shrub with 365 days of interest.

So much for the preliminaries and repeat offerings, let’s get to the new plants.  There are six: three from my favorite group of shrubs, hydrangeas, and three evergreens for winter interest (the camellias are evergreen too).  Here are the details.

Native oakleaf hydrangea, H. quercifolia

The fall color of oakleaf hydrangea.

Our native oakleaf hydrangea, H. quercifolia, is the best all round shrub for shade—everyone should have at least one!  Huge, long-lasting, upright pyramids of white flowers bloom from May through July. It has bold-textured leaves with heart-stopping burgundy-red fall color, and cinnamon-colored exfoliating bark—a true four season plant. 

The white flowers of ‘Amethyst’ oakleaf hydrangea age to a striking red that does not fade when dried.  Great for flower arranging.

I am offering ‘Amethyst’ native oakleaf hydrangea, a new cultivar selected because  its initially white flowers turn to a striking red color and stay that way.  It grows to 5 to 6’ tall and 5 to 6’ wide in sun to full shade.  It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9, walnut and drought tolerant, and native to the southeastern US.


‘Blue Bird’ sawtooth hydrangea, H. serrata

‘Blue Bird’ sawtooth hydrangea produces lovely blue lacecap flowers starting in June for an extended period.  Acid soil results in the best blue tint.  I also grow it for its beautiful clean bright green leaves through out the season, which are enhanced by red highlights in the fall.  It is very tolerant of cold temperatures avoiding bud and twig dieback in harder winters.  ‘Blue Bird’ reaches 4′ tall and 4′ wide in part to dappled shade and grows in zones 5 to 9.  Sawtooth hydrangea is native to Korea and Japan.

This photo shows ‘Endless Summer’ bigleaf hydrangea, H. macrophylla, right now.  Yes, it is loaded with fresh flowers and buds and has been blooming since late spring.

‘Endless Summer’ bigleaf hydrangea sports very large pink or blue mophead flowers from late spring through summer and well into fall—it’s in full bloom right now as you can see from the photo above.  It represents a recent breakthrough in hydrangeas because it blooms on old and new wood giving it an extended bloom season.  This also means that if the buds formed on old wood the previous season are frozen over the winter, buds will form on new wood as the season progresses.  ‘Endless Summer’s’ large, medium green leaves provide a pleasing backdrop for the flowers.  It grows in zones 4 to 9 and reaches 4′ tall and 4′ wide in part shade.  It is recommended for full sun only with supplemental watering.  Bigleaf hydrangea is native to Japan.

‘Gold Dust’ Japanese aucuba, A. japonica, is an elegant specimen for deep shade.

A close up of the unusual leaves of ‘Gold Dust’ Japanese aucuba—glorious in winter.

‘Gold Dust’ Japanese aucuba’s very shiny, broadleaf evergreen leaves sprinkled with yellow spots make it one of the most vibrant and colorful plants to thrive in dense shade.  I have grown it successfully for many years in several areas of my garden that receive no direct sunlight.  It is very vigorous, disease free, and easy to grow as long as you don’t plant it in the sun.  ‘Gold Dust’ grows to 6 to 8′ tall and 4 to 6′ wide in part to dense full shade and is hardy in zones 7 to 9.  Aucuba is native to Japan, and the variegated form was introduced to the west in 1783.

The fall flowers of ‘Rose Creek’ glossy abelia, A. x grandiflora.

‘Rose Creek’ is a compact form of glossy abelia, great for smaller spaces and smaller gardens.

‘Rose Creek’ is a dense and compact glossy abelia that covers itself in a multitude of wonderfully fragrant, showy white flowers continuously from May through September.   When the flower petals drop off, the rosy pink sepals (bud enclosures) remain and are very eye-catching.  The beautiful, glossy evergreen foliage has pink highlights and turns purple in the fall, providing excellent winter interest.  The stems are  crimson red.  ‘Rose Creek’ grows to 2 to 3′ tall and 3 to 4′ wide in part shade or full sun and is hardy in zones 5 to 9.  It is deer resistant and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.  Glossy abelia is a cross between two Chinese abelia species.

The incredibly shiny leaves of Prague viburnum, V. x pragense, sparkle in the winter.

This photo of the flower of Prague viburnum was kindly lent to me by Monrovia, for their full plant profile, click here.

