Wait, Wait! Perhaps the garden isn’t finished for the season. Until a few days ago November temperatures were milder than normal, but just barely so. The past week has been much warmer, and the Autumn Amethyst Encore azaleas (below) that bloomed only sporadically through September and October are beginning to flower again.
Encore azaleas routinely flower into December in the warmer Gulf Coast states, but typical November temperatures in northern Virginia send the azaleas into a dormant state that breaks only with the first sustained warmth of March. In my garden some Encore varieties begin blooming in late August and continue into the middle of October, while others don’t begin to flower until October. When cold temperatures settle in there are plump flower buds that haven’t opened, and if there’s an oddball stretch of warm days there’s a possibility that there will be a few stray blooms.
Another sign of the unusually warm November temperatures was seen while wandering through the garden on Saturday. A lone bee was merrily buzzing about on the bright yellow blooms of ‘Winter Sun’ mahonia (above). Most of the small flowers have not opened yet, but this bee didn’t mind a bit.