Archive for Magnolia x ‘Yellow Bird’

November GBBD: Prime Time

Posted in Camellias, Fall Color, Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, Shade Perennials, Shade Shrubs with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2011 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.

I think Disanthus cercidifolius (no common name) has the best fall color of any plant in my garden.  It is also in full bloom right now (photo below).

It is the middle of the month and time to participate in Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day hosted by May Dreams Gardens where gardeners from all over the world publish photos of what’s blooming in their gardens.  I participate because it is fun and educational for me to identify what plants make my gardens shine at different times of the year.  I also hope that my customers will get some ideas for plants to add to their own gardens to extend their season well into fall.  I am also joining my friend Donna’s Word for Wednesday theme of texture and pattern at her blog Garden Walk Garden Talk.

My garden is located in Bryn Mawr (outside Philadelphia), Pennsylvania, U.S., in zone 6B.

The re-blooming tall bearded iris ‘Clarence’ is a star performer in my fall garden.  It got knocked over by our unseasonable snow storm so it doesn’t look like this now, but it continues to bloom.

In colder months there is a tendency to include GBBD photos of anything with a flower, and I may do that in January.  But fall is still prime time in my gardens (no hard frost yet) so I am showing here only plants that are at their peak between October 15 and November 15 (I do not take all my photos on November 15).  This means that they bloom now (or are still blooming), have ornamental fruit, or feature exceptional fall color during this period.  For more ornamental ideas for fall, see A Few Fall Favorites for Flowers and A Few Fall Favorites for Foliage and Fruit.

Let’s start with perennials:

Fall-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. hederifolium, continues to flower through November.

Yes, the snowdrop season has started with Galanthus reginae-olgae, which has been blooming since mid-October.  Fall-blooming ‘Potter’s Prelude’ has just produced its first flowers as has the giant snowdrop, G. elwesii, but they will be featured next month .

When I was touring Chanticleer this spring one of the gardeners gave me a clump of this very late-blooming monkshood, Aconitum sp.  I am not sure what species it is, but I am loving it’s dark violet-blue flowers.

‘Immortality’ is another re-blooming tall bearded iris that puts on a fall show.  I appreciate these flowers much more now when most other showy blooms are gone.

‘Zebrina’ hollyhock mallow, Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’, shows up in the most unlikely places in my garden, here my terrace stairs, and produces generous quantities of blooms through fall.

Gorgeous ‘Moudry’ black fountain grass, Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Moudry’, is one of the most asked about perennials in my fall garden and is well behaved here, but it can spread aggressively in some sites.

Hellebore season has started too with this little gem that was sold to me as Helleborus dumetorum (no common name), probably mislabeled.  Christmas rose ‘Josef Lemper’ has been blooming for quite a while but has no fresh flowers now.  I will include it next month.

Here are some trees and shrubs that I would grow for their ornamental contribution to the fall garden from flowers or berries:

The award winning hydrangea ‘Limelight’, H. paniculata ‘Limelight’, continues to produce fresh flowers late into fall.

Pond cypress, Taxodium ascendens, is ornamental almost all the time, but I would grow it even if all it did was produce these gorgeous cones.

Native green hawthorn ‘Winter King’, Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’, has produced a bumper crop of berries this year, which the robins are just starting to enjoy.

The flowers on my evergreen ‘Sasaba’ holly osmanthus, O. heterophyllus ‘Sasaba’, are small but they make up for their size with their heavenly fragrance which perfumes the whole garden.

The berries of evergreen Japanese skimmia, S. japonica, persist well into spring.

Disanthus cercidifolius is in full bloom right now.

The scarlet flowers are interesting and beautiful, but you have to get quite close to see them.

All my fall-blooming camellias are covered with flowers.  The first four pictured below are Ackerman hybrids, which are hardy in zone 6 see Fall-Blooming Camellias Part 1, and the final plant is one of their parents:

Camellia x ‘Elaine Lee’

Camellia x ‘Winter’s Joy’

Camellia x ‘Winter’s Snowman’

Camellia x ‘Winter’s Darling’

Fall-blooming Camellia oleifera was introduced to the U.S. from China in 1948.  In 1980, Dr. Ackerman at the U.S. National Arboretum noticed that it alone survived the U.S. mid-Atlantic’s cold winters and began crossing it with non-hardy fall-blooming species to produce what are now known as the Ackerman hybrids.  My camellia in the photo above is a seedling from the original C. oleifera ‘Lu Shan Snow’ at the National Arboretum.

There are dozens of plants that are vying to be included on GBBD because of their beautiful fall color.  However, I have decided to showcase only the seven that I think are exceptional, including disanthus pictured above and at the very beginning of the post:

Our Pennsylvania native vine Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, is underused in gardens especially when you consider its fall look.

Many magnolias, including star magnolia, turn a lovely yellow in the fall, but native hybrid Magnolia x ‘Yellow Bird’ (named for its yellow flowers) is the most beautiful.

Redvein enkianthus, E. campanulatus

Pennsylvania native oakleaf hydrangea, H. quercifolia, is ornamental 365 days a year, but it definitely reaches one of its peaks in the fall.

Another woody with 365 days of interest, coral bark maple, Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’, has stunning and long-lasting fall color.  For more information on this lovely tree, read Coral Bark Maple.

Pennsylvania native sugar maple, Acer saccharum, has gorgeous orange fall color.  Pictured above is a sugar maple tree in my garden that turns red instead of orange.  Sadly, when the iconic Princeton Nursery closed its doors, they had been evaluating it for seven years for possible introduction.

Enjoy your fall,  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.

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