Prague viburnum’s pink buds open into large, bouquet-like, creamy white flowers in May followed by glossy, persistent black fruit.  Just as ornamental are its very showy, lustrous, dark evergreen leaves.  Prague viburnum reaches 8′ tall and 6′ wide in full sun to part shade and is hardy in zones 5 to 8.  You can grow it in full shade and the leaves will be gorgeous, but it won’t flower very well.  It is fast growing and deer resistant.  It is a cross between leatherleaf and service viburnums, which are both from China.

I hope you have a space in your garden for at least one of these wonderful shrubs for shade.  For more ideas, check out Woody Plants for Shade Parts 1 to 5 using the links provided below:

Part 1,   Part 2,   Part 3,   Part 4,   Part 5


Nursery Happenings:  Shrub orders are due by noon on Wednesday, October 3.  For the catalogue, click here.  We are offering two sessions of a seminar on low maintenance gardening for fall on Wednesday, October 3, and Friday, October 5, from 10 to 11:30 am.  For the details, click here.  Look for a special offer of double hellebores next week.

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.


Fall-blooming Camellias Part 3

Posted in Camellias, evergreen, Fall Color, Shade Shrubs with tags , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Unnamed camellia developed by William Ackerman who has hybridized many wonderful fall-blooming camellias for the U.S. National Arboretum.  For an article about his camellia introductions, click here.

Last December I wrote two popular articles about fall-blooming camellias.  Fall-blooming Camellias Part 1 explains that these camellias are fully hardy and easy to grow in the mid-Atlantic U.S. and shows photos of my plants.  It also has links to more information.  Part 2 covered my visit to the gardens of camellia expert Charles Cresson in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, whose camellia collection includes over 60 specimens.  This week I visited Charles’s gardens again, about a month earlier than last time, to view and photograph more camellias (I am an addict now).  In this article, I want to share that visit with you.  On Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, I will show photos of my own plants in bloom.

Camellia x ‘Snow Flurry’ is one of the earliest flowering fall-bloomers of the Ackerman hybrids with an arching habit and anemone to peony form flowers.

During my time in Charles’s garden, I revisited some of my favorite camellias pictured in my post last December, including ‘Snow Flurry’ above and the cranberry-flowered camellia and ‘Winter’s Snowman’ pictured below.

Cranberry-flowered camellia (not introduced for sale): fall-blooming camellias are loaded with buds right now and will continue to bloom over the next two months, depending on the weather.  Even if the open flowers are frozen during a cold spell, the remaining buds will open when the weather warms.

A close up of the cranberry-flowered camellia pictured above (not introduced)

The large, semi-double flowers of the Ackerman hybrid Camellia x ‘Winter’s Snowman’ really stand out in November and December.  ‘Winter’s Snowman’ has an upright, narrow habit.

Camellia x ‘Winter’s Snowman’:  If you look at my post from last December, you will see that ‘Winter’s Snowman’ can have both the semi-double flower pictured there and the anemone form flower above.  Both  are gorgeous.

Because I visited earlier in the season this year, I was able to photograph seven additional camellias:

Camellia x ‘Winter’s Star’ is an October and November blooming Ackerman hybrid with single flowers and an upright form.

This is a lovely semi-double white camellia hybridized by Charles but not introduced for sale or named.

Camellia x ‘Winter’s Interlude’ is a November and December blooming Ackerman hybrid with anemone form flowers and an upright spreading habit.

This camellia, which Charles grew from cuttings given to him by North Carolina State University, is very beautiful, but has not been introduced for sale.

A close up of the lovely pale pink flower on the North Carolina State camellia pictured above.

Camellia x ‘Moon Festival’ has unusually large flowers with a crepe paper texture, but is hardy only to zone 7.

Charles and I both love this unnamed Ackerman hybrid pictured above and at the top of the post.  We were thinking of potential names like “Winter’s Halo” or “Inner Glow”.  Do you think it should be introduced?

Camellia x ‘Carolina Moonmist’ was developed by the J.C. Raulston Arboretum of NCSU with single pink flowers.

Camellia x ‘Carolina Moonmist’: Charles feels that this camellia is too late-blooming for our area because many of the buds won’t open before it is too cold.  ‘Winter’s Star’ is a much better alternative.

