Archive for fall-blooming cyclamen

November GBBD: What’s Peaking Now

Posted in evergreen, Fall, Fall Color, hellebores, snowdrops with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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.

This Japanese maple, Acer palmatum, of unknown origin broke off in the ice and snow in January 2011.  For a photo of it then, click here.  It has recovered beautifully with an even more interesting habit.

I have said before that no matter how much I try to enjoy it, November is not my favorite month.  As I wander around, all I see are plants dying back, work to be done, and time running out.  Last year wasn’t too bad because we had a long warm fall with beautiful weather and plenty going on through the middle of November.  I even called my Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post “Prime Time” (click here to see the show).  This year most gardeners in the mid-Atlantic US agree that fall colors on many plants have been muted and gardens have gone by early.  Even September and October contained few of the clear, crisp, and sunny days we look forward to, and then along came Sandy.

A seedling Japanese maple along my front walk.

Despite the bad fall, there are plants in my garden right now that make a stroll outside worthwhile.  What is it about them that so attracts me?  It is that these plants are reaching their ornamental height right now.  They are not just re-blooming or showing a few flowers on a plant that really peaked earlier like asters or phlox, and they are not producing lovely fall color on a woody that I grow just as much for its flowers like hydrangea or viburnum.  November is the month when they reach the top.

The Japanese maples that seeded around this London plane tree produce a variety of fall colors from yellow to orange to red.

In this post I re-introduce you to some of the plants that show their best side in November and December.  I have written about many of them before, and I will provide links to those posts.  However, I wanted to gather these plants together here to provide a complete reference of fall stars to use during your spring shopping  trips.

‘Shishigashira’ is a gorgeous Japanese maple that just starts to turn in mid-November.  It will eventually become a solid orangey red.

When all the other trees have shown their colors and lost their leaves, Japanese maples are just starting to turn.  Every time I go outside I grab my camera to take one more shot of their eye-catching color.  I think it is their prime ornamental characteristic, especially because of its timing, even though I also appreciate their fine branching structure, delicate leaves, and variety of habits.

Fall-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. hederifolium.

The white and pink flowers of hardy cyclamen.

Fall-blooming hardy cyclamen is dormant in the summer and re-emerges in the fall.  To get all the details, click here to read my recent post on this unusual but easy to grow plant.  For the purposes of this post, what makes it so desirable is that November is its peak when its leaves are fully emerged and provide a stunning backdrop for the flowers.

The basic Italian arum, A. italicum, sometimes called ‘Pictum’.

‘Gold Dust’ Italian arum has much more distinct markings with gold veins.

The leaves of ‘Tiny Tot’ Italian arum are about one-third the size (or less) of the species and very finely marked.

Italian arum’s life cycle is very similar to hardy cyclamen: it goes dormant in the summer and comes up fresh and beautiful to peak in the fall and through the winter.  It makes a great groundcover, and you can read more about it by clicking here.

Giant snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii.

A giant snowdrop with unusually long outer segments (petals).

‘Potter’s Prelude’ giant snowdrop, G. elwesii var. monostichus, is just starting to open in mid-November.

I couldn’t write a post this time of year without mentioning fall-blooming snowdrops.  Although we think of snowdrops as blooming in March, there are several species that bloom in the fall, including G. reginae-olgae, which blooms in October and is done now.  Also the giant snowdrop, whose flowers are quite variable, blooms for a long period from November to February so I have included some photos above.  But the king of fall is ‘Potter’s Prelude’, a very robust and vigorous snowdrop that blooms reliably in November.  For more information, click here to read my post on fall-blooming snowdrops.

Christmas rose ‘Josef Lemper’, Helleborus niger

This photo was taken today—as you can see ‘Josef’ Lemper’s’ October flowers have gone by, but a whole new crop of buds are preparing for November.


The Christmas rose ‘Jacob’ begins a month later that ‘Josef Lemper’.  Its buds are just beginning to reach up beyond the leaves.

‘Josef Lemper’ and ‘Jacob’ Christmas roses are also stars in my November garden, producing pure white 3 to 4″ wide flowers set off by smooth evergreen leaves.  Fall is their season, and they produce copious amounts of flowers to cheer up dreary November days.  For more information on fall-blooming hellebores, click here.

Fall-blooming camellia ‘Winter’s Joy’ produces its first two flowers but look at all the buds to come.

The last photo is a teaser because of course fall-blooming camellias play a huge part in my November garden.  As with the other plants profiled, they are not just hanging on into November but instead come into their own then.  Look for an upcoming post featuring my camellias and my recent visit to the garden of a customer who also loves camellias.

