Normally, The Automatic Garden has quite a few flowering plants during the winter, but not this cold winter. Thank goodness for the sturdy Camellias that grow in the garden and have provided much needed color.
A couple of days of warm weather prompted a few Azaleas to pop open early and add a little more color to this dreary winter.
As snows blow across the northern parts of the country, Camellias begin blooming here October through March, catching the eye like beautiful jewels.
This gorgeous huge flower is from the Royal Velvet Camellia. It has had a rough start, as during its second year in the natural part of the yard, deer decided to taste it. This year the Royal Velvet was able to put out quite a few 5 inch flowers.
Shi-Shi Gashira is a tough little gal. These Camellias are planted in full sun and have never disappointed with their abundance of blooms. The Camellia has been covered in snow, taken heavy rains, drought and recently frozen. The photo is of a bloom that was in bud during our recent heavy freeze.
Professor Sargent is new to the garden and I am very pleased with it. The Camellia is covered with blooms up to 3 inches across and the shrub can reach a height of 8 feet. Camellias are generally very slow growers, so it may be years before it gets that large.
One of the oldest Camellias in the garden is White By the Gate. It has been a reliable bloomer over the past 15 years. This photo was taken against a cloudy sky. The shrub has been making blooms in triplet. Notice the half open bloom and a bud behind the flower.
As a test, I sent this photo to some friends to identify it. They all guessed it was a rose. But no, it is Southern Secret Camellia.
Southern Secret Camellia is new to the garden this year. I purchased two of them to replace roses that died, probably due to the increasing shade from the native trees on the property. Camellias grow well in shade and also enjoy the acidic soil in this area. Pine needles are their friend. So many needles drop from the trees, that I often have pick them off of the flowers before I photograph them.
These Camellias with their 5 inch flowers should be stunning as they grow up to 10 feet tall. They are planted along the back fence and can be seen from my kitchen window. These beautiful Camellia jewels brighten the winter months.
Pink is not usually a color associated with November and I was surprised to see how many pinks were in bloom this month. The garden favorite, Confederate Rose, begins the show. She only blooms in the fall.
Wendy’s Wish salvia will bloom in the spring, but it does bloom nicely in the fall and into the winter if the weather stays mild.
Pam’s Pink Turks Cap has continued blooming from late summer.
Camellias begin their bloom time in the fall. This one starts by Halloween.
Ancore Azaleas bloom on and off all year-round.
The Japanese Anemone is beginning to wind down after a couple of months of blooming.
The cutest little pom-poms develop on the Mexican Knot Weed.
This pink Wishbone had reseeded from last year’s plant.
Believe it or not, no pink Pentas were ever planted in the garden. There are white and red Pentas. Maybe they got together.
The Pink Salvia has been with me for a long time. Many years ago, a neighbor let me dig it up from her garden. I have moved since then and so has she.
Even though this is named Pink Flamingo Feather Celosia, it looks a tad purplish.
This past winter has been one of the coldest we have had on the Gulf Coast in awhile. As it turns out, many plants enjoyed the cold and actually thrived and improved. Of course, some did not make it through the freezes.
This White by the Gate camellia put on a spectacular show this spring. It was just filled with blooms. A couple of weeks later it bloomed again. Not quite as full as the first cycle, but a nice surprise. As spring continued with cool temperatures and low humidity, the camellia sporadically opened a few flowers each week. It seems that the cold temperatures and lack of rain kept away the fungus that makes the buds drop, giving a beautiful full bloom cycle for the camellia.
This Black and Blue Salvia was on its last leg and did not even bloom last year. Apparently, it liked being frozen to the ground. It came back stronger than ever and is producing flowers. Notice how black the buds look. They will turn blue when they open.
Another benefit of cold weather, is the lack of spider mites. This Oxalis is usually lacking its bright purple colors due to the mites sucking on it. (There is still a little pine pollen on it.)
The Clematis had spectacular blooms. Clematis is hard to grow in this climate and the cold temperatures really encouraged blooms.
The Hinckley’s Columbine has barely bloomed for the last two years, but this spring the flowers were so prolific the stems could not hold it them up.
Camellias are the gems of the garden in the fall and winter along the Gulf Coast. The first two shown are Sasanqua type that start to bloom at the end of October. The ShiShi Gashira are the next two photos and begin opening in December. Around January the Japonica varieties continue the show with multi-petaled flowers. In the Automatic Garden the winter ends with the pristine White by the Gate and Red Velvet Camellias.
Dutchman’s Pipe is a host for butterfly caterpillars.
Blue Salvia is a favorite of bees and hummingbirds.
White Rain Lilies are delightful in this time of year.
Wild Trailing Bean (Strophostyles helvula) attracts bees.
Clerodendrum a beautiful blue fall bloomer.
Torenia reseeded from the spring and provided fall blooms that brightened up the garden.
Camellias are a wonderful fall and winter flowers that hummingbirds feed on in the winter.
Philippine Violet is a perennial that also reseeds.
One advantage of living on the Gulf Coast is that the garden doesn’t stop at the changing of the seasons. Planning is essential to the Automatic Garden. Choose perennials or reseeding annuals that begin their blooming times when the summer plants are coming to the end of their season.