I tried to remain focused on camellias for the whole visit, but the garden is so beautiful that some other plants snuck in, and I have to share them:

Fall-blooming hardy cyclamen seedling, C. hederifolium, growing at the base of a massive tree trunk.

Chinese holly, Ilex cornuta

Japanese maple, Acer palmatum ‘Ornatum’

The fall color of star magnolia, M. stellata.

The fall color of bald cypress, Taxodium distichum.

We are so lucky in this part of the world to have such massive trees with gorgeous fall color.

Enjoy,  Carolyn

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.

Nursery Happenings: The nursery is closed for the year.  Look for the snowdrop catalogue (snowdrops are available mail order) in January 2012 and an exciting new hellebore offering in February 2012.  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.

Woody Plants for Shade Part 3

Posted in evergreen, landscape design, native plants, New Plants, Shade Shrubs, shade vines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

‘Winter’s Joy’ Fall-blooming Hardy Camellia

My nursery specializes in herbaceous flowering plants for shade.   However, although no shade garden is complete without trees, shrubs, and vines, our local nurseries seem to ignore woody plants for shade.  To fill this gap, I offer my customers shade-loving woodies from a wholesale grower whose quality meets my exacting standards.  As in Woody Plants for Shade Part One and Woody Plants for Shade Part Two, I thought my blog readers who are not customers might be interested in learning about the woody plants that I would recommend they add to their shade gardens.  And doing an article in addition to the customer offering allows me to add more information so customers might be interested also.

This summer was tough on plants.  I lost several shrubs that I planted this spring.  That is why fall is the best time to plant.  The soil temperature is elevated for good root development through December, but new plants don’t have to contend with scorching temperatures, severe drought, or an excess of rain.  The plants that I add in the fall are always the most successful in my garden.

Included in my offering are three evergreen shrubs, five deciduous shrubs, and one vine.  Of the nine plants I have chosen, three are native.  Please read my article My Thanksgiving Oak Forest to see why I think planting native plants is crucial to our environment.  My article New Native Shade Perennials for 2011 explains why I think native cultivars are valuable native plants.  With that introduction, here are the plants I am offering highlighted in green:

The fall-blooming camellia ‘Winter’s Snowman’ shines in the winter sun.

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I love camellias, especially fall-blooming varieties.  There is nothing like going outside on a cold November or December day and being greeted by large showy flowers backed by gorgeous evergreen leaves.  Camellias really light up the shadiest parts of my garden during the time of year when flowers are most appreciated.  For more information on and some beautiful photographs of fall-blooming hardy camellias, see my articles Fall-blooming Camellias Part 1 and Fall-blooming Camellias Part 2.

‘Winter’s Snowman’ blooming in December

In a very shady place on the terrace outside my front door, I have a ‘Winter’s Snowman’ fall-blooming hardy camellia.  At maturity, it will reach six feet.  Its semi-double white flowers glow when displayed against the glossy evergreen leaves in November and December.  It is a vigorous plant with a narrow upright habit.  Although it is fully hardy in our area, I have sheltered it from winter sun and our winter winds, which come from the northwest.

‘Winter’s Joy’ fall-blooming camellia

In a similarly sheltered and shady location outside my back door along the path to my compost “pit”, I have planted another fall-blooming camellia.   ‘Winter’s Joy’ fall-blooming hardy camellia has semi-double, fuchsia-pink flowers elegantly displayed against glossy evergreen leaves in November and December.  It is a vigorous plant with a narrow upright habit, reaching six feet at maturity.  Right now both these fall-blooming camellias are covered with buds.  I can’t wait for the display to begin.

‘Winter’s Joy’ is loaded with buds just waiting to produce its showy flowers, and look at that immaculate foliage.

I really like leatherleaf viburnums.  They are evergreen, deer resistant, grow in full shade, have lovely flowers and foliage, and are big enough to screen unsightly views.  The plants I have in my garden are the straight species Viburnum rhytidophyllum and that’s what I intended to offer to my customers.  However, when I saw ‘Dart’s Duke’ lantanaphyllum viburnum (what a name!), V. x rhytidophyllum ‘Dart’s Duke’, and did some research, I realized it is a superior plant for foliage, flowers, berries, and vigor.   A comparison of the nursery stock confirmed this.