All these plants (except the single flower of ‘Josef Lemper’ Christmas rose) are pictured blooming in my garden right now so I am linking to Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day (“GBBD”) hosted by May Dreams Gardens where gardeners from all over the world publish photos of what’s blooming in their gardens.



Nursery Happenings:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is done for the fall.  Thanks for a great year.  See you in spring 2013.

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Keeping the Shade Garden Going in Late Fall

Posted in Fall, Fall Color, landscape design with tags , , , , , , , on December 1, 2010 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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.

main terrace at Carolyn's Shade Gardens in late fall

Articles on landscape design advocate creating beds that flower through out the gardening season.  This is a lofty goal, and one that is not always worth achieving.  Beds that are designed to accomplish it often look spotty and unfocused because there is no theory behind the design besides bloom time, and the bed never truly peaks.  My woodland gardens, which contain mostly spring ephemerals and are done by June, provide immense satisfaction to me and are thoroughly enjoyed by my customers, even though their ornamental season is limited.  Most of my other gardens also have their season of splendor and then step aside to let other areas shine.

On the other hand, it is important to me that I have at least one prominent garden that is ornamentally interesting all year.  And I realize that most gardeners don’t have the space that I have to indulge in the luxury of letting a garden go by in June.  So, the question is, how do you keep a garden going in late fall before the winter-blooming plants get started?  What plants can you use to create the sense of a garden still growing: a feeling of plant combinations not individual plants?

I want to tell you about the area where I have done this most successfully: the shady end of the terrace outside my front door.  Through silver, purple, pink, and dark green groundcovers, leaves, and flowers, this terrace still has the feeling of a garden in its prime right now in early December.

'Shell Pink' lamium at Carolyn's Shade Gardens‘Shell Pink’ Lamium in early December

I think the most important element of a late season border is a flowering evergreen groundcover.  In this bed, I use ‘Shell Pink’ lamium (photo above) because it blooms from April to December (at some times more prolifically than others) and remains evergreen all year.  I have also planted the fall-blooming hardy cyclamen, Cyclamen hederifolium (photo below).  Its pink flowers appear from September into November.  Although dormant for a short time in summer, once its leaves come back in late August, it maintains a fresh pristine appearance through the following June.  It spreads to form a very attractive groundcover and is not picky about the site like the spring-blooming cyclamen.

fall-blooming cyclamen at Carolyn's Shade GardensFall-blooming Hardy Cyclamen

'Diana Clare' pulmonaria at Carolyn's Shade Gardens‘Diana Clare’ Pulmonaria

Foliage is important this time of year.  I chose pulmonarias to fill a big space because their leaves remain ornamental almost until new leaves appear in February.  The solid silver foliage of  ‘Diana Clare’ (photo above) is one of my favorites in my pulmonaria collection.  Equally as important are the dark evergreen leaves of several hellebores: Christmas roses, hybrid hellebores, the H. x ericsmithii cultivars ‘Silvermoon’ and ‘Ivory Prince’ with their silver marbling, and the golden-veined leaves of H. x nigercors ‘Green Corsican’.  Finally, I treasure the almost year round interest of the new cultivars of our native coralbell, Heuchera villosa.  Here I used ‘Frosted Violet’ (photo below), which is deep burgundy-purple with lighter highlights.

'Frosted Violet' native coralbells at Carolyn's Shade GardensNative Coralbell ‘Frosted Violet’

Christmas Rose 'Jacob' at Carolyn's Shade GardensFall-blooming Christmas rose ‘Jacob’

For the final element of flowers, in addition to the pink blooms of the lamium, I added the fall-blooming Christmas roses, Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’ (photo above) and ‘Josef Lemper’.  ‘Jacob’, the shorter and more compact of the two, is sending up buds now.  ‘Josef’ will begin flowering in a few weeks.  Both cultivars continue to produce new blossoms into May.  I have also added lots of the fall-blooming snowdrop ‘Potter’s Prelude’ (photo below).  This exceedingly robust snowdrop will produce its lovely white flowers for the next month.

fall-blooming snowdrop 'Potter's Prelude' at Carolyn's Shade GardensFall-blooming Snowdrop ‘Potter’s Prelude’

Main terrace at Carolyn's Shade GardensTerrace in late November

So that’s it: groundcover, foliage, and flowers through mid-January when the winter-blooming perennials and bulbs take over.  Not the abundance of late spring, but certainly ornamental.


Notes:  All photos in this post were taken at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens in late November. Flowering evergreen shrubs are an important part of any late fall garden.  For all of you who have been to Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, you may wonder why I didn’t mention the semi-circle of large fragrant daphnes (Daphne odora) that lined this bed.  Unfortunately, they were killed last winter by falling white pine branches.  I hope to replace them.

fragrant daphne odora at Carolyn's Shade GardensFragrant Daphne, gone but not forgotten!

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