Wait! It’s not over


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.

The fat buds that remain are likely to be damaged by winter’s cold, but new flower buds will be set early in the spring so that the azaleas will bloom on schedule late in April.

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.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tiff says:

    I think I need some mahonia. A little bloom this late in the season seems like a good idea.

    1. Dave says:

      Winter Sun is an underutilized plant. It is moe compact growing than other mahonias, and the early winter blooms are splendid. The grape-like fruit that follows flowering is a favorite of birds. The extremely spiny foliage is deer resistant, though I’ve had reports that deer have eaten the flowers.

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