‘Dart’s Duke’ showing its majestic leaves and reblooming to produce some of its very large flowers for fall.

‘Dart’s Duke’ grows to 8’ tall by 8’ wide in full sun to full shade.  It has very large, 6 to 10”, showy white flowers in May and can rebloom in the fall.  The flowers are followed by very nice red fruit.  The beautiful, clean dark green, leathery evergreen foliage is deer resistant and winter tough.  It is a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal Plant for 2012, one of only four plants honored.

‘Early Amethyst’ beautyberry is dispalying its amazing purple berries right now at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

‘Early Amethyst’ beautyberry, Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst’,  has attractive pink flowers in spring.  But the real show is in the fall when huge amounts of unbelievably colored purple berries run down the center of the beautifully layered branches.  When the leaves drop, the persistent berries are even more showy though they are attractive to birds.  Beautyberry reaches 4’ tall by 4′ wide in sun to part shade and is deer resistant.  I have grown this plant successfully in part shade for years.  If desired, it can be cut back in spring, but I usually leave mine alone.  Beautyberry is a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal Plant and Missouri Botanical Garden Plant of Merit.

Paper Bush, Edgeworthia chrysantha

Paper bush, Edgeworthia chrysantha, is a rare and unusual shrub that has just been discovered by collectors within the last few years.  However, it has so many great ornamental features that it is sure to become very popular.  Its very fragrant clusters of tubular bright yellow flowers bloom from January to March.  The buds, which form in the fall, are as ornamental as the flowers.  They remind me of the tassels on the corners of Victorian pillows.  Paper bush has an elegant and symmetrical upright, branching habit, growing to 6’ tall in part to full shade with protection from winter winds.  It is an exquisite and rare shrub that is ornamental 365 days of the year in my garden.

The buds of paper bush are ornamental all winter.

The unusual fragrant flowers of paper bush

The flowers of ‘Preziosa’ sawtooth hydrangea start out a lovely pink and mature to a bright maroon.

‘Preziosa’ sawtooth hydrangea, Hydrangea serrata ‘Preziosa’, produces numerous lovely pink, small, mophead-like flowers in June and July, which darken with age to a gorgeous maroon (see link below for photo).  The flowers are reliably pink and don’t turn blue.  The beautiful burgundy fall color of the leaves and stems only adds to the show.  ‘Preziosa’ reaches 4’ tall and wide in part to full shade.  The Hydrangea serrata species is one that thrives in full shade.  Unlike many hydrangeas, ‘Preziosa’ is very tolerant of the cold temperatures in our zone 6.  For a raving review of ‘Preziosa’ and more cultural information (note that the winter protection recommended is for zone 5), click here.

The leaves of ‘Preziosa’ sawtooth hydrangea have already started to turn burgundy.

This photo shows the berries on my ‘Red Sprite’ winterberry holly right now—they get much larger as the season progresses, but the show is already breathtaking.

One of my all time favorite native plants is winterberry holly, Ilex verticillata.  It grows wild all over the island in Maine where my family vacations and is always covered with berries in the fall.  Here in Pennsylvania, my preferred winterberry holly cultivar is Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’.  It produces copious amounts of very large red berries on relatively compact plants that never need pruning.  The birds love the berries too, but they leave enough behind for it to remain extremely showy late into the winter.  ‘Red Sprite’ reaches 5’ tall in sun to part shade and is wet site and salt tolerant, and deer resistant.  All hollies require a male pollinator, in this case ‘Jim Dandy’, for good fruit set.  Winterberry is native to the entire eastern half of North America, including Pennsylvania.

The flowers and foliage of native ‘Cool Splash’ southern bush honeysuckle, Diervilla sessifolia ‘Cool Splash’

‘Cool Splash’ southern bush honeysuckle is a native shrub whose bold green and white variegation really stands out in the shade.  Its honeysuckle-shaped yellow flowers appear in July and August with rebloom in the fall.  ‘Cool Splash’ grows to 4’ tall and wide in sun to part shade.  It is tough, cold hardy, and deer resistant, and integrates well into perennial borders.  This species is native to the southeastern U.S., but a closely related species, D. lonicera, is native to Pennsylvania.  It is one of four plants honored with a gold medal by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 2011.  Nan Ondra at the blog Hayfield has written an excellent profile of this native shrub (with many photos), click here .

In late spring and early summer, ‘John Clayton’ trumpet honeysuckle is covered with these delightful tubular yellow flowers attractive to hummingbirds.

I love vines, and one of my first acquisitions was the native ‘John Clayton’ trumpet honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens ‘John Clayton’.  It is my most vigorous trumpet honeysuckle vine, completely covering the lattice under my deck.  Its bright yellow tubular flowers are beloved by  hummingbirds in late spring and early summer and  rebloom through fall, forming attractive red berries.  ‘John Clayton’s’ semi-evergreen, bright green leaves remain attractive through the season.  It reaches 10’ in sun to part shade.  It is deer resistant and very low maintenance.  Trumpet honeysuckle is native to the eastern U.S., including Pennsylvania.

I grow most of these plants in my gardens so I know you can’t go wrong by adding them to yours!  If you are a customer, see Nursery Happenings below for details on how to order these wonderful shade plants.  If not, now you have some plants to ask for at your local independent nursery.

For a great video demonstration of how to plant a shrub put together by my cousin, Jay MacMullan, at the blog Landscape Design and Gardening Resource Guide, click 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.), just click here.

Nursery Happenings: Orders for woody shade plants will be accepted until  noon on Thursday, September 29.  Click here for the catalogue.  Our final fall open house sale will be on Saturday, October 8, from 10 am to 3 pm.  If you can’t make it because of Yom Kippur or other reasons, remember you can make an appointment to shop 24/7 by sending me an email at

Fall-blooming Camellias Part 2

Posted in Fall Color, Shade Shrubs with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2010 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Red-flowered Camellia japonica (introduction in process)

In my previous article, Fall-blooming Camellias Part 1, I showed you my camellias and provided some background on the development of these remarkable plants.   Here I want to convey the astonishing variety of cultivars available for your fall  garden.

On December 2 (before the freeze), I was privileged to visit the camellia collection of Swarthmore, PA, horticulturalist Charles Cresson who grows over 60 varieties.  Charles not only showed me around his gardens, but helped me stage the photographs—thanks Charles.  Here are some of the incredible specimens I saw.


fall-blooming camellia 'Snow Flurry'Camellia x ‘Snow Flurry’ (Ackerman Hybrid)


fall-blooming camellia 'Winter's Dream'Camellia x ‘Winter’s Dream’ (Ackerman Hybrid)

fall-blooming camellia 'Autumn Spirit'Camellia x ‘Autumn Spirit’ (Camellia Forest Introduction)


fall-blooming camellia 'Winter's Snowman'Camellia x ‘Winter’s Snowman’ (Ackerman Hybrid)

fall-blooming camellia 'Winter's Charm'Camellia x ‘Winter’s Charm’ (Ackerman Hybrid)


fall-blooming camellia 'Scented Snow'Camellia x ‘Scented Snow’ (Camellia Forest Introduction)


fall-blooming camellia 'Winter's Beauty'Camellia x ‘Winter’s Beauty’ (Ackerman Hybrid)


fall-blooming camellia 'Cranberry Ice'Cranberry-flowered Camellia (not introduced)

fall-blooming camellia Ackerman seedlingWhite-flowered Camellia (not introduced)

The two photos above are of  cold hardy camellias that have never been offered  for sale.


fall-blooming camellia "Wax Lips"

fall-blooming camellia "Wax Lips"

Red-flowered Camellia japonica (introduction in process)

Of all the camellias I saw during my visit, and there were many more than appear here, you can probably tell that the red-flowered camellia in the photographs above and at the top was my favorite.  From its plentiful plump buds to its robust red flowers with bright yellow stamens to its dazzling dark evergreen leaves to its lush and  luxurious habit, it is outstanding.  It is a straight C. japonica  species collected by the Morris Arboretum in 1984 on an island in Korea.   The island is the most northern range of this species. Although technically a spring bloomer, it also flowers in fall.  Charles hopes to introduce it for sale soon.

For more information on Ackerman  hybrid camellias, read William Ackerman’s article “Camellias for Cold Climates”.  For a wonderful selection of camellias from a nursery that hybridizes them, visit the Camellia Forest Nursery website.  Camellia Forest is located in Chapel Hill, NC.


Note: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